Cambodia joined RWEDP as a member country in 1996. Its membership was welcomed as wood is by far the largest energy source in the country and its per capita consumption of wood energy is amongst the highest in Asia. The important roles of wood energy in terms of energy supply, the economy and rural income generation have become well recognised by the government.
Since 1996 the country has organised four national workshops on wood energy development with support and advice from RWEDP. These activities have focused on improved stoves, wood energy planning, gender aspects of wood energy, and natural resource management in the Tonle Sap area. Case studies on data collection and area-based planning are also currently being prepared and more national activities are in the planning stages. Furthermore, delegates from Cambodia have actively participated in regional RWEDP consultations and training courses.
The unique features of woodfuels mean that any policies and interventions aimed at developing wood energy must, in order to be effective, be suited to local conditions and be based on a thorough understanding of local woodfuel flows (RWEDP's Report No.30 on Wood Fuel Flows (1996) gives an overview of four highly relevant studies which readers may find illuminating). The current study on woodfuel flows in Phnom Penh by a team of Cambodian researchers, with support from three international agencies, focuses on an urban market. The results add to our understanding of the situation in Phnom Penh and these and the methodologies used may also be relevant for other countries.
Many thanks are due to the study team for their excellent work under difficult circumstances, and to the project advisor for her advice and support.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Cambodian ministries and the various counterpart agencies in Cambodia for their enthusiastic cooperation and the FAO representative in Cambodia who provided valuable assistance and advice.
Dr. W.S. Hulscher,
Chief Technical Adviser