$7.8 Million Grant to Support for Cambodia’s New Tier of Local Government

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – A US$7.8 million grant from ADB’s Asian Development Fund will help improve governance in Cambodia by providing further support for the development of a local tier of government.

The project will enable more commune councils – the lowest level of elected sub– national administration created as part of a decentralization process begun in 2001 – to operate more effectively. While this level of sub-national administration is expected to take on an increasing level of responsibility, serious capacity constraints persist for most of the country’s 1,621 commune councils.

The project will also develop the national civil registration system and aims to strengthen voter understanding of democratic rights and accountabilities.

“The decentralization process is perhaps the single most important state-building development in the country since the 1993 Constitution, and the project will support this by helping to institutionalize more accountable local government and public service delivery,” says Joao Farinha-Fernandes, an ADB Economist.

The project will provide 235 commune councils with local assembly premises that will provide adequate working facilities for elected councilors and their constituents, thus helping to establish the newly introduced institution of elected local government.

It will help develop a modern and computerized civil registration system to assist the population’s access to justice administration, based on official birth, death, and marriage documents. More comprehensive and accurate information based on the system will also improve government public service delivery and general policy making.

Last, it will provide a fund to support training for elected commune councilors, clerks, and government officials in concepts of local democracy and accountability, council tasks, roles, and services. A mass media fund will also be established to disseminate key messages on local democracy, participation, and accountability through TV, radio, and village theaters over 24 months.

The project follows the successful implementation of the pioneering Commune Councils Development Project, backed by a $10 million loan from ADB in 2002, that provided facilities and support required for 440 commune councils to function effectively.

A $200,000 technical assistance grant, from ADB’s Gender and Development Cooperation Fund, accompanies the project to support the advancement of gender equity in local governance in six target provinces.

The Government will contribute $1.98 million equivalent in the form of counterpart staff and equipment. The Ministry of Interior is the executing agency for the project, which is due for completion in December 2009.

Source: ADB website (15 December 2006)

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