Raising chickens brings hope and a new home to Kem Touch

Poverty Graduation Series (Part One)

December 19, 2023

Kem Touch is sitting outside of her home in the Teuk Phos district of Kampong Chhnang province looking at the rice fields around her home. Her chicken are clucking nearby, and her plot of land is lush green with a good rice crop. While she looks happy and content now, she was suffering from poverty and deprivation not long ago.

“I never went to school,” Touch begins. “I don’t even know how to write my name. I only know how to farm.” Touch tells us her story.  

Touch, who lost her parents, is living alone now. Earlier, Touch used to farm her land. However, since her land was less fertile, it was never sufficient to meet her livelihood needs. She therefore has to harvest cassava in other provinces on other peoples’ lands to earn a living. She eventually sold her land and bought the plot of land where she lives today.

“For the first four months [on this new plot of land], I only had a bed and a tent. I had troubles falling asleep when it rained, sometimes I had to stay awake all night until dawn,” Touch explains.

She did not have any capital then and requested a loan from her relatives to buy chickens. She bought 12 chickens that reproduced 200 chicks. Yet when it was time to sell them, they all died, leaving Touch in greater debt than she was before.

It was around this time in 2020 that Touch was invited to participate in the UNDP supported Graduation Based Social Protection (GBSP) project. In partnership with Cambodia’s General Secretariat for the National Social Protection Council, the Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation and the Ministry of Interior, the project has been piloting a graduation-based social protection scheme, which bridges between social assistance and productive livelihoods through providing micro capital for investment in income generating activities to 2,400 households in addition to a monthly consumption stipend and life skills training. The pilot was designed to accommodate the special needs of women and persons with disabilities. It reaches to people like Touch and assists them to improve their livelihoods, increase their income generation capacities, plan their future and, ultimately, secure a  lasting self-sufficiency and graduation from poverty.

As part of the project, Touch received 15 chickens, zinc sheets for roofing, netting and vaccines to build her coop, in addition to life skills training and 40,000 Cambodian Riels (US$10) per month as stipend for her personal needs. she was also trained on raising chicken, in addition to sanitation, vaccination and other healthcare for poultry to avoid a loss like the one she previously faced.

Touch can now earn 250,000 Riels ($62.50) to 300,000 Riels ($75) from selling her chicken coop when she needs money. Building on her success, Touch talks about her future plans to expand her chicken coop and boost her sales.

“I used to live in a tent, but now I have my own home,” she explains proudly. “I have a chicken coop, a pigsty, pigs to raise and chickens to raise - which I will further expand in the future. Even if there is no project team to assist me in the future, I can help myself. I am motivated to do better, to be stronger and to have a better life.”

This story is part one of a two-part series covering the experience of households participating in UNDP supported Graduation Based Social Protection (GBSP) project. Read part two here or learn more about the GBSP project

Watch Ms. Kem Touch's interview: Available in Khmer and English.


Contact: Ms. Chhunmuoy Ath, Communications Analyst, UNDP Cambodia at communications.kh@undp.org