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NGOs examine their role in rural areas at seminar

NGOs examine their role in rural areas at seminar

AROUND 60 participants from 40 local NGOs and community groups met recently in the

capital to discuss their role in promoting civic groups and associations in rural

areas.

The one day meeting, on September 29, was organized by Centre d'Etude et de Développement

Agricole Cambodgien (CEDAC) and supported by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNST).

Khim Sophanna, program officer at FNST and one of the organizers, said that the aim

was to find out the best way for NGOs to play a valuable role in the process and

determine what specific difficulties some had experienced in similar projects.

"Most NGOs in Cambodia do not have clear goals about what they are supposed

to do," he said. "Sometimes they simply copy someone else's project, and

other times their work overlaps."

He added that dialogue was also needed to discuss how best to assist rural associations.

Dr Chhim Phalvorun, director of the Center for Legal Research and Documentation and

who is also a legal advisor to the National Assembly, spoke at the meeting.

He said that the role of NGOs was to act as middlemen between the government and

farmers to help them find markets for their produce and thereby improve their standard

of living.

Phalvorun added that NGOs need to improve the quality of their staff through training

to enable them to best carry out their work.

"NGOs have a duty to show farmers the best way forward, and train them to allow

the farmers to help themselves," he said.

FNST's Sophanna expected that the dialog would improve the quality of the already

good work that NGOs perform to help farmers in Cambodia.

"The dialog is designed on a long-term perspective to improve the work they

do. The changes will not happen overnight," he said. "The first thing is

to improve capacity building among [other NGOs] to upgrade the NGO activities in

rural areas."

He concluded that the overall objective was to create an effective network among

development professionals for solving socio-economic problems.

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