Climate Lessons From the Floating Villages of Cambodia

Did you know our very own Steven Bingler is also co-founder and chairperson of Common Edge Collaborative, an online publication with the mission to advocate and report on equitable engagement, planning and design in the built environment? Check out the excerpts below from his article, Climate Lessons From the Floating Villages of Cambodia. There are a lot of parallels drawn between the rapidly changing conditions along the Gulf Coast due to climate change.

Lake Tonle Sap is a part of Cambodia’s inland water system that’s connected to the flooded forests that purify water and buffer communities from storms—an important benefit as climate change makes extreme weather more frequent. Every year from June to November, the Mekong Delta backs up into Lake Tonle Sap, creating water-depth fluctuations of up to 10 meters. The result is that land-based buildings are inundated during the rainy season, then refurbished and reoccupied again after the water recedes. 

The 2,000 residents who live in the village of Mechrey have solved the problem in a different way—by creating a floating village that can migrate from place to place. Every person, young and old, plays a part in the daily and seasonal demands of this nomadic community life.

As planners, we often focus on the more concrete physical and economic domains of climate adaptation, but there’s much to learn from the softer and more elusive side of community-centered planning, where the cultural, social, educational, and organizational characteristics of community life create a sort of intrinsic resilience. 

Read Steven’s full article here, as he explores components such as housing, education, transportation, economic development, the port, and culture of the Mechrey community.

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