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NGOs urge donors to look at aid direction

NGOs urge donors to look at aid direction

MEANWHILE, the NGO Forum on Cambodia issued a statement that pricked at many issues

that the World Bank - a co-host at Tokyo - had told donors were "off limits"

during the July 11-12 meeting.

The Forum said: "... the right to food, education, a livelihood, to security,

to participate in civil society and have a say in the future must be assured. The

needs and aspirations of people should be the primary consideration in all development."

By contrast, the World Bank has insisted the the Toyko meeting was all to do with

Cambodian macro-economic issues.

NGOs urged donors not to put conditions on aid "which only hurt the poor and

the vulnerable", but said donors should make long-term commitments to the Kingdom.

World Bank and IMF-driven initiatives to sack 70,000 soldiers and civil servants

concerned NGOs, who said: "In the absence of an effective social safety net

these people may simply add to the already high number of Cambodians living in poverty."

The Forum said similar reforms had widened the gap between rich and poor in other

countries, and diminished the Government's capabilities to shape its own priorities.

There was also a basic contradiction between what the Government said it wanted (poverty

alleviation and environmental sus-tainability); what the people needed (food, security,

health, land and education); and what the investment program spelled out (civil reform

and infrastructure development).

"The Public Investment Program (PIP) does not reflect an integrated or consistent

approach to achieving... poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability".

Specifically, the Forum urged that the demobilization process be extended, and those

soldiers involved given a chance to decide what they wanted and needed.

The PIP project should be ranked according to the extent to which they reduced poverty

and promoted environmental sus-tainability, it said.

It said all revenue from logging must be traced, accounted for and put into the Treasury.

"In addition, donors should consider creative possibilities to ensure proper

environmental management, such as establishing a trust fund to buy protected areas

or using forests as 'collateral' for soft loans to ensure they are not exploited

for the period of the loan."

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