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
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
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
He concluded that the overall objective was to create an effective network among
development professionals for solving socio-economic problems.