Together with the Utokapat Foundation, The Coca-Cola Foundation has helped local farmers in Thailand improve their livelihoods and conserve water through a centuries-old technology known locally as “monkey cheeks”.

Monkey cheeks are a series of canals that store water. Through a system of gates, the water level can be controlled thus protecting crops from extremes of floods and droughts. The monkey cheeks enable farmers to diversify the crops they grow to include everything from rice, corn, grass and ornamental plants. 

When the project first began in 2008, local farmers were facing large debts as a result of a drought that lasted more than two years. As the monkey cheeks and gates were constructed, farmers were able to begin planting and harvesting profitable crops again. Then in 2011, when Thailand was struck by devastating floods, the monkey cheeks again helped farmers avoid crop loss.

The Foundation’s funding not only provided for construction of the monkey cheeks, but also supported a network that connects various villages to the latest weather information so that water flows through the entire system can be coordinated.