Set up in 2005, the Children and Women Development Center in Cambodia (CWDCC) is a local non-governmental organization located in Kampot Province, one of the coastal provinces in Cambodia. CWDCC’s main approach is to empower communities to work together to improve the overall well-being of their people, focusing primarily on women and children.
In 2019, the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC), a Global Standard’s partner, announced a call for the selection of 10 CSO applicants to strengthen CSO’s capacities in line with the Global Standard for CSO Accountability’s 12 commitments. One of the CSO selected was the CWDCC, that had recently become the chair of a provincial network. In such capacity, CWDCC would be able to share more broadly any lessons learned from the CCC-led capacity building program among its network members.
Through a capacity building’s program, CCC had invited a group of resources persons to build the internal policies of the CSO applicants, such as on personnel policy, conflict of interest policy, child protection policy, financial management policy, grievance-redress policy and M&E framework. This, in turn helped CSOs develop a stronger complaint handling mechanism to be used by the communities with whom they work.
CWDCC has recently implemented a number of projects by putting projects’ primary constituents at the center of its work. Among others, CWDCC projects placing people in the driver seat involved: 1) Empowerment of young women through participation in decision making and accountability of public service delivery; 2) securing access to and control over land and natural resources for vulnerable fishing communities from the coastal areas of the country; 3) community-based ecotourism; and gender approaches to climate change. CWDCC’s main projects’ participants are women, children, internally displaced persons, marginalized communities in the coastal areas, and youth. Projects are driven by the community people who received training and technical assistance from CWDCC.
CWDCC approach is based upon the engagement of their primary constituents along the project cycle, that is, from the design through the implementation phase. Community members participating in CWDCC capacity building program are introduced to evidence-based advocacy approaches by learning how to conduct research and use data collection tools, to consolidate and analyze the community inputs collected, and to share the findings with the local authorities so their priorities and needs get addressed. After the training, with support from CWDCC, project participants meet with the community members and seek inputs concerning their needs and priorities. This has helped promote a more meaningful engagement between communities and local government authorities in order to pay attention to local problems.
Ms. Chan Kanha, a committee member of Women Champion Network (WCN) noted that “During the Covid-19 pandemic, we have discovered that the number of cases on domestic violence has increased in our community; most of them initiated by people who had temporarily returned to their hometown since they lost their jobs in the cities. So, we have raised this issue with the local authorities, and they have showed their appreciation to our findings and promised to provide additional budget resources in the next semester. During this effort, CWDCC has acted as an advisor to our team and was very responsive to us whenever we sought advice or requested guidance.”
In conclusion, by participating in CCC’s institutional capacity development program and learning about the commitments of the Global Standard for CSO Accountability, CWDCC has been able to strengthen its own organizational procedures while also serving more effectively the people targeted by the projects implemented.