How 10 NGOs advanced their own accountability in Cambodia

By November 29, 2021 CSO Standard, NMedia

Chea Vibol, Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC)

November 21, 2021

During the previous year, in 2020, ten civil society organizations participated in a project implemented by the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC), as part of a sub-grant aimed at enhancing the accountability practices related to the 12 commitments of the Global Standard for CSO Accountability.

This year, in 2021, CCC benefited from another sub-grant from the Global Standard to implement the second phase of this accountability project. Implemented between January and December 2021, this second phase involved nine local NGOs and one international NGO in Cambodia. The participating NGOs were: Youth for Peace (YFP), Anakut Kumar (AK), Caring for Young Khmer (CYK), Environment Protection and Development Organization (EPDO), Phnom Neang Kongrei Association (PNKA), Operations Enfants Du Cambodge (OEC), Help the Old Age and Most Vulnerable Organization (HOM), AMARA and Cooperation For Alleviation of Poverty (COFAP). While two of them have their offices located in Phnom Penh, the remaining eight ones are located in various provinces.  Further, one of the NGOs works with youth to promote solidarity and peace building by learning from the recent past and promoting better opportunities for the future, while several organizations implement projects targeted to community people working on agriculture, protecting their livelihoods, and promoting food security.

After conducting a NGO capacity assessment and a review of their key related documents, as well as  conversations with representatives of each of the ten organizations, a series of capacity development activities were designed by CCC, including on the  development of strong policies and the set-up of a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system, so the ten organizations have their systems and practices aligned with the 3 clusters and 12 commitments of the Global Standard.

A few positive changes in regards to the work undertaken by the NGOs can be so far reported. Staff participation in developing or updating specific policies, such as policies on human resources aimed at promoting an equal and fair treatment to everyone, has increased. At the same time, prevention of internal conflict of interests has also been reported. Further, expanding staff engagement in the development of the organizations’ strategic plans has also been noted. Both actions have contributed to staff’s own greater knowledge of the organizational strategies and policies which is, in turn, expected to contribute to staff enhanced abiding with such policies and strategies.

In addition, the roles and responsibilities of the Board of Directors (BoD) of the NGOs have been defined more clearly. In some cases, BoD requested the executive director to formulate the annual work plan and signed the agreed plan from the beginning of the year. Then, this plan has become the instrument against which to measure the performance of the executive director. Further, quarterly BoD meetings have been regularly conducted to review progress made. In this way, in sync with the Global Standard’s commitment, the NGO leadership has become more responsible.

This kind of accountability practices are crucial to show that the benefits are oriented towards the groups or communities targeted by the projects implemented by NGOs. By doing so, trust between NGOs and external stakeholders will be enhanced.

While, as mentioned above, there have been several improvements in terms of accountability practices by the ten NGOs, there are some challenges which must be addressed moving forward:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic prevented in-person gatherings, and the virtual connection remains unequal across organizations due to internet connection and other constraints;
  • NGOs have showed commitment to adopt accountability practices within their organizations; however, they have limited resources to implement changes and many of them need to rely on external technical assistance for it.

Among the lessons learned from the implementation of the project to date, the following two ones are worth highlighting:

  • It is crucial to collect/ generate evidence which can back up the implementation of the accountability practices adopted by NGOs and any improvements towards the fulfilment of the commitments of the Global Standard. For this, having an M&E system in place is key.
  • The NGOs which are able to implement accountability practices are in a better position to develop sustainability by nurturing relationships with various stakeholders groups which can lead to trust-building in the long term.

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