The Cambodia Disabled People's Organization (CDPO), an NGO representing disabled
people throughout the country, has confirmed it has suspended normal operations after
donors withdrew funding following allegations of mismanagement and internal conflict.
A reform committee was established May 21 to replace the previous board, after the
NGO's advisory committee recommended it resign. The reform committee consists of
seven members, one of whom was a previous board member, and will steer the organization
until its general assembly in October.
Ouk Sisovann, director of the Disability Action Council (DAC), which works with disability
NGOs and government, said conflict between the executive and policy-making bodies
led to CDPO's nine member board being disbanded.
"The central committee [board] didn't have enough capacity to govern,"
he said, alleging mismanagement. "We recommended that the board resign."
Warwick Fleming, a volunteer business advisor to CDPO, said when he started work
in March, all the programs had shut down due to a lack of funding.
"We are winding back up again now," he said. "It is not a matter of
corruption. What we were doing, the donors simply didn't want to know about."
An internal assessment conducted two months ago with the help of Handicap International,
a donor to CDPO, found problems including no clear lines of authority and financial
systems that required urgent revision.
The NGO's other donors include Action on Disability and Development, and the Cambodia
Trust. Fleming said that CDPO, established eight years ago, has been "so successful
it hasn't had to change. It is an old style organization."
Fleming said there was substantial community support for CDPO, and felt donors would
seriously consider re-funding the charity once they received specific funding proposals.
By the time of the October meeting, he said, CDPO would be fully operational and
would be "bigger, bolder, better and brighter".
The deputy director of Handicap International, Suon Sopha, said his organization
was keen to continue its support.
"We need CDPO to be clear and transparent because it has an internal management
problem," he said. "A number of funders [weren't happy with] the financial
and operational managers, but we are waiting for the results of the reform committee."
However DAC's Sisovann said it would be very difficult for the CDPO to ever resume
"I'm really afraid. We don't have the appropriate funds. I don't think it is
going to work."