Print this page

Latest News

Update 1 October 2018

Excellent worldwide report by UN Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous People, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz. Cambodia is not one of the countries studied but her conclusions do still apply there.

19 September 2018

Good little video from the Phnom Penh Post on the Indigenous People's Market we helped to etsbalish in Sen Monorom.

9 August 2018

World Indigenous People's Day came and went in Cambodia barely mentioned except by a few hardy activists.  This is all the more significant given that it is indigenous people who are bearing the brunt of the Laos Dam disaster. (Next item below). My twitter followers helped, re-tweeting my two messages. My first one was the first mention of the day around #Cambodia and my second passed on the excellent graphic.

Also John Lowrie's assessment of the 2018 National Assembly elections can be accessed here. The same report is produced in landscape format too.

July 2018

Excellent article by Julia Wallace on how the Laos Dam disaster has impacted on Ethnic Minorities in Cambodia. This is her picture of a standed couple with their dog going to vote in the Cambodia 2018 election. My tweet on the subject here. The new Indigenous People's own political party (scroll down to December 2015 below) did not fare well in the election - I will post more when the official election results come out.

May 2018

Political developments in Cambodia since 2014 have deteriorated with in effect a return to one party rule.  The ruling party has not adopted a respectful or progressive policy towards indigenous people, as described in this article. It means that indigenous people must continue to self-organize to advocate for their rights. The current current government is also less open to influence from the outside world but - hopefully - still not immune to it.

The role of both local and international NGOs has come under intense scrutiny too for many reasons, sometimes due to scandals of serious misconduct, fraud, etc. Our organisations have always been at the forefront of highest ethical standards as well as maximum foreignaid effectiveness. In this sense Cambodia as one of the world's places with the greatest and most expensive external intervention should serve as a model for "Smarter Aid". We have relayed our experiences to donor countries like the United Kingdom, with an argument for better inspection and regulation regimes.  Therefore it is good to receive a response to show our efforts are not entirely in vain, even if we have been unable to correct perceived injustices to poor Cambodians for past lax practices. Please see this response from the UK's National Audit Office. This has been added to this blog and article: "When the cats away the mouse will play".

Here is my colleague Jeffrey Gallup's paper on the 1998 Cambodian Elections.

Viraden's and my land case in Takhmau is brewing up again with a new road and the heavy rains beginning. You can read about it here. My four representations to authorities are here too.

April 2018

One of the best articles recently byy Abbie Sieff about development on the Mekong that is seriously impacting populations depending on it, including indigenous peoples.

Update February 2018

Please see this excellent conference write-up hosted by University of Wilmington.

October 2017

Mondulkiri has featured in two articles in popular travel media - one for backpackers and the other eco-tourism.. They stimulated a great response from potential visitors.

We are referring them Mr Tuon Vanny or Ms Rouerng Heng at the Elephant Community Project .  If anyone else wishes to be contacted and added here, please let John Lowrie know:

Vanny: Mondulkiri Ethnic  Project Manager &Tour Organizer

Address: Koh Kromom  Village, Sangkat Sokdum ,Krong Sen Monorom, Mondulkiri province.

Tel : +855(0) 11 35 18 41,97 82 69 74 ;

July 2017

I need to make available a personal paper, of interest to but not directly relevant to MRDC, for my latest blog. It is called "Drill Baby Drill." John Lowrie

June 2017

Excellent report and worthy recognition of the fine efforts of Sylvain over many years.  Well done and thank you.

1 August 2016

Many local NGOs worry about external audits and evaluations. They are however a reality of development aid today as many donors now rely on them to attest to the quality, effectiveness, and honesty of their grantees or partners. All our partners are by now familiar with auditors but less so evaluators. Steven A Zyck has written an article about evaluations, and though it is written in jest, he makes some valid points to help you understand the process. You can read it here.

June 2016

Very sad news today.  The organisation that helped MIPAD to start up is closing.  We have sent the following message:

6 July 2016 at 07:55
To: Rebecca Adamson <>
Dear Rebecca

I am sad to see you go, especially as I find in SE Asia that somehow
donors - who are otherwise generous with other other vulnerable groups
-keep skipping over indigenous people whose ancestral lands are being
confiscated for economic development that largely excludes them.

However, thanks to the first grant from FPW, the "Mondulkiri
Indigenous People's Association for development" was founded and is
till doing well, if not as well as we would all hope for

Our very best wishes to you.

