First Quarterly Member Meeting – 2021

On February 18, 2021, the NGO Forum on Cambodia (NGOF) held its first quarterly member meeting in 2021 at the Christian Unity Ministry Center in Phnom Penh with a total of 112 participants (37 women). The purposes of this meeting updated on NGOF’s progress report, achievements 2020 and Action Plan for Cooperation 2021 for Indigenous Development and Conservation, Sharing the information about Agri-innovation Fund (AIF); and updated on the process of amending the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations (LANGO).

Welcoming Remarks,Mr. Norng Sivouthan, Member of Management Committee of NGOF and Country Director of HEKS

As you know NGOF has 6-year strategic planning and a mid-strategic plan review has been made by independent consultants. The evaluation report has found key issues and made necessary reforms for the next 3 years from 2021 till 2023. NGOF will focus on 3 programs – the first program is Natural Resource Governance which is one of the core programs; the second program is Partnership for Sustainable Growth, and the third is Socio-Economic Equity in Development. These reforms are based on the mid-term evaluation findings as well as the consultation with most of everyone who are network members, and secretariats. The new adjustment was made from the term “network” into “working group” consisting of 12 technical working groups including secretariat and 350 NGO members (national and international) based on consultation, inputs from the member as well as the situation of social context. The main purpose of the reform is to achieve the next 3-year strategic plans. I think that we need time to discuss among the working groups to understand and manage these changes positively. NGOF should continue deeper discussion among network members on new changes we all have to cope with. We need to change approaches or strategies of working based on the new changes which require each member to think and work together following the joint plans we made. We try to work together to challenge the issue and find solutions.

Dr. Tek Vannara, Executive Director of the NGO Forum on Cambodia, updated on quarterly progress report of the NGO Forum on Cambodia. As the result from annual reflection, we started to implement the second phase of the next 3-year strategic plan to achieve the 6-year strategic plans from January 2021 onward. We have revised programs name from network to working group, so the previous programs such as land and forestry program update to Natural Resource Governance; environment and agriculture program changed to Partnership for Sustainable Growth; national development program transform to Socio-Economic Equity in Development. The12 working groups will help the provincial network to engage with debates, dialogues, negotiation, and consultation on policies, and strengthening CSOs at the sub-national level which are new directions of NGOF based on evaluation findings. We moved our strategy to the provincial level in order to have flows of resources, technical, and capacity building to reach the provincial level.

We have conducted an outreach lunching format of Indigenous People by-laws and internal rule for the list of collective community land for indigenous people in Cambodia which is a model for indigenous people of their community lands through the guiding of the model which officially recognized by relevant Ministries and Ministry of Rural Development. Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Lands and Urbanization, and Ministry of Culture and Arts.

We had a discussion about CSDG on the future of the Mekong river zone with lower Mekong 2, Mekong River Commission, Mekong Lang Chhang Forum, Inter banks especially the role of CSOs. After the discussion, the World Bank has issued a strategy to engage CSOs in a broader space in the discussion, participation, and decision-making on the water governance of Mekong River.

We organized the the13th national conference on Lands Rights and Natural Resources. The participants brought the results from their regions to combine with a national level which they found to present to the government. The government has accepted and considered those inputs and translated them into key government policies.

We released and reported the dialogue on analysis of landscape policy reviews on Non Communicable Disease (NCD) with HACC, Oxfam, and other NGOs. From the research findings which NGOF and other NGOs working in the field of health, the Ministry of Health has recognized the importance of findings and transform it toobesity policy.

We involved in consultation on draft bank EIA especially for the bank in the context of Cambodia. For the international banks, the World Bank, and some inter-banks before they operate or investthey already have those policies especially environmental and social safeguard. Whereas, the bank in Cambodia, some of them do not have EIA yet. If a bank wants to borrow 10 million for the development,of 300 hectares of land, they do not have any report on environmental, social impact, and impact on the vulnerable.

Mr. Lak Youssey, Technical Advisor – GIZ, sharing the Information about Agrinnovation Fund (AIF)

I would to present about Agri-innovation in ASEAN Fund. The fund was initiated to promote cooperation and partnership between the state sector and the private sector. The mission of AIF, to support innovation of value chains to follow standards of quality and sustainability in ASEAN. Before sharing about AIF, I’d like to show a bit about the relationship between this fund with other ASEAN projects. The AIF is only a tool for ASEAN Agri-Trade. We encourage how to follow the quality and sustainability standards in South East Asia. The goal of this AIF is to support the implementation as well as other solutions with creativity in promoting agriculture value chains. For this fund, we implement it in 4 countries – Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar. In Cambodia, we provide capital for the private sector in the amount of 10,000 Eros. Recently, we discussed with some partners and we received a response from Khmer entrepreneurs working in the field of the private sector. The Khmer entrepreneurs are interested and willing to participate in private sector development to implement agriculture value chains. They will equally contribute the same amount of budget. The capital is offered to implement the innovative idea. In order to receive 20,000 or 40,000 USD or ERO required partial contribution such as in-kinds, time, and machine, if one project needsa fund of 20.000 USD, we can provide a grant from 6 to 10 projects.

Mr. Soth Soeung, Director of Department of Ethnic Minority Development of the Ministry of Rural Development, shared the achievements 2020 and Action Plan for Cooperation 2021 for Indigenous Development and Conservation.

