Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rehabilitation trust work gets international recognition

Rehabilitation trust work gets international recognition

Rehabilitation trust work gets international recognition

The Cambodia Trust, which provides rehabilitation and prosthetic limbs for

landmine and polio victims, has become the first Cambodian NGO - and one of the

first NGOs in the world - to gain international accreditation under the ISO

program.

Country director Kathleen Biggs said recent events at local NGOs

highlighted the need for higher standards, something the ISO accreditation

showed the Trust has achieved.

"It was exhausting and very difficult,

but we can now guarantee that our patients will get the same quality standard

across all clinics," said Biggs. "We are constantly looking at empowering staff

- the more they are empowered, the better the service they'll give."

The

standard that the Trust achieved in its tenth year in Cambodia was for

management. Known as 9001:2000, the standard focuses on two principles: customer

focus and continual improvement. It is part of the NGO's bid to make the

Cambodian operation locally run.

In the past, said Biggs, many

organizations pulled out leaving local people in management positions for which

they had not been properly trained, and without the proper structures and

empowerment of staff.

"I've seen staff in some Cambodian organizations

accept conditions that I felt were abusive because they were too frightened to

do anything about it," said Biggs. "When I came to the Trust the staff were

empowered and we've been increasing that ever since."

Part of the NGO's

approach was to flatten the traditionally vertical management structure. Without

that, said Biggs, staff would not have been able to participate fully in making

decisions.

"We would not have got the ISO accreditation unless every

single member of our staff was involved," she said. And no less important, she

believes donors will now demand a culture of good governance. The ISO standard

would also help the Trust when it came to raising more funds.

"We always

knew we were good, but now we can prove it - somebody from outside has come in

and said, 'Yes, you are good'," she said, adding that other NGOs would likely

embark on similar efforts to improve quality.

That has been recognized at

the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC), which had substantial problems in the

late 1990s. John Gabriel Masson, CMAC's quality assurance advisor, said the

organization was looking to match, rather than be awarded, the ISO

standard.

"We are benchmarking our internal practices against ISO and

sent a Cambodian staff member to Singapore last month to train as an auditor for

ISO 9000," said Masson.

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