John Lowrie

January 2016

A veritable "Hornet's Nest" has been stirred up on my old home, the tiny island of Saint Helena with a population of less than 5,000 inhabitants.  It's all to do with allegations of child abuse.  To many people in Cambodia, it is a "storm in a tea cup" given the scale and severity of such problems that exist here.  Yet as I have postulated, Cambodia can offer lessons, and even insight in to indigenous people's culture can help.  One useful basis is ScF's excellent child-friendly version of the United Nations Covenant on the Rights of the Child. You can read more here.

Traditional Healers will be very pleased by Rob Scheider's experience and praise.  Please go to his blog.  Rob makes a valid point: "No good comes from force, as any true healer can tell you".

We find that some media reports still confuse traditional health practitioners with "sorcerers". Even though indigenous people believe in the spirits, reporters should take care not to miscast everyone as "quacks". Input in to official Cambodian policy is set out in this presentation.

Certainly the Khmer Rouge did untold harm to the reputation of traditional healers, but their forced adoption of certain practices was not so much based on an inherent belief in their efficacy but more their irrational attempt to purge society of modern education and science.  A good paper is uploaded here.

December 2015

Congratulations on the formal registration of the Cambodia Indigenous Peoples Democracy Party, now registered legally as a political party in Cambodia. For more go here.

November 2015

My long-time ICT colleagues Andy & Ming Price and I visited Ratanakkiri and Mondulkiri for field-work to prepare our full proposal to Development Innovations/USAID called: "Cambodia’s First Peoples in the Cyber-Age".

Great to meet these 14 Jarai ethnic minority school-girls keen to acquire ICT skills. One thing we learned from them is that they need early career guidance to know of wider opportunities for girls. Their modest ambitions, as they told me, one wants to be a doctor; four to be nurses, and all the rest teachers!

HelpAge International kindly helped me to trace some of my work from Rwanda. You can read a couple of articles here - Article 1; Article 2 Part 1, and Part 2. Also an extract from the 1996 HelpAge Annual Report that included my celebrated poster. Remember those old days of photographic film and black & white as preferred medium? You can read more about my time in Rwanda, just search "Rwanda" in my blogsite., or click here to start one.

September 2015

We are pleased to announce that this site is up and running again. Please see the announcement on the Home Page.  We will try to catch up on and report on important news and developments.

While we were away…..

I see that some Bunong people have formed their own political party.  It is good to see that they are exercising their rights to do so.  I wish them well but caution them to take care and to co-operate where they can with the other political parties and/or NGOs.  There are in particular quite a number of organizations representing indigenous peoples and causes – with risk of confusion and losing clarity of the most important messages.

Unity really is strength!

Caption courtesy of:

Indigenous rights are of course human rights. Unfortunately Cambodia's human rights organisations sometimes use indigenous issues to support wider issues, when it may be better for them to be kept apart and pursue constructive engagement instead. For Nomad RSI, this is always tried first. It is not the case generally where the adversarial approach is taken - as described in this paper to a major conference in Phnom Penh. (The original content was authored by my former colleague, Jeffrey C Gallup, who I still think has produced the best paper on Cambodia's elections.)

Ethnic Minorities in Mondolkiri Band Together in New Political Party

 By Khy Sovuthy | September 3, 2015

Indigenous people in Mondolkiri province have joined together to form a new political party to give a voice to the country’s minority groups, a party official said Wednesday.
Sroy Khet, an ethnic Bunong and interim deputy leader of the Cambodian Indigenous Democracy Party (CIDP), said that more than 20 indigenous people had decided to create the party, adding that most of the founders had previous experience in civil society.

“We have had the intention to create the party since 2005, but we did not have the ability to create it,” he said. “We will defend all Cambodians’ identities, beliefs, languages, customs and cultures.”
Mr. Khet said the nascent party already had the required minimum of 80 supporters and the proper documentation to register with the Interior Ministry, and that it planned to do so in November.

Sok Ratha, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said he had met with the CIDP’s founders and discussed the reasons they wanted to form a new party.

“They think that Cambodian politicians do not understand what they want,” he said. “They think that only indigenous people understand their difficult living conditions and their customs.”

Mr. Ratha added that the 20 founders had stressed that they were independent from any other political groups in the country.

The CIDP would be the fifth political party to be registered this year, with radio station owner Mam Sonando, former NGO director Yeng Vireak, dissident Suon Serey Ratha and ousted CNRP official Lak Sopheap all heading new parties.

