Local Administration and Reform Program
October 2005 –
process commenced in 2001 with the enactment of laws on commune
administration, management and elections. With the commune council
elections in February 2002, Cambodia took a bold step towards
deepening democracy; 1,621 councils were elected, resulting in
11,261 councilors taking office and assuming responsibilities for
local governance and local development.
Since the elections, the Royal
Government of Cambodia (RGC), in partnership with both the donor
community and civil society, has made substantial progress in
pursuing democratic local governance through decentralization and
deconcentration (D&D) reform, providing the Cambodian people with
greater opportunities to influence the decisions that affect their
There continues to be a need for
increased citizen participation in council activities, especially in
commune planning and decision making, for the development of
additional transparency and accountability mechanisms in line with
the RGC’s rectangular strategy. As well as a need for commune
councils to develop effective partnership in order to tackle
difficult and complex community issues. Inadequate budgetary
resources, limited staff capacity, and lack of decision making
authority remain major challenges.
The Local Administration and
Reform Program (LAAR) is taking a multi-dimensional approach to
addressing these needs. It is designed to build on and enhance
existing programs in decentralization, with attention to good
governance, under-represented populations and natural resource
management (NRM) woven throughout.
participatory democratic practices within local (referred to as
sub-national) government and activate sustainable links between
commune councils, civil society, and national level government that
positively impact D&D reform.
sustainable horizontal and vertical links between citizens,
local government and national government (increase demand for
good governance at a local level).
public participation in the commune investment planning (CIP)
and D&D reform processes (improve policy dealing with D&D to
create an enabling environment).
institutionalize participatory development processes and
democratic practices within sub-national government (improve
supply of good governance by commune councils).
Building and Support -
LAAR delivers an intensive capacity building program for both
civil society organizations and commune councils focused on 1)
increasing public participation and decision-making in council
affairs and 2) improving transparent and accountable management
of council funds. This training curriculum is delivered by
provincial NGO (PNGO) partners and other civil society partners,
who are also responsible for ongoing coaching and mentoring of
training participants to help them reach program objectives.
Civil society organizations, in collaboration with Commune
Councils and government facilitation teams develop joint action
plans to encourage the practical application of skills acquired.
Development Funds - The LAAR program provides Social
Development Funds (SDF) in the form of grants as an incentive
for councils to incorporate socially-focused investments into
commune planning. Each targeted commune has access to
US$3-5,000 for up to three consecutive years. Funded priorities
must be identified through the government-established CIP
process and follow the existing government bidding process for
procurement of services. Matching funds are required from
communes to increase ownership and sustainability of the
Support - The LAAR program offered one-time grants of up to
US$5,000 to innovative commune councils, local NGOs, CBOs and
village networks to support projects that aim to increase
citizen involvement and that focus on cross-cutting issues of
good governance, under-represented groups and NRM. Civil society
initiatives had to demonstrate strong partnership links to
commune councils to be eligible for funds.
Transparency and Accountability - The Program increases
transparency and accountability at the sub-national level by
employing a governance self assessment called the Commune
Action and Effectiveness Process (CAEP) which engages citizens
in the assessment of council performance. The outputs of these
two tools will result in a public annual performance improvement
plan for each commune. Additionally, LAAR conducts external spot
audits of commune councils to foster an environment of open
- LAAR is also implementing an integrated media strategy to
raise awareness around partnership best practices, citizen
participation in commune activities; citizen and council rights,
and D&D policy initiatives.
Dialogue and Awareness - The LAAR
program supports mechanisms to increase the flow of information
between government and civil society and works to strengthen
civil society and commune council networks, increasing their
credibility and legitimacy to play a more active role in D&D
reform. These mechanisms include provincial-level thematic
public forums, civil society working group for partnership in
decentralization, inter-commune associations, female councilor
networks, the NGO Liaison Office, community mobilizing
committees and regional decentralization associations.
13 Provincial NGOs
8 provinces, 356 communes with a population of approximately
3,167,357 people (1,544,279 men & 1, 623,253 women) across 3,389
villagers (643,626 families)
3,164 commune council members (2,742 male & 422 female) from 356
3,955 community mobilizing committee members (2,207 male & 1,752
female) from 356 communes