In a bid to combat plastic pollution in the Tonle Sap River, the NGO2 BambooShoot Foundation, along with a group of volunteer students, has initiated the Tonle Sap Lake Propeller Project. The programme aims to gather crucial data from tourist and fishing boat owners, as well as local communities.

Sea Sophal, director the NGO, shared with The Post on August 27 that the undertaking marks a novel effort wherein student volunteers undertake study visits to amass information linked to plastic waste encountered by boat drivers and owners along the water.

In its initial phase, participants from Angkor University have commenced data collection and interviews with 150 boat owners within the Kampong Phluk community.

“This project introduces a fresh campaign for Tonle Sap and coincides with the onset of the rainy season, serving to heighten awareness about plastic debris and encouraging contemplation on our river’s wellbeing,” said Sophal.

He went on to say that 16 students would be divided into three groups to visit households and fishing locations within the village. Their goal is to gather firsthand insights into challenges such as bags obstructing boat engines and the strategies employed to tackle such problems and manage such refuse.

“By September, we anticipate moving to Kampong Khleang, followed by Me Chrey in October, and Chong Khneas in November. We aim to complete our research across these four communities before the water levels recede. Our culminating event is scheduled for the end of this year, coinciding with National Sanitation Day on November 23,” Sophal added.

Ponga Photra, a lecturer at Angkor University leading the data collection by students, said the project signified an important collaboration between the organisation and the university.

Photra highlighted its integration into the curriculum for students in their refresher year, providing them with practical experience to contribute to environmental conservation.

“This project holds great value, fostering research ideas and foundations. It serves as an orientation, preparing them for the completion of their studies. Moreover, this effort enhances their comprehension of the implications of plastic rubbish and nets discarded in the water, particularly when entangled with propellers,” he said.