Yun Mane, executive director of the Cambodian Indigenous People Organization, said that if the CIDP’s leaders could find ways to finance the party, it could be an important influence.

“I think it will give more voice for their people in the future and it also can bring more attention to their own issues,” she said. “It’s about addressing the land issues…and other challenges like education and health.”

(Additional reporting by Anthony Jensen)

June 2015

Mr John Lowrie, General Co-ordinator of our INGO partner, Nomad RSI vacated the post as Nomad has no more directly-managed projects. Today the work in Mondulkiri is being conducted by MIPAD with Nomad RSI represented by its two nominees on the MIPAD Board of Directors. John said “MIPAD is now sufficiently confident of going forward under its own leadership.  However, I will continue to work with other indigenous groups who want my help”

May 2015

MIPAD has the bitter-sweet news that while two donors are unable to continue funding, one new one has been attracted.  How this will impact on MIPAD will be discussed at a General Assembly meeting (AGM) soon to be held.

April 2015

The Nomad RSI Annual Report for 2014 is now published. This incorporates the first MIPAD Annual Report. It can be viewed in its entirety on the Nomad RSI website, or here in Part 1 and Part 2.

March 2015

The Khmer Times invited John Lowrie to write and article about Cambodia's Indigenous People, culture and language.  You can access the online version here, or his own fuller version with references here.

Thanks fo Mr Daniels for the comment "An excellent article explaining several of the threats to the indigenous highlander culture on the northeast frontier. I've always respected NOMAD's work immensely and am thankful a few of our Bunong highlander university graduates have been able to assist your NGO in the past."

Tommy Daniels, Pres./Chairman
Cambodia Corps, Inc. (CCi)

Our reply to him can be seen on the blog as per link above:

February 2015

A rather pessimistic but realistic assesssment of the fate awaiting Bunong People, partly based on their own predictions collected by MRDC.

We are members of a world wide community of endangered indigenous peoples and culture. Usually it is too late to prevent some harm as places have opened up and changes - unanticipated, not carefully-managed - have already taken place. Here, there is one exception, John Lowrie warns about the dangers.....and opportunities that the 4,000 people of St Helena will enjoy or regret.

January 2015

Nomad RSI's Board Secretary, Ms Elisabeth Dodinet visited Mondulkiri and kindly lent her expertise to helping MIPAD develop its organisational policies and procedures. A special thank you to her!

October 2014

The Phnom Penh Post Weekend Edition carried a feature on Bunong weddings based on MRDC's latest exhibtion:

For more on the exhibition, please see Bunthy's postings here.

September 2014

A great report and superb format by "With their culture near extinction, some Bunong are fighting back. Check out my story (mid-air) in Fah Thai or here":

August 2014

We are pleased to congratulate Ms Vanny Rath on her graduation and completion of her thesis about the Health Perceptions of Bunong Indigenous People. Her profile can be seen here or as in our volunteers page.  Currently she is helping our partners CIYA as she searches for employment. Rath's findings mirror those of our partners CIAI who examined maternal health issues - report may be accessed here.

July 2014

Our eco-tourism project has been included in a widely-circulated article within the travel industry and child care circles, as a good example of responsible, ethical tourism through properly-organized and supervised community visits by tourists.  You can access the article here called "Holidays are when children are most risk!" More features on the project can be seen on our Facebook page.

June 2014

17 June - MRDC, MIPAD and Nomad RSI featured in a French newspaper, as per this link.

3 June 2014 – please see the award of funding for our project ”Sustainable Livelihoods and Natural Resources Management (SLNRM) through Winrock International here.

April 2014

Please see New Projects, Updates for the exciting new collaboration with local partners and eco-tourism project, brochure here. Please also go to our Facebook Page for latest features.

March 2014

We are all very sad to have heard of the death of our good friend and most notable Bunong musician, Nyel Che, who of course starred for us at the opening of the MRDC. The Phnom Penh Post has given an excellent tribute to him:

February 2014

The film crew has advised us that their film on Bunong Traditional Medicine will be released in May.  "Watch this Space!" for more details nearer the time.

We are pleased to see that the Exeter Express and Echo featured a story that included MRDC volunteers and our Putaing Traditional Dancing Group.  The aim of the article was to encourage tourists and volunteers to be sure of supporting worthy causes, rather than dubious "orphanages" where children are exploited. For a larger version to read, please click here.

