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NGOs: Developments and challenges


The Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations has been under fire from civil society.

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Prime Minister Hun Sen said in late December 2011 that the government decided to wait until 2014 for the creation of that law: “The government has to pay attention to all the NGO’s activities and deems those NGOs as a crucially important part of the country’s development.”

According?? to an article published by the Post on August 29, 2011, Ek Tha, a spokesman and deputy director of the press unit at the Council of Ministers, the Kingdom had become a “safe haven” for 3,000 NGOs and associations.

Those NGOs are working on various issues ranging from health, education and infrastructure to environmental protection and governance, registered with the Ministry of Interior.

NGOs play a key role in greatly contributing to the betterment of the Kingdom since they have been working in the deprived and challenged communities of remote areas in the provinces.  

However, some NGOs still encounter challenges; some even fail.

Uch Samneang, community facilitator of Caritas Cambodia in Kandal provincial Lvea Em district, said that youth participation in the community is limited.

“Most youth are busy with their farming and earning for a living. They don’t value the engagement and they don’t pay much attention to participation. For example, they always deny joining the workshop [saying] they are busy with their work,” he said.

Mam Sambath, executive director of Development and Partnership in Action, said that his NGO faces the problem of waiting for permission from the provincial authorities when his team plans for a program or project in the community.

He told LIFT reporters that a “request for permission takes time and we do not know for sure that the [authorities] will permit for the activity or not”.

However, Mam Sambath said that the situation is a lot better since there has been good co-operation from the local level and provincial department. He added that recently Prime Minister Hun Sen has called for the provincial authorities to co-operate well with NGOs and facilitate their work.

“There is a good participation from the community and youth like in the ethnic area where there is rare migration. We have community youth and youth group to help work,” he said.

Youth Resource Development Program states that its vision is to encourage young Cambodians to develop their social conscience and to take responsibility for their own future and the future of their family, society and country.

Nao Unheng, 20, a volunteer youth at YRDP said that she’s been contributing some activities to rural areas with her team. Recently, she has trained people how to engage with the authorities in Kompong Speu province.

She said, “I have shared with them of how to observe the authority’s work. At the beginning, we didn’t receive support from them because they thought that we were new to them, so we have to be patient. Youth don’t join us much because they leave home for jobs.”

Nao Unheng recommended that young Cambodians invest their time in helping their communities and join hands with the senior generation to tackle problems.

“We should devote our time contributing to rural areas for the improvement. Don’t wait for when you are free, just make [time],” she said.

Cheam Yeap, a Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker, said that the government always protects and supports NGOs when they have clear goal and follow the law.

“We always facilitate the security work and persuade the participation from the community people,” he told LIFT reporters on February 18.

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