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Donors cautious in funding Khmer NGOs

Donors cautious in funding Khmer NGOs

LACK of funding, human resources and good management are key barriers to be overcome

by local NGOs, according to participants at a recent workshop.

According to Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC) figures discussed at the workshop,

about 100 Cambodian-run NGOs spend about $2 million-$3 million a year. An equivalent

number of international NGOs spend roughly $240 million a year in Cambodia.

CCC officials stressed the figures were only estimates, as no hard data was available.

NGO officials at the workshop spoke of a lack of qualifications, experience and management

expertise among their staff.

Kien Serey Phal, the president of the Cambodian Women's Development Association (CWDA),

said some NGO projects had failed for such reasons.

"They began work without a plan or with very poor management, and sometimes

they don't know what to do."

Potential donors were being cautious in giving money to local NGOs, she said.

"I think, the donors want to see whether their money is going the right way

or not. They are not just giving money without seeing if [it will have good results]

first."

However, Phal believed some other local NGOs were working well and more effectively

than international NGOs.

About 60 representatives from Cambodian-run NGOs gathered at the Cambodian Communications

Institute in Phnom Penh for the Jan 8-9 workshop. Hosted by the CCC and the NGO Forum,

it was aimed at reviewing their efforts last year and helping them to plan for 1996.

Organizing committee member M.S. Shivakumar said participants noted several major

gains in Cambodia last year, including a more stable economy and a rise in people's

confidence.

Key development issues for this year included concentrating on agricultural projects,

physical infrastructure and human resources development.

"People are resources and they can solve their problems, but we need time and

thoughtful support to achieve this," he said.

The workshop discussed the important contribution of local NGOs to the work done

by their international counterparts. It was suggested that international NGOs tended

to concentrate on issues such as security, landmines, the environment and aid coordination,

while local ones were mainly involved in improving the skills of Cambodians and ensuring

adequate food and safe water.

The workshop noted the growth of Phnom Penh and other urban areas and called for

appropriate rural development policies to stem the urban drift.

Key needs which were identified included education, health, care, rice banks, credit

schemes and vocational training.

Kien Serey Phal said a great deal more needed to be done to help alleviate rural

poverty and suffering, particularly among women and widows, and tackle social problems

such as child trafficking.

Sin Sat, of the Buddhism for Development Association, said improving the education

of rural people was vital. Many people were solely concerned with their stomachs,

and ignored their health care and future needs.

Workshop participants noted the problem of continuing human rights violations, and

expressed concern that government officials were often the culprits.

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