The European Union has completed projects in eight provinces that began in 2016 and were aimed at strengthening community participation in decisions made by local authorities.
An EU delegation last week visited one of the projects in Siem Reap province, where civil society encouraged people to take part in finding ways to develop their communities.
The EU projects, named “Strengthening Civil Society Organisation Networks for Inclusive Development”, were jointly implemented by NGOs Voluntary Service Overseas, Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, NGO Forum and Gender and Development for Cambodia in collaboration with provincial civil society networks.
The projects, which ended in September, were set up with EU funding of about $1 million in Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Stung Treng, Ratanakkiri, Mondulkiri and Kratie provinces.
Prum Bopha, leader of the Svay Rieng provincial CSO network, said that the people in her community benefited from the project in Svay Teu commune, where villagers were empowered to speak out about commune development budgets.
“During the project, there was good cooperation and communication between the commune authorities and the network,” she said. “Before, people were not interested in any commune affairs, but now they are taking part in the decision making because they understand that it is their right to do so.”
“We want the project to continue because we want to expand it to more target communes,” she added. “Although our project ended in September, we will find a new sponsor to continue it and keep working with the authorities.”
The ultimate goal of the project was to leave no one behind in community development and ensure that multi-actor partnerships make a difference in ending exclusion, marginalisation and poverty.
Keo Sakhorn, Svay Teu deputy commune chief, said that he welcomed community participation in policy choices.
“The people are more knowledgeable about development projects and the transparency of the commune budget,” he said. “Previously, we did not have people challenging us, but now they have the chance to challenge us and we are in return thankful to them for informing us about their concerns.”
EU Ambassador to Cambodia George Edgar said “inclusive governance is critical to democratic, accountable, and sustainable development”.
Mr Edgar noted that the continuance of the projects will depend on budget restrictions.