THE CAUSE: Who Pays The Hidden Cost of Consumption Pt 2


Rural Empowerment Program

In Cambodia, the availability of water and food security are often issues at the top of the list of community needs and pressures. For subsistence farmers, survival depends on natural resources and predictable growing conditions. ACCI Field Workers Rebecca and Bandith Nhep are working with rural communities in Cambodia. Through consultations and community-led development, many of the villages they work with have identified a need to address food security. The chosen method has been to build resilient and sustainable livelihoods through permaculture.

Small permaculture farms enable subsistence rice farmers affected by changing weather patterns and reduced rainfall to ensure year round food security, generate income and reduce exposure to harmful pesticides and fertilisers. This also reduces their vulnerability to exploitative and unpredictable working environments as families become self-sustainable, rather than dependent on income from factories or seasonal labour. 

Permaculture farms allows a steady, constant supply of fresh vegetables to vulnerable families. The positive outcomes are manifold; household nutrition is boosted, harmful pesticide consumption is avoided, financial pressures reduce, as both vegetable and protein sources can be grown at home rather than purchased, and income streams are diversified as excess produce can be sold at markets.

This approach to community development empowers people to take more control over their lives and their futures. As communities become more self reliant, sustainable, and resilient, they are positioned to overcome future challenges together, without falling back into poverty or otherwise damaging and exploitative situations


ACCI fieldworkers and partners are working with communities impacted by climate change and natural resource mismanagement, but the most significant work needs to happen in the world’s wealthiest communities - who are the most at fault in global environmental destruction.

There is much that you can do to make a positive contribution to address this imbalance. Areas within your control include:

Living more simply. Reduce, reuse and recycle - this helps to address consumerism and overconsumption. The typical Australian has a carbon footprint 2.8 times greater than the average, and uses an enormous amount of natural resource per capita. There is both a dollar and a human cost to this.

Support local rather than global industries. Shop local, and reduce your dependence on coal based energies. Support companies that invest in renewable energy, and environmentally responsible businesses.

Reduce the amount of meat in your diet. Vegetarian meals are good for the body, and even better for the environment. Disproportionate amounts of clean water, topsoil and grain are used to fill the market demand for meat.


Contact your local MP about local, state or federal sustainability concerns. Pollution, energy use and carbon consumption patterns need far greater political attention and action. Australia is lagging dramatically in developing sustainable economic growth strategies and participation in global efforts to address environmental degradation.