Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Ownership in Development Program in Cambodia

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

With financial support from the Friedrich-Naumann Stiftung fuer die Freiheit (FNS) organization and in coordination with the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC), the Cambodian Institute for Development Studies (CIDS), has launched a new project called the “Ownership in Development Program”. The program was introduced on June 6 and it aims to promote ownership on the behalf of local stakeholders working on the development process in Cambodia.

According to Dr. Kang Chandararot, CIDS President, this is the first time that such a project has been organized in Cambodia. Its main objective is to encourage the sharing of development experience and insights at different levels of society and among different groups. The program will also identify methods to encourage a sense of ownership and personal responsibility, thus ensuring the fullest development advantage. The program will also provide plenty of opportunity to “brainstorm” new ideas, policies and strategies. Finally, the program will progress with full support from the nation’s media to maximize publicity and encourage transparency.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference held after the launching ceremony, Dr. Chandararot said, “I think that building a sense of ownership in the hearts and minds of local stakeholders is the most effective way to promote responsibility, transparency and accountability in development. Thus, this program will serve as a platform for discussion, analysis and the exchange of information.”

Dr. Chandararot said local involvement is necessary for sustainable development. However, involvement is not limited to the mere physical presence of locals in the development-decision making process. Their knowledge of local conditions will always be of supreme importance and communicating this knowledge forms just one aspect of involvement. He said the feeling of ownership determined the quality of involvement and motivation at community level.

Dr. Yang Saing Kuma, CEDAC President, said that until today, many Cambodians saw no role for themselves in the development-decision making process. Cambodian villagers saw themselves as dependent on foreign aid or government financial assistance, neither view being conducive to a sense of ownership or self determination.

“Now we want to change our peoples’ mindset so that they start thinking in terms of development and responsibility,” he said during his speech. “We think that if we are able to build ownership and promote participation in development, this will strengthen the fortunes of the country.”

Khim Sophannara, FNS Program Manager, said that to support the Ownership in Development Program, his organization will spend US$ 6,000 in support of CIDS per year. The donations are to be spent on transportation, accommodation and training materials.

Ngeth Seng, a Senior Project Development Officer in the Ministry of Rural Development, said the development programs and activities have really helped his ministry and the government to promote the concept of ownership.

“I appreciate and support CIDS’s Ownership in Development Program. I think that this program will certainly help the Royal Government of Cambodia to reduce poverty,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly.



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