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Partnerships in Decentralization Program


January 2003 - July 2006


GTZ, Unicef, VBNK, International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity (CIDSE), SEILA, Ockenden International, Concern, Diakonia, Commune Council Support Programme (CCSP), UNDP, JICA, World Bank


A participant at a National Forum on Decentralization

Since mid 2003, the Partnerships in Decentralization Program has worked to promote political decentralization in Cambodia in collaboration with civil society organizations, the private sector and government stakeholders. 

In February of 2002, 1,621 newly elected commune councils were created, beginning the shift of national governance from a centrally-dominated structure to a more diffused and decentralized system.

The advent of decentralization promised increased involvement by Cambodian citizens and NGOs in decisions about local issues. However, a large percentage of commune councils lack an understanding of their roles and require the skills to implement their charge and maximize their effectiveness.  In support of decentralization, many NGOs have conducted skills training and assisted commune councils to develop their management systems and decision making processes. However, this capacity building assistance often lacks a coherent approach. Pact supports NGOs in developing their ability to effectively assist commune councils to gain a consistent skills base and move toward more effective operations.

The Partnerships in Decentralization Program currently facilitates three working groups that are comprised of a wide range of civil society and government stakeholders:


To contribute to strengthening decentralization and democratic local governance by promoting partnerships among decentralization stakeholders at all levels.


  • Promote principles of good governance at the local level, such as participation, accountability and transparency.

  • Advocate on issues relating to civil society involvement in decentralization processes

  • Periodically bring together a range of stakeholder groups to discuss key decentralization issues

  • Provide feedback on government policies and activities to national level government

  • Develop, field test, and evaluate capacity building interventions in decentralization to promote active relationships between civil society, community-based organizations and commune councils

  • Document and disseminate good partnership models and practices to a range of stakeholders at all levels

Achievements to Date

  • Partnership Workshop in January 2003 - The Partnerships in Decentralization Program was officially launched with a workshop that brought together commune council members and civil society organizations from communes throughout the country to explore the value of partnerships and enhance skills in the development of partnerships.

  • Working Groups - Working Groups have become recognized as a valued arena within which decentralization stakeholders can share successes and challenges in their efforts to support localized governance. The membership of the decentralization Working Groups has increased dramatically as has the commitment of participants to develop and sustain collaborative working partnerships.

  • Decentralization Forums - The inaugural National Decentralization Forum held in June 2004 launched what has become a series of issue-focused, twice-yearly forums.  Between 150 and 200 decentralization stakeholders have attended each of the forums on decentralization and natural resource management (January 2005) and gender (September 2005).  A forum on decentralization and governance is planned for June 2006.

  • Key Publications - In early 2005, the Partnerships in Decentralization Program published “Commune Council and Civil Society: Promoting Decentralization through Partnership” – a research report on the current work of and challenges faced by commune councils in Cambodia, and the relationships between commune councils and civil society at a local level.   Later that year, a companion piece to this report was produced in English and Khmer - the “Partnership Handbook: A Practical Guide to Promoting Partnership in Cambodia” - and circulated to all commune councils.


Please see the Publications page.


Address: Phnom Penh Centre Building A 3rd floor, Cnr. Sihanouk & Sothearos Blvd or PO Box 149, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Phone: (855)-23-217-855  Fax: (855)-23-217-856
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