More than 25,000 people live in the eight communes surrounding Mondulkiri Protected Forest and Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary – about 30% of the total population of Mondulkiri province. These communities are comprised of eleven ethnic groups, the indigenous Bunong, Khmer, and Lao being the three largest.
The area was largely depopulated during the Khmer Rouge period and in the time that followed. Many families did not return to their villages until the late 1990s. Today, population size within the protected area’s community zones is increasing by about 800 people each year. This trend is likely to continue due to natural population increase and continuing immigration.
Access to basic social services is relatively low as a result of inadequate facilities and poor service quality. Streams and rivers are the primary source of domestic water supply, with a limited number of hand-pumped tube wells in some communities. There are primary schools in all villages, but the number of classrooms and teachers is insufficient in more remote areas. Literacy rates are low throughout the area.