We have been working together for more than 20 years, therefore, we always have participation from most of everyone here. I would like to present the work of the Department of Ethnic Minority Development of the ministry of rural development. As you have known we implement our plan every year. Due to the lockdown, 2020, the ministry could not implement any activities. However, we have prepared a plan for 2021. I want to draw attention to the goal and target provinces where indigenous people living remotely with a small population. We want to conserve them so that they could not integrate or losetheir identity for example there are only 20 families in Kampungsom. We want to help them conserve their custom and tradition to study identity and history, I will go to different provinces to study.

In our past achievements, we worked with UNDP, ILO, and NGOF since 2006 to conduct some workshops and we have contributed to the development of the indigenous people to compile; to assess identity; and offer letter of recognition, up to date, we reached 155 families in Mundul Kiri, Stung Treng, and Rattanak Kiri.

Mr. Ouk Vannara –Deputy Executive Director of NGOF, NGOF and CCC have been working together to facilitate a number of meetings to collect inputs from CSOs to amend the law. The participating organizations include Comfrel, PDP, CRC Alliance, and others representing 500 member organizations. We met with MoI to request for amendment of LANGO law on article 14 and article 12. We suggested to completely omit two articles because they have difficulty in explaining and confusion from the authority in the interpretation of the law which continues to obstruct the process of CSOs’ activity implementation. Therefore, we request to delete those two articles. Overall, 14 articles requested to make the amendment. Mr. Ry Sovanna will present a summary of the meeting results.

Mr. Ry Sovanna – Policy, Legal and Advocacy (PLA) Manager of CCC, he updated on the process of consultations of the amendment of the law on NGOs (LANGO). What progress? Next plans which CSOs have to do to advocate on the amendment of law on LANGO successfully?

I want to talk a little lit about LANGO. LANGO was announced by the Constitutional Council and was officially effective since 2005. The law cover associations and NGOs that operate in the Kingdom of Cambodia – both domestic and foreign associations and NGOs, but this law does not cover CBOs and this LANGO consists of 9 chapters and 39 articles. The purpose of this law is to ensure and protect the rights to the establishment of associations through the CSO mechanism and to promote operations in partnership between the Royal Government of Cambodia and NGOs. But this law causes some negative effects on CSOs. The LANGO has a limited capacity of NGOs’ operation in advocacy for human rights, transparency, and accountability, and this law also affects democratic process in Cambodia. Therefore, CSOs understand that some articles in the law have to be amended to strengthen people’s power in response in the establishment of associations; in participation in economic activity, culture, and people’s organizations to protect national achievements and public order.

500 NGOs/CSOs have applied to join consultations of the amendment of LANGO including CCC, NGOF, Comfrel, PDP, YRDP, NEP to name a few. They proposed to the working group in charge of settling the requests and suggestions of the MoI for amendment of LANGO. We met with the working group of the government 6 times and at the last meeting, we released a joint statement between the MoI working group with NGOs and NGOs who signed the joint statement representing more than 500 institutions. 14 articles we have been requested for amendment. The requested articles for amendment include article 1, 2, 8, 9,10, 11, 20, 24, 25, 26, 30, 31, 32, and 35.

My presentation will elaborate on the technical aspect of the law. The process of gathering inputs for amendment on LANGO over 14 articles cover 6 main aspects:

Mr. Mar Sophal, Program Manager of NGOF, presented on the discussion of Collecting Inputs on CSDGs Indicators Revisiting. Who has never heard about CSDG? Taking this opportunity, I created a channel named CSDG… with a yellow logo. Actually, we raised the agenda this time is for related (inter) ministries to present, but they could not come due to overlapping programs. Tomorrow they will review CSDG indicators 2016 – 2030 and I will not go into detail on what is CSDG, In regard to CSDG, we have prepared progress reports in 2016. The reports found that some indicators do have data for measuring which we have to revisit. These are only figures on the reports compared with the indicators set. They found that up to 20% of indicators had no data for measurement. Therefore, the government planned to review but they already did once in the middle of last year and they continue to do it again. Tomorrow, they will discuss among inter-ministries and call for CSOs to provide comments and inputs. NGOF, CCC, and other two NGOs – CDRI and ODC will be participating in the meeting tomorrow. This is a good opportunity in which I can bring inputs, comments, and recommendations especially pertaining to indicators that you have been experiencing at your field work. If you see the indicators which are missing or need to make changes or improve, it is a good chance for you to contribute to monitoring, and following up on the implementation of CSDG. We welcome all ideas and comments. Here I put a link you can click or scan. Below you can see the questions. What indicators are lacking of information or data? Are there any new indicators to add? Regarding the time, I will be waiting for your comments till tomorrow. You can show your identity or organizational names.

Wrap up and the Closing remark of Chairman of the Meeting by Mr. Norng Sivouthan, Member of Management Committee of NGOF and Country Director of HEKS

We have finished the meeting agenda as planned with small changes and over-time due to speakers’ time and presence. Our speaker from the government was left before the Q & A session. I think that it is a lesson learned we should manage time to keep them stay longer for question and answer forum. However, we achieved the results as expected. I think that NGOF will prepare a minute of the meeting of what we discussed and probably the next meeting will be updated and especially we will bring those points to continue working with NGOF members. Finally, I would like to thank you for your participation particularly your patience, and stay till the end of the meeting. Wishing everyone happiness, and success, Special thanks to all NGOF staff for organizing this meeting I would like to close our meeting. Thank you.