Preserving Cambodia's environment and supporting rural communities

Our Story
MJP was founded in 2003 as a conservation and community development program in the Samlout Protected Area. Our aim was to provide support to rural local villages and help protect endangered wildlife and forests. Our first task was a landmine clearance program to help clear contaminated areas of the countryside in one of the areas of the country most affected by conflict. In 2006 the MJP Program expanded its work to include projects in agriculture, education, gender equality and healthcare. (Photo: Angelina and Maddox in the early years of the MJP Foundation).
Our Approach
Our ethos is to support Cambodians as they develop their communities and protect their natural resources. Working in remote, post-conflict communities, MJP helps vulnerable families in rural communities to meet basic needs and access services in health and education. As we have grown, we have worked hard to ensure we consider all aspects of rural community development. Support for women’s empowerment is also a central component of everything we do, from agriculture to education.
Samlout Protected Area
The Cambodian Government declared Samlout a ‘Protected Area’ in 1993 to support long-term conservation of its wildlife and ecosystem. The area comprises approximately 60,000 hectares of land near the Thai border. It contains most of the regions biodiversity, with forests, freshwater ecosystems and a variety of endangered species. However, wildlife poaching, mining and land grabs continue to pose a significant challenge. MJP works in partnership with the local authorities as they seek to protect the land, wildlife and forests.
Our Partnerships
Over the last decade we have combined our local skills and knowledge with other organisations and government to promote and improve the health and livelihoods of the rural communities, wildlife and forests in the Samlout Protected Area. We work in partnership with local communities to provide employment opportunities across all of our projects. With our partners we have built two health care centres and a maternity ward, as well as a kindergarten school and library.
Our Team
The MJP Foundation is a team project, locally run by Cambodia staff and for the people of Cambodia. We are 100% Cambodian. Most of the MJP team live in local villages. This enables us to directly interact with all the communities. The MJP office is based in Battambang and our field office is in Samlout.
Our Founder
Angelina Jolie first visited Cambodia in 2000 when she made the film Tomb Raider. She was struck by the beauty of the country and the resilience, graciousness and warmth of the Cambodian people. A year later she returned with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). In 2003 she set-up the Maddox Jolie Program that is today the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation (MJP).


Deforestation is a major problem in Cambodia. The last intact tropical forest in northwest Cambodia is threatened by illegal logging, land encroachment and poaching. MJP works with local communities and the Ministry of Environment to help conserve this vital ecosystem, rich in biodiversity. We fund a team of local rangers, and work with schools to educate children on protecting their natural environment and share environmental knowledge.



Access to schools and trained teachers is still limited in rural Cambodia. MJP works with teachers in ten primary and secondary schools to improve education, teaching and school facilities. We have renovated and furnished ten school buildings in Samlout. Our education program has helped 15,000 students, equipped classrooms with textbooks, provided mobile libraries, and developed literacy classes and reading clubs.


Economic Growth

Some 80% of the population in Samlout live below the international poverty line and personal debt is a major issue. MJP’s locally-run micro-credit project provides small loans and financial advice to the poorest households in seven villages. We help individuals and communities to manage their finance with interest-free loans, support and training.



Around 80% of the rural population in Cambodia works in agriculture. Levels of poverty are high and access to safe and nutritious food is a problem for many families. Improving food security and nutritional wellbeing is central to MJP’s poverty reduction work. We provide practical training to farmers and the community to help them make the best use of their livestock, land and resources.


Women’s Empowerment

MJP is committed to empowerment and equal rights for women and girls. We work with local women’s representatives to organise gender awareness campaigns against domestic violence and human trafficking and to promote positive health practices. We help to provide vocational skills training for the most vulnerable girls, and additional support for the poorest female-headed households.



MJP helps provide sustainable healthcare to the local community through two clinics, a maternity ward and training and outreach, working in partnership with local authorities. Our work includes maternal health, reducing child mortality and undernutrition, eye and dental care, hygiene and sanitation guidance, and training for teachers and young mothers.


Cambodia has a rich history that dates back to the Khmer Empire in the early 9th century. The monuments of Angkor Wat and Bayon are testimony to the Empire’s immense power and wealth, diverse art and culture. The history of Cambodia is overshadowed by the rule of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, which resulted in one of the 20th century’s worst human atrocities. Between 1975 and 1979 the Khmer Rouge regime claimed the lives of nearly a quarter of the Cambodian population. Cambodia still bears the legacy of that difficult past, but is a country of immense beauty, resilience and promise for the future.

Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia, and one of the least developed countries in the world in terms of access to food, health and education. The majority of Cambodians live in rural areas. According to the World Bank 79% of the population do not have access to piped water supply and 58% do not have access to sanitation. WHO data indicates that Cambodia continues to make in raising living standards, maternal health, early childhood development and primary education programs in rural areas.

Cambodia is one of the most heavily mined areas in the world. Landmines have killed or maimed thousands of people nationwide. De-mining is a crucial part of reintegrating people after the long-running conflict. Development has been hindered by millions of landmines laid in the 1970s and 1980s, that still lie throughout the countryside. Landmines currently contaminate an area of approximately 1,700 square kilometres in Cambodia. As well as threatening lives, landmines limit development by restricting access to land, water, roads and health and education services.

Cambodia is blessed with natural resources and is one of the most bio-diverse countries in Southeast Asia. Its forests are home to several endangered species that have disappeared from neighbouring countries. But this rich environment is under threat from logging, mining, poaching and agricultural encroachment. Further loss of the forests and natural habitats would harm or destroy wildlife and affect millions of people living in remote areas who rely on the land or its resources. Conservation is essential for rural livelihoods and the preservation of the diverse eco-system.

Zero Snaring Campaign
Southeast Asia is one of the most biologically diverse regions on Earth. The widespread use of snares is threatening the balance of this environment. Snares are animal traps shaped in the form of flexible noses made of cable, wire, or rope, and have caused a major decline in wildlife populations. Despite this there is some positive news to share. A Zero Snaring campaign was launched in Cambodia last year and has resulted in the removal of an estimated 40% of snares, and the confiscation of 50% of homemade guns, in protected areas like the one where my family has worked with a local team for over twenty years to try to slow deforestation and protect the forest and its wildlife. Our MJP team has camera traps in place at night to monitor wildlife activity and send these recent images. July 2023

#ZeroSnaringCampaign #Cambodia #StopTheSnares

World Bee Day
MJP is celebrating World Bee Day! We understand the importance of the honey bee to Cambodia, and to the world, in providing vital pollination services and keeping our food production systems healthy. We are also well aware that bees and other insects are threatened by habitat loss, pesticides and changing climate.

We have been working with bees since 2010, first with wild honey, and more recently with bee-keeping in Samlot. In 2019, our President Angelina Jolie began a partnership with Guerlain and UNESCO, and became their “ Godmother of Women for Bees Program”. UNESCO run the Women and Bees programme in the Angkor biosphere reserve in Siem Reap province, and provide training to women bee-keepers in Samlot.

This year at MJP we have focused on the care of stingless bees, a native bee type, small in size, and known for the quality of its honey. MJP is hoping to continue to work with the poorest women, setting them up in an independent livelihood, reducing pesticide use in farming practice, and widening the understanding and appreciation of young people and community members about the value of their natural forest resources. May 2022

Protecting Cambodia’s Forest
Cambodia’s forests are a vital part of the network of habitats in Southeast Asia supporting endangered wildlife and supporting biodiversity. As we know, they are under real threat, alongside forest cover across the world. The natural beauty of Cambodia, as well as its amazing ecosystems – including the rivers and the Tonle Sap Lake.
MJP Foundation works alongside the Ministry of Environment to support rangers to patrol the Samlaut forest.

Here is Channoun, one of our female rangers. Her story is powerful – a young woman from the remote countryside who did not finish high school, but who loved nature so much that she took on a ranger’s uniform and a rifle to protection the environment she grew up in. She works with communities, students and monks, and in the last 5 years, the rangers have conducted nearly 5000 patrols, dealt with over 800 cases, and arrested 360 offenders.
Channoun has determined to show that women can do all the works that men can do, and to be a role model for girls in her community. “Young people must engage with the destruction of the natural world going on all around them, so we can help change course before it is too late”. Oct 2021

Keeping the Spirit of World Environment Day (WED)
Despite this year’s covid restrictions, we have kept spirit of World Environment Day alive – organizing a much smaller tree planting event in Samlout and Pailin province. More than a hundred people – including rangers, staff of Provincial Department of Environment in Pailin and MJP staff – participated in tree planting events. Over 1,300 tree seedlings including a variety of fruit trees, rare trees, and flower trees were planted.

