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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khmer NGOs join forces in reconstruction push

Khmer NGOs join forces in reconstruction push

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

aid workers.

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

    women's rights,

  • 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.

"What we

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,"

he said.



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