Decades of war and internal conflict have left Cambodia to be amongst the worlds’ poorest nations. Since 1997, the Southeast Asian country enjoyed relative stability and peace, while notable progress has been made in re-establishing institutions and forming an environment for economic growth. Macroeconomic growth was strong and among the fastest in the region averaging 8.4% between 1994 and 2008. Nonetheless, over one third of the country’s population lives below the national poverty line. The vast majority (90 percent) of Cambodia’s poor are found in rural areas, depending strongly on agriculture for their livelihood. However, 12 percent of them are landless.
|Poverty Headcount Ratio at National Poverty line (percent of pop)||30.1% (2007)|
|Life Expectancy at Birth, total (years)||61 (2008)|
|Literacy Rate, adult total (percent of people aged 15 and above)||78% (2008)|
|External Debt Stocks (percent of GNI)||45% (2009)|
|GNI per capita (current US $)||$610 (2009)|
|GDP annual growth (percent)||-1.9% (2009)|
|Inflation Consumer Prices (annual percent)||-0.7% (2009)|
|Rural Population (percent of total pop)||11,521,529|
|Net ODA Received (percent of central government expenditure)||84.7%|
CSO Case Stories
Civil society in Cambodia encompasses a diverse array of organizations that have played an active and important role in poverty reduction and sustainable development during the country’s challenging transition to democracy. While such a role has been recognised in a number of national policy documents including the Rectangular Strategy, the Political Platform for the 5th Legislature of National Assembly and the new Strategy for Development Cooperation and Partnership 2014-2018, but CSOs are not yet regarded as development actors in their own right or treated as such.
In recent years, legal instruments have been used against civil society to deter free speech and free assembly, and an already restrictive regulatory framework will be tightened even further with the introduction of a new law on NGOs and Association. Although the relationship between government institutions and civil society has been slightly improved, trust remains low. While a number of mechanisms for CSOs to engage in policy debates exist on a formal basis, de facto 3 representation and actual influence over the direction of Cambodian politics are more difficult to assess.
Cambodian civil society works in a difficult cultural and political environment. Local mainstream media lack genuine autonomy, with coverage often influenced by the Cambodian state. As a result, work by NGOs on sensitive issues such as land reform and national resource management is often not reported, limiting access to information for the public. While online platforms and the social media have somehow enabled CSOs to circumvent state-owned media, the adoption of a cybercrime law could put a stop to that.
Despite these worrying signs, there are also window of opportunities to increase the voice and space for civil society. The new “Strategy on Development Cooperation and Partnership 2014- 2018” promises to increase the representation of national stakeholders and strengthen mutual understanding and trust between civil society and state actors. It remains to be seen how these commitments work out in practice.
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Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC) has contributed to the upcoming 2011 Reality of Aid Country Monitoring Report which seeks to gather evidence of the Paris Declaration (PD) and Accra Agenda for Action (AAA) implementation at the country-level from a CSO perspective.This report will be out sometime in October 2011.
Many challenges remain
Posted: December 30, 2010
Siem Reap – 75 NGO and sub-national government representatives from seven provinces and Phnom Penh gathered in Siem Reap on the 30th of November 2010 to discuss and review the implementation of the Paris Declaration Principles (PD), the Accra Agenda for Action (AAA) and reflect on the newly endorsed Istanbul CSO Principles for Development Effectiveness.
NGOs and government recognised the progress made by all actors in Cambodia towards the implementation of the PD and AAA. This includes clear policies in the formulation of the National Statistic development Plan (NSDP) and a clear national development strategy. There has also been a move towards better alignment of NGOs plans to the NSDP and Millenniums Development Goals (MDGs). NGOs have had increased opportunities to participate in the planning processes and on technical issues related to such sectors as education, health and natural resource management. In the process, the capacity of local government officials and CBOs improved notably.
While much progress has been made, NGOs and government also recognized that many challenges remain. Although capacity of all actors has increased, it is still limited to individual expertise and requires further improvement. Cooperation too is still limited with continuous problems in communication between both CBOs and the government. In addition, financial resources for implementing local plans such as the Commune Development Plans (CDPs) or Commune Investment Programs (CIPs) are still inadequate and so hinder development at the local level. Finally information gaps persist for the government and NGO sector with respect to AAA and the PD processes and their implications for improving aid and development effectiveness. Henceforth, insufficient linkages exist between national priorities and local grassroots initiatives hindering collective efforts to improve national sustainable development.
The National Platform is currently being organized by CCC
Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC)
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