At the national level, Ministry of Environment (MoE) celebrates and promotes this year WED with the theme “Biodiversity and Human Health”. Minister Say Sam Al of MoE said, “The Ministry of Environment requests local authorities to promote participation in sanitation, tree planting and proper waste disposal to avoid burning of litter or waste mismanagement that may affect human and animal health and environmental quality”.

There are now six nurseries, of which five are community nurseries, being supported by MJP and around 7,400 seedlings of various species ready to be transplanted this rainy season. Environment Day is just the beginning for tree planting activities.

To contribute to the government’s effort, MJP has been actively engaging with local partners, community members, monks and students with several awareness and educational events. Conserving Samlaut forest and restoring the green coverage to the district is a priority for MJP’s founder, Angelina Jolie. July 2021

Elephants are Still Here in Samlaut Forest
In the past, Samlaut forest was known by another name: the Hundred Elephants Forest. It was the natural habitat for large herds of wild Asian elephants.  Many believe that scared by local conflict, landmine explosions, and deforestation, the elephants had migrated to the adjacent forests in Thailand and that there were no elephants left in Samlaut. However, evidence collected in the last five years has proven that there are still some elephants living in and traveling through the districts forested areas.

In mid 2018, villagers in O’Slev village, 7-10km west of MJP field office, reported that they saw a small herd of 3-5 elephant gazing by a stream. In April 2019, another small herd of elephants was spotted near a road construction site, along the Thai-Cambodian border, 15km west of Pailin provincial town. In January 2020, a big herd of elephants was spotted crossing the border from Thailand into Cambodia at a point called Border Gate 400, 20km southwest of JMP field office. And in May 2021, fresh tracks and elephant dung were found at several locations within the protected area by an MoE research team, led by Rachel Crouthers. MJP had provided accommodation and logistics support to their field mission.

Our rangers will continue monitor and gather more evidence of the elephants’ presence in the forests of Samlaut. Long Laen, MJP’s Natural Resource Management Program officer, said “The protected forest of Samlaut is still a potential sanctuary for elephants and wildlife. A more thorough wildlife survey using camera traps and drones would help to reconfirm the population on wildlife and elephants in SMUA.” Such confirmation is expected from a biodiversity survey to be carried out in the next six months by MoE, Flora and Fauna International, and the MJP Foundation. July 2021

Protecting wildlife in the time of Covid-19
The Covid-19 virus, which developed from the capture and sale of endangered wildlife, is now having significant impact on the capacity of countries to protect wildlife across Africa and Asia.  Globally, revenue for systematic protection from wildlife tourism has been slashed, and many communities and households who can no longer work and support themselves because of lockdown have turned to illegal hunting and poaching, for self-sufficiency and for sale.

Fortunately, the MJP Foundation has been able to continue supporting its patrol teams from the Ministry of Environment to protect the wildlife and forests of the conservation zone in Samlaut District, despite the restrictions on movement imposed in recent months.  Rangers have also delivered awareness sessions on the importance of conserving endangered wildlife to local villagers. MJP has also dug a pond to store water and planted fruit trees next to the conservation area for the benefit of wildlife during the dry season.

Over the last two years, rangers have removed and confiscated quantities of illegal hunting material, including homemade guns, snares and electrical wires from hunters. The teams have also rescued wildlife, such as pythons, pangolins, deer, turtles, hornbills.

MJP hopes to complete a full biodiversity study of the conservation zone in Samlaut district before the end of the year, with a view to complementing the on-going Ministry of Education zoning exercise in the area. These efforts will contribute to greater systemic protection of a vital part of Cambodia’s forest habitat and wildlife. Oct 2020

New motorbikes for Field Patrol
In partnership with the Ministry of Environment, MJP is helping to protect more than thousands of hectares of forest, indigenous flora and habitat for wildlife in Samlout district, between Battambang and Pailin Provinces. The five Samlout Law Enforcement and Conservation Teams (SLECT) are made up of officers from the Ministry of Environment, Border Police and Military Police officers. The forest rangers carry out field patrols by motorbike so that they provide comprehensive coverage of the wide area under their responsibility. In April 2020, MJP purchased new motorbikes to replace the old ones the rangers have been using.

