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Belonging to the first educated generation after the Khmer Rouge period, the five founders of the Cambodian Rural Development Team (CRDT) were disadvantaged rural children. Access to education was an uphill struggle. Hard work saw our founders meeting at university, and being in the minority coming from underprivileged backgrounds, they banded together as a team. They developed a shared vision for the future of Cambodia – ‘one free from poverty and environmental degradation’ as they found that in Cambodia few rural people survive entirely on what they produce from their own land. They supplement their livelihoods by hunting, fishing or gathering forest products. But overfishing and deforestation are threatening both this way of living and ecosystems. The Mekong River Dolphin and many other critically endangered species are on the verge of extinction due to destructive natural resource usage. Our founding members experienced poverty firsthand in their youth, and saw how closely linked poverty is to natural resources. If livelihoods are tied to environmental issues, a population exploding after years of atrocities means more people sharing Cambodia’s natural bounty. This free-for-all of natural resource exploitation cannot last. Founded in 2001 as a voluntary university-student initiative, called at that time the Cambodian Volunteer Rural Development Team (CVRDT), the strong motivation, deep technical expertise and hard work of the team resulted in the rapid growth of the organization. Through securing partnerships with large international organizations, CRDT changed from implementing one-off projects, to sustained integrated programs covering a variety of livelihood, natural resource management, and community development components. These aim to raise living standards and contribute to environmental conservation.

CRDT Evolution

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