The Ministry of Rural Development has instructed local authorities to gather and analyse data and report statistics pertaining to the demarcation of rural areas in preparation for drafting the 2021-2030 national rural development policy.

The ministry held a workshop in Stung Treng province on February 8 to examine the progress and quality of the ongoing work and reports of conditions in rural areas.

Workshop participants included delegates from the ministry, heads of provincial rural development departments, deputy and district governors and commune chiefs from five provinces. They also consulted over objectives and indicators relevant to the draft policy.

Ministry secretary of state Sok Saravuth told The Post on February 11 after attending the meeting that in order to complete collection and analysis of the data, local authorities must be informed of their responsibilities and procedures required for the task.

The government seeks to use the data and reports to draft a rural development policy which promotes the wellbeing of rural communities, incorporating principles of sustainability, safety, social order and comfort, obedience of the law and a moral basis of social justice to raise residents’ living standards.

“As Cambodia develops, it is necessary to create rural prosperity with harmony, equality, inclusiveness and sustainability as pillars. These principles are of indispensable importance to ensuring Cambodian rural prosperity,” Saravuth said.

He expected that the cooperation of local authorities to collect the necessary data would enable the drafting of an effective policy that can be sustainably implemented over the coming decade.

Stung Treng provincial rural development department director Prum Chantha said his province had carried out multiple activities to enhance government policy.

“All of this work is intended to advance rural development and address the needs of the local people in rural areas, implementing policy in line with the ministry’s strategic plan,” he said.

Affiliated Network for Social Accountability executive director San Chey told The Post that rural development is an issue which requires participation across sectors to solve many complex problems. Additionally, the government will need to distinguish between two types of rural areas.

He elaborated that this means rural areas near towns are to be separated from remote areas for purposes of development considerations including issues of infrastructure for clean water, health and sanitation and time scales for such projects.

“When working for a common goal, it’s important that there is better coordination across sectors. In the past, we’ve heard certain ministries worked less consistently when partnering together,” he said.

Chey added that some problems in the countryside need accountability from project partners to solve joint challenges. They should take responsibility for each other for the benefit of vulnerable groups and groups most in need.