Mr. Yong Sarith, forest ranger, says “I am so exciting to receive these brand new motorbikes for my ranger team for field patrols. The old motorbikes were no longer up to the task of protecting the forest in this rough terrain”. May 2020

MJP’s intervention on COVID-19
Following the news of the first cases of COVID-19 in Cambodia, MJP immediately began implementing activities to help protect communities in Samlot district, as well as MJP staff members and their families. Up to date information on COVID-19 from reliable sources (such as MoH Cambodia and the WHO) have been shared regularly with all staff. Hand washing gel, soaps, face masks, and thermometers have been installed at MJP working stations and to the ranger teams. The MJP health team is providing vital information about COVID-19 to local villagers through mobile loudspeaker in public areas, including the District Office and health centers. Hundreds of education posters and leaflets with messages about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have been printed and posted in the health center, markets, commune centers, and pagodas. All program activities requiring community or group gatherings have been suspended. MJP is developing a contingency plan for emergency response interventions for the district in the event that the public health, social and economic situation deteriorates dramatically.  March 2020
Home Gardening
Food security and a stable source of income are big challenges for the poorest farmers in Samlaut district. MJP work with households with small land holdings to build a livelihood via homestead food production. Growing vegetables for consumption and for sale both strengthens the nutritional intake of families and provides income to those whose opportunities for alternative employment are scant.

Phem Sok Chea, 34 years, is one such smallholder. She lives on a plot of land 20m by 80 m in Boeng Run village, and formerly her family depended on the labour of her husband for their livelihood. In the last few months, MJP has trained Chea to manage her own home gardening project and provided seeds to plant on the land around her house – garlic, gourds, long beans, water convolvulus and lettuces. In just a few months, her family is eating more fresh vegetables, and she has saved $300. She has shared some vegetables with her neighbours, who are keen to follow her lead in the home gardening business. Chea plans to expand her home garden to include, cucumbers, chili, tomatoes, ivy gourds, and ridge gourds to make more savings for her family.

MJP will provide training and seeds to 15 more families during 2020 to help them achieve food and income security. March 2020

Race for Health 2020: 2nd Samlout Community Fun Run
A year after our first Race for Health for Race, 325 local school children enthusiastically participated in this year’s Fun Run, which was held on 30th January at the Chrab Krahoam Primary School and the MeancheayLower Secondary School.

The event was organized jointly by the MJP Health and Education teams, with active support from teachers from both schools and the local authorities.

The Fun Run is a now an annual event, and forms part of MJP’s efforts to highlight the benefits of physical exercise to children, to share important health messages with our community, and to promote a new project on non-communicable diseases at Boeng Run Health Centre.

The race was organized in three categories of 4 distances: 3km for the secondary school boys, 2km for the secondary school girls, 1.5km for the primary school children, and 500m for the walkers from both schools. The top 3 from each running group received well-deserved prizes.

