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In the spotlight: NLC/S, Cambodia

In the spotlight: NLC/S, Cambodia
04/09/2014

Cambodia

In the fourth article of our series, where we are looking more closely at key DELGOSEA members who are holding the network together and work behind the scenes in each country, the focus this month is on the Cambodian National League of Communes/Sangkats (NLC/S).

Decentralization of government to the local level is quite a recent development in Cambodia; the process started only in 2001 with the passing of the Law on Commune and Sangkat Administrative Management. The aim of this administrative reform was to promote good governance and to contribute to poverty reduction in the country; the establishment of the Provincial Association of Communes/Sangkats (PAC/S) in 2006, which in 2008 became the National League of Communes/Sangkats (NLC/S) was instrumental in helping the administration on the local level to become organized and work together.

By now, the NLC/S is an umbrella organization representing all 24 provinces, 1621 communes/sangkats and their 11,353 councilors – an impressive number! Keeping in mind that local governance has only been introduced so recently, one of the main aims of the LGA is capacity building of these local councils, helping them to reach a democratic and decentralized administration that is effective, sustainable, transparent and accountable.

However, these are very general concepts, and the NLC/S has been very good in devising concrete and practical measures to support their large membership and to improve the everyday life for Cambodian citizens. The activities focus, for example, on making communities more responsive to the special needs of people in poverty, to women’s and children’s needs and to taking environmental issues into account when planning public services. Capacity building is taken very serious: the League provides and facilitates training programmes for council staff, both on its own and in cooperation with other institutions and local authorities, both from Cambodia and abroad.

Apart from capacity building, the organization is keen on widening its network, both within Cambodia, on the regional ASEAN level and even with international organizations worldwide. Amongst its member Sangkats the NLC/S promotes a culture of collaboration, learning and sharing amongst the different communes, also supporting female participation in local governance. The League is also increasingly become involved in regional and international activities, with one of their objectives being to establish linkages and cooperation with LGAs outside Cambodia – being part of the DELGOSEA project fits perfectly with this agenda. NLC/S is already cooperating with numerous international donors, such as the European Commission, the UN, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) or the International Co-operation Agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG International). Since 2007, the League has also been a member of United Cities and Local Government Asia Pacific (UCLG-ASPAC) in Southeast Asia.

Some recent activities that illustrate perfectly these aims of the NLC/S include a series of workshops on women in local politics with more than 240 locally elected female councillors participating at the three events. This programme was designed to survey and evaluate the experiences of female councillors and the challenges they faced in their roles. Capacity strengthening of the local administration for local economic development in Battambang Province, is another good example of the way, the League is concentrating on the most pressing issues for its membership.

Within DELGOSEA, the NLC/S has always played an important role – in the network’s first phase as the official project partner in Cambodia, providing both best practice and pilot cities, later on as a key member in DELGOSEA’s internal decision-making structure. The recent decision to also concentrate on the collection and documentation of best practices means that the rest of the network can look forward to learning from the experiences League Members have made with the decentralisation process.

To find out more about the NCL/S and Cambodia's role in the network on www.delgosea.eu:

DELGOSEA LGA Profile: NLC/S

Focusing on policy recommendations in Cambodia

Progress in Cambodia on Best Practice Exchange