Source : Khmer Times / Thursday, 14 July 2016 by Tin Sokhavuth
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is launching a new project aimed at strengthening civil society and grassroots networks in the country, according to statement from the US Embassy yesterday.
The statement said the Cambodian Civil Society Strengthening project would be funded for five years with a budget of $9 million to help improve civil society’s management structures, communication and operation procedures and human resources management.
The CCSS will also offer small grants to solve land disputes, help victims of gender-based violence and support the protection of the Kingdom’s natural resources.
It will also provide funding for a wide array of research projects including public opinion polls and social economic assessments to help civil society better deliver its services, according to the statement.
“We hope that this project will help Cambodia’s civil society to be even more effective in shaping a constructive and respectful conversation about laws and policies that affect the lives of ordinary Cambodians,” said Charge d’Affaires of the embassy Julie Chung.
The statement says the CCSS project aims to help civil society promote national and local governmental accountability, help solve developmental challenges and promote sustainable civil society.
Several civil society groups have faced a string of thinly veiled government attacks in recent months.
Four Adhoc officials were arrested and charged with bribing a witness in May in a case many believe was politically motivated and connected to an alleged sex scandal involving acting opposition leader Kem Sokha.
Earlier this month a court found three Mother Nature environmental activists guilty of threatening to destroy property while protesting against a sand dredging operation in Koh Kong province last year, in a trial widely derided as a farce.
Rather than give the $9 million directly to civil society groups, the funding will be given to the East West Management Institute to organize workshops and training classes.
USAID was created by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 to help reduce extreme global poverty and to enable and strengthen democratic societies around the world.
Since its inception, USAID has invested about $1 billion toward Cambodia’s development.