Helping marginalized groups raise their collective voice in Cambodia

November 7, 2013

A decade ago, the Bungong people, a forest-dependent tribe in eastern Cambodia, lived in relative isolation. Few roads cut through the hilly terrain near the Vietnamese border that they called home.

Today, highways connect Bungong villages to the capital, Phnom Penh, and commercial logging has moved into these once pristine areas, forever changing the Bungong traditional way of life.

In 2012, Pact rolled out a project in eight districts across four provinces, including areas where the Bungong live, to train community-based organizations on effective grassroots involvement in local government, including planning and budgeting, accessing public information, and more.

Called Promoting Citizen Engagement in Democratic Development, or PROCEED, the project is being implemented with a grant from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

By strengthening the voice of local people, Pact seeks to empower the Bungong and other Cambodians to participate in local government decision-making and to make local government more responsive to the needs of local people.

Pact strengthens the ability of Cambodian NGOs to coach and mentor grassroots leaders, local journalists, and other local actors to promote citizen involvement in sub-national governance.  And, after nine months of project implementation, local leaders from both civil society and government are stating that there is a productive dialogue resulting in improved public services for the poor and marginalized.

The intention is that through such capacity building, the Bungong and other poor and marginalized Cambodians will be able to more effectively raise their concerns about issues that affect them.