The Lower Sesan River in Cambodia is a major tributary to the Mekong River. The Sesan River flows from sources in the central Vietnam highland and into Cambodia’s northeastern provinces of Ratanakiri, Steung Treng, and Mondulkiri, before flowing into the Mekong River at Stung Treng District. Approximately 96,000 people, including more than 10 indigenous and ethnic groups, depend on the Sesan river basin for its fisheries, traditional agriculture like rice farming, and non-timber forest products (NTFP). However, the basin is under threat from a significant number of existing and proposed hydro dams, including in Vietnam. Already, approximately 10 percent of the river basin’s forests have been lost to logging for timber, industrial plantations, expansion of agriculture, and the creation of reservoirs for hydropower and irrigation purposes. The Lower Sesan River Waterkeeper will empower local communities to exercise their rights to manage their resources, through community-based advocacy and conserving biodiversity, in order to ensure sustainable livelihoods and food security.
Bunleap Leang is the Sesan River Waterkeeper and the Executive Director of its sponsoring organization, the 3S River Protection Network (3SPN), an NGO established in 2005 to protect the Sesan, Srepok, and Sekong Rivers in Cambodia. Since 2016, Bunleap has led the organization’s general management, fundraising, institutional capacity building, strategic planning, and policy reform efforts, while building cooperation with donors and partners at all levels. He gained his Master of Educational Management Science and Master of Development Study from Royal University of Phnom Penh, and Master of Public Policy and Management from the Combined University of Brunei Darussalam in Brunei and University of Maryland College Park in the U.S. Bunleap has worked for more than 20 years with the government and NGOs in Cambodia, and has served as a school principal, Executive Director of The Children for Better Future, and Project Manager with Wathnakpheap—a Cambodian NGO working to promote the livelihood of people living in rural areas through access to good quality education and healthcare. Now as the Lower Sesan River Waterkeeper, Bunleap is committed to protecting the river basin from proposed hydropower dam projects by empowering and building the capacity of community networks along the rivers in conducting active research to use in evidence-based advocacy activities.
Village, Sangkat Beung Kanseng, Banlung
Phnom Svay Village, Sangkat Beung Kansen, Rattanakiri Province