The Beauty of Working Deep in Rural Cambodia

June 01, 2015
Cambodian Village
Village in Samlout, Battambang province of Cambodia

By Bolun Li, MSc-GH '16

Situated deep in the remote village of Samlout district, Battambang province in Cambodia, Maddox Jolie Pitt Foundation (MJP) is one of the world’s most terrific places you should visit. The richness of its story and the kindness of humble people (both Cambodian and international, also our partner SNV Cambodia) working there made the 12-hour-long tiring journey paid off.

Started in 2003 by Angelina Jolie and Stephan Bognar in the most violent region during the Khmer Rouge time (People in Samlout signed the peace agreement in 1999), MJP is committed to post-conflict construction and strives to bring social cohesion through health provision, educational projects, microfinance groups and environmental reservation. It is so renowned in the region, and I have an actual sense that they are so humble in respecting the people and creating substantial social impacts. We will be working closely with them to conduct our environmental health survey there in the following weeks.

In Cambodia, cooking with traditional cook stoves and solid fuels has severe health effects on households as smoke from cooking results in high level of household air pollution. World Health Organization estimates that 89% of the Cambodian population is exposed to household air pollution. The Global Burden of Disease 2010 estimated that cooking with traditional stove and solid fuels is the second risk factor for disease and premature death in Cambodia.

For my project, "Household Air Pollution and Health impacts of cooking stoves and fuels in rural Cambodia," public policy and global health professor Marc Jeuland and I are interested in learning how cooking practices can have health and environmental outcomes in Samlout district, Battambang province of Cambodia. In the following 7-8 weeks, our survey teams (8 people in total, 1 field supervisor, 6 surveyors and myself) will be interviewing 400 households and collecting information related to cooking practices, health status, environmental indicators and socio-economic status. I am confident that our survey will help to throw light on the strategy to improve health and environmental status in rural Cambodia. I look forward to the upcoming challenges and appreciate the help from you all.