Video: Staring Down Climate Change ~ Flood Resilience in a Community on Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia

Our lives and our Green global trek have taken a sharp right turn into the realm of climate adaptation.

For this Asian chapter of our lives, we aim to learn from field observations which solutions already exist for populations that live in the worlds most frequently flooded region.

Our visit to the Tonle Sap Lake, outside of Siem Reap, offers a glimpse of our collective future. With sea level rise climbing over one metre this century, a great many cities around the world will be underwater (New York, Miami, Amsterdam anywhere near or on a large body of water) by the end of the century.  After our first trip, we arrange with officials to return the next day with a translator for a more in depth  visit with community members of the floating village to understand more about the “behind the scenes inner-working of the community” of this floating community.

The communities that live on Lake Tonle Sap are already adapted to this climate reality and live in stilt housing, floating houses and house boats of all sizes.


The progression  from urban city to “water world” appears in a sequence of housing solutions that are fascinating. In the city of Siem Reap, houses are multifloor concrete buildings. As we reach the country side,  houses are mostly made of wood and or thatch walls. Drive further and the houses are built on increasingly high stilts.

By the time we transition from tuk tuk to boat for transport to the area and a smaller boat to visit the families, we enter an entirely new universe. A city of homes built on stilts in clusters, just like streets and city blocks, but standing  about twenty feet above (todays) water level. Finally, Houses shed their stilts entirely in favor of metal drums and bamboo poles for floatation systems. Now we’re talking!

Both of us mezmerized by this very different world, different planet. It is both history and science fiction. Families go to school, farm, run stores, have pets, fish, play, work on the water 24/7. It is for them as natural as living on land is for the rest of us, and they have been doing it for generations. Every resident we spoke to said they and their parents and as long as anyone remembered, were born there.

We were welcomed warmly and hospitably by multiple families. The experience provided an incredible opportunity to bridge two cultures least of which was our language difference, but rather bridging the land life culture with the water life culture.


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