K hmer NGOs have linked up in a drive to boost the country's reconstruction and
More than 50 NGOs decided to take the initiative and have
offered to help the Royal Government in its task of rebuilding the nation after
a three-day workshop.
The meeting was sponsored by Ponleu Khmer - a
federation of local NGOs - and attended by government officials and expatriate
Kassie Neou, president of Khmer Institute for Human Rights
said: "We feel that, in principle, the democratic process means participation by
the people in whatever work the government is doing.
"We feel that we
NGOs have a role to contribute to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the
country's economy, especially development."
The workshop encouraged the
exchange of ideas of participants who finally put forward concrete
recommendations for consideration by the Royal government ahead of the
International Conference on Reconstruction of Cambodia in Tokyo next
The NGOs agreed on six major areas of priority. Those
- To work closely with the government to develop policies to prevent
pollution, to preserve national resources and to promote reforestation
- A low-interest credit scheme operated through people's organizations and
vocational training that will be followed by implementation.
- Community development to reduce poverty, to promote health care and skills
in rural areas.
- Education and culture to preserve Cambodia's national heritage and to
provide quality education for all people at all levels, including civic
- Human Rights education with stress on the protection of children's and
- Social issues concerned with the question of promoting stability and
guarantee of social justice.
- The workshop also advocated that the government spend more money on women's
projects as they make up 60 percent of the population.
The workshop also addressed the issue of the millions of land mines as a
major threat to the development taking place in the countryside.
gathering emphasized, apart from the technical problem of removing them, on the
need to change people's attitude about mines to prevent more being
"Mines and security are problems we as Cambodians must take
responsibility for and solve," the NGOs said in a final statement.
message was that donor countries should consider the role of local NGOs and
associations as an effective mechanism for implementing development programs.
The NGOs also said that grants and loans should benefit Cambodians as directly
as possible rather than to create long-term dependency or debt.
Leikper, president of Khemara, described the workshop as a direct dialogue with
the government and a demonstration of local NGOs' commitment to share its
"We have to be realistic about our expectations from the
government, we can not expect it to solve all our problems because its burden is
too heavy," she said.
"We are the bridge between the government and the
people. We are working closely with the grassroots and we know what the people
need," she added.
Kassie Nou said that improving democracy and raising
moral values in society could hardly be accomplished if the people are left
"We have to look into the real situation and the real situation
in Cambodia is that people are needy and hungry and we have got to promote
development together with promoting human rights," he said.
hope to achieve is for the government to recognize the efforts of NGOs in the
community and for the government to realize that not it alone runs the country,"