Participants from around 40 local and international NGOs met May 25 to discuss how
local NGOs can become more self-reliant and efficient. The idea was to share the
experiences of members which had successfully made the transition to autonomy.
Kong Sarom is the executive director of children's NGO Bandos Komar, which grew fromthe
French NGO Partage. He said the movement towards autonomy was something overseas
NGOs were keen to see expanded.
"We are Khmers, so we understand our people's problems better than outsiders,"
he said. Sarom acknowledged that Cambodians generally trusted foreigners more than
fellow Khmers, but felt that attitude would change as more local NGOs showed they
were capable of meeting the same high standards.
Attendees said building capacity was key to a successful handover, and emphasised
the importance of maintaining management skills in finance, program preparation and
fundraising. Local NGOs should also ensure their leaders were skillful at managing
staff, and were transparent and accountable.
The trend towards handing control to more local NGOs began in the mid-1990s. Cambodia
now has more than 1,000 local NGOs. The issue of accountability has become vital.