31 January 2014

Nomad RSI has released in French the latest newsletter.  You can view it here. If you are interested in finding out more about Nomad and MIPAD, or supporting us, please go here:  There is also a link to Paypal.

December 2013/January 2014

The inaugural General Assembly of MIPAD took place. Please see full report here.

The new MRDC Centre is opening soon "Watch this space!"

August 2013

We are pleased to ammounce the launch of our Bunong Indigenous People's Eco-Tourism venture - available through this link.

You may also want to access this video showing Bunong communities to be displaced by the hydropower project, released by NGO Forum for International Day for Indigenous Peoples:

July 2013

An article about traditional medicine in Cambodia was published - it may be read here.

June 2013

Sadly we did not make it with Forum Syd, as they wanted NGO partners that are more advanced than MIPAD, but the experience was very useful for learning and to help us make plans.  We are fortunate though to be making good progress in co-operation with other partner NGOs that have the same interests as us.

We have decided that the first full General Assembly (AGM) with representatives from all participating MIPAD village association members will take place in November this year, after the main rains have finished.  Elections will be held to appoint MIPAD leaders. We will publish details later.

April 2013

We are pleased to announce the release of a Rattanakiri version to complement our Bunong “Food From The Forest” book again prepared in co-operation with NTFP-EP - see August 2012 below.

March 2013

Nomad RSI and MIPAD are pleased to have been selected by Forum Syd to be eligible to become a partner of theirs. Over the next few weeks, we will explore togther scope and possibilities for mutual co-operation.

MIPAD conducted a workshop on 27 February to firm up its plans - please refer to MIPAD pages here.

December 2012

We apologize for the reduced service as we have had to downsize due to financial restrictions as we await funding.  We are operating now from Nomad RSI's office in Sen Monorom. Congratulations to our local organisation "MIPAD" now registered officially and operating. The federation of self-help groups is strengthening especially now that 8 new groups are being developed thanks to funding from the Kadoorie Charitable Foundation.

We are pleased to include here the research findings of the study by CIAI and Nomad RSI on health rights of Bunong people, special thanks to Eizabeth Lavoisier.

Our latest research co-operation with partners in Rattanakiri - concerning wild foods and their importance to food secuirity of indigenous peoples - is now available from us - the first 12 pages including the executive summary and rationale may be accessed here.

October 2012

Congratulations to Chran Dim our first Bunong graduate in traditional health whose story features in the first edition of the new Cambodian Traditional Healer Association Newlsetter than be accessed here. Dim and his father's story are featuring in a Frenc h documentary series to be aired in 2014.

UNDP in its latest newsletter, No 35, gives important advice on rights for Indigenous People in order to be sure of voting in the 2013 National Election. For the full article go to:

August 2012

We are still waiting for new funds and in order to downsize have moved to operate from within Nomad's centre. We apologize for any inconvenience.

There is a new book available from us called "Bunong Food from the Forest" that explains the importance of "non-timber forestry products" for our health and well-being, with illustrated traditional recipes.

A very good article was published on the Creative Industries and Services Project (CISP) that may be accessed here.



January 2012

We wish all our visitors a very Happy New International Year.  MRDC will try its best to serve everyone in 2012, hopefully with new projects and funding under active consideration.

MRDC is currently awaiting new funds to operate, with our friends at UNESCO and others trying to help.  While these efforts take place, we are fortunate to have received a grant from Stephen Pfeiffer of Australian/US NGO "Stepsafe" to keep operations going for 5 months.  A very big thanks to Stephen and Stepsafe.

Mondulkiiri was visited this month by King Sihamoni as well as Prime Minister Hun Sen and senior ministers.  We hope that they heard first-hand from Indigenous People in order to take their interests in to account when planning the province's development and use of natural resources.

The Phnom Penh Post published an article that raises many important issues - you can read it here.

It also featured a general article on traditional medicine with the headline that it is in conflict with conventional medicine, and so discrediting it.  Our comments have been published on the Phnom Penh Post online edition.  A correction also had to be pointed out.


November 2011

Please see our November newsletter and details of the major cultural event held on Monday 28th November in Sen Monorom.

The report of the event, which was well-attended and very successful, may be read here.

October 2011

We have almost reached the end of the first phase of the MRDC project, thanks to our donors.  We will shortly submit a final report but a draft can be viewed here, and any comments/suggestions would be appreciated.

Previous page: Our Origins
Next page: Newsletters