One message all the participants agreed on was: See you in 2021! Feb 2020

Tree planting in Samlout
In July and August, MJP held several tree planting events with the local communities and schools, which have proved very popular with the students. At Ou Preh primary school over 150 students, local villagers, teachers and forest rangers came together to plant 320 new tree seedlings around the school grounds. The school Director, Mr. Phon Firet commented that over the last 4 years he has observed less rainfall and hotter weather due to deforestation. He welcomed the new trees which will benefit the local area and said that: “we will take care of these new tree seedlings and help to keep them alive and grow them for the next generation”. By the end of this year MJP aims to have planted 10,000 new young trees, as well as donating seedlings to the government and other NGOs, to help restore the forest in Samlout and Pailin Province. Aug 2019
Supporting girl's education in Samlout
The MJP Shiloh Assistance Program currently supports 10 students (5 girls) from vulnerable families in Samlout. Three new girls are receiving assistance programs this year. One of the new recipients is 14-year-old Roeung Sokla who is in grade 9 at Sre Andoung Lower Secondary School. She lives in Kantout village with her parents and two sisters. Her father lost a leg in a landmine accident. Sokla was close to dropping out of school. She often missed classes as she lives 3.5km from school and her family couldn’t afford notebooks for her classes and the school uniforms, which affected her grades. The MJP Shiloh Assistance Program has provided Sokla with a new bicycle, school uniforms, a set of learning materials, stationary, and an allowance. Sokla now regularly attends classes and has improved her grades. She is very happy and wants to complete high school so she can become a teacher. She said: “I want to thank MJP for changing my life”. July 2019
New MJP Field HQ
In July 2018 our staff moved into the newly-completed Samlout Field Headquarters (FHQ). The FHQ provides a dedicated facility for our staff, who support the local community medical centers, primary and secondary schools, and work with families to learn new agricultural skills to help generate incomes for their households. It is also the base for our long-term partners the Cambodian Rangers from the Ministry of Environment’s Protected Area Law Enforcement Unit, that patrols and monitors the Samlout forest for illegal poaching and logging. MJP President Angelina Jolie officially opened the new headquarters during her recent visit to Samlout. The MJP Country Director Munichan Kung said: “The new HQ means that the majority of our all-Cambodian team are now able to operate full time in the field. This project represents the long-term commitment between MJP and the Samlout community, providing a solid foundation for our future work”.  June 2019
Our New Female Ranger
26-year-old Am Channuon is the newest member of the MJP ranger team helping to protect the forest in Samlout. Ever since she was a young girl she has been passionate about the environment and dreamed of becoming a Natural Resource Protection Ranger. After months of training, she has now reached that goal. She is one of 38 MJP rangers (including 4 women) and she is the only woman in her team of 6 rangers. As a ranger, she carries out field patrols to counter illegal poaching and illegal logging in the Samlout forest. She also shares her environmental knowledge with the local villagers and students, holding environmental awareness training sessions to explain the importance of protecting natural resources. On becoming a ranger she said: “I really want to see more people involved in protecting the environment, to keep Samlout green, and to increase the wildlife populations for the next generation”. April 2019
Race for Health- Samlout Community Health Festival
On January 24, MJP organised the ‘Samlout Community Health Festival and Run’ in order to promote the benefits of regular exercise and healthy living. Over 300 students from the local Sre Andong secondary and primary schools took part in 2km and 4km races, designed to encourage the children to participate in sports. As part of the health festival, MJP organised health checks and a quiz to help inform and educate young people about non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes. The event brought the whole community together. One of the young runners, 15-year-old Sam Ang Munineath who is in grade 9A, said that the event “made learning about health fun”. In light of this success we hope to make this an annual community event. See you next year! Jan 2019
First recipient of the MJP Shiloh Assistance Program graduates
Last month, Moen Sokna successfully passed his grade 12 exams and graduated from Samlout High School. He is the first recipient of the MJP Shiloh Assistance Program. This is a huge achievement for Sokna. Both his parents were killed in a landmine accident after which Sokna and his brother abandoned their studies and dropped out of school. But with support and help from MJP, Sokna and his brother returned to school. Upon graduating Sokna said: “when I was a small boy, I didn’t expect to study after grade 8 because I was a village-boy from a poor family, but now my future is brighter”. He plans to train to become a teacher and help other children in Samlout gain an education. Sokna’s brother Samphos is still supported by MJP and attends Samlout High School.  October 2018
Planting 2,000 new trees in Samlout
To celebrate World Environment Day, MJP and members of the local community planted nearly 2,000 new trees at the Chrab Krahorm pagoda, Meanchey Buddhist commune in Samlout. Over 200 local villagers, students, teachers, monks, forestry officers and MJP staff spent a day together planting new seedlings to help regrow an area of the forest which had been cleared for illegal logging of timber. We are working with the local community to help tackle deforestation and promote the importance of protecting the environment. We hope that more tree planting days will be held in other communities in the district to help maintain the endangered forest in Samlout. August 2018
Beekeeping training for the local women's group
This month we have helped local villagers gain new skills in beekeeping, which can be used to set-up their own small businesses. In partnership with the Cambodian Natural Agriculture Skill Training Organisation (NASTO), MJP provided three days of technical training on farming and raising bees for the production of honey. One of the women participants said that she used to collect honey from the forest to sell, but it was very dangerous because of the unexploded land mines. Now she can safely produce and sell the honey. The local villagers are keen to expand their new network and form a beekeeping association in Samlout district.

July 2018