Prime Minister Meets with Non‐Government Organizations on Flood Relief

Peace Palace, 17th February 2102: CEDAC was one among thirty NGOs, which was invited to have a retreat meeting with the Prime Minister this morning. It was conducted in his cabinet meeting room at Peace Palace. Twelve NGOs and IOs have been working closely with government’s agencies to support the flood victims in 2011. They are: Caritas Cambodia, Living with Dignity (LWD), CEDAC, PADEK, World Vision Cambodia, Concern Worldwide, Care International, Plan International, Save the Children, Oxfam, ActionAID International Cambodia, Dan Church Aid (DCA) and Christian Aid (CA). To be prepared for today’s meeting, these twelve NGOs have met two times, once in December 2011 and on February 2, 2012; to discuss and compile a three pages joint statement of NGO partners, which contains five points of lessons learnt, six points of challenges, and ten points of recommendations, provided to NCDM and line government agencies (full text in my next post).

Mr. Hun Sen himself took lead of the non-stop meeting, which started punctually at 8:30am and lasted till 13:37pm. Mr. Nhim Vanda, Senior Minister and First Vice President of the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) delivered the report on flood situation in 2011 and the report on disaster management work in 2011 and objectives in 2012, before providing the floor to the Prime Minister.

The objectives of the meeting are as follows:

–       to share reports, experiences, challenges facing by government’s agencies and NGOs concerning flood relief operations in 2011;

–       to discuss on suggestions and recommendations from NGOs sector to cope up with future floods and other kind of disasters;

–       to discuss and prepare draft action plan for future reliefs and

–       To start a regular dialogue between GO and NGOs.

PM was chairing and facilitating the whole session, which was connected to all twenty four provincial halls and relevant military regions across the country via video conference. Participating in the meeting were all the Ministers of the cabinet, secretary of states, diplomats, UNDP and other UN agencies, IOs etc. PM highlighted the “importance of NGOs as development partners of the Royal Government of Cambodia in rebuilding the country in general, especially in this flood relief in 2011, in particular”.

CEDAC was one of the five NGOs, which was given the floor to speak. Others are Caritas Cambodia, LWD, World Vision Cambodia and Concern Worldwide. Dr. Koma praised in his seventeen minutes free speech (with prepared notes): “today is the historic day, that the RGC has allowed the NGOs officials to meet and share good experiences, lessons learnt, challenges concerning flood relief in 2011 and he hope that this kind of meeting would continue on a regular basis”. In my next post, I will deliberate more on CEDAC’s position, suggestions and requests.

The severe flood was from September to November 2011, which affected 18 out of 24 provinces, 122 districts (out of 183 districts) and 687 communes (out of 1633 communes) across Cambodia. The flood killed more than 250 people (52% children), and caused damages to schools, pagodas, hospitals, roads, bridges and other infrastructures worth more than U$ 500 million. 267,184 ha of paddies fields were destroyed (~10% of the total cultivated area).

My impressions of the meeting:

  • It was a very effective meeting I have ever attended. In such a short time (~5 hours), the discussion went without stop. The floor was given to designated speakers to give background of their organizations, its involvement in flood reliefs, the challenges faced and constructive suggestions. All government’s officials listened to our voices patiently. PM gave his view and replied to all raised points immediately and ordered the line ministries to continue working with concerned NGOs on that particular matters;
  • It was my fifth time to encounter the PM in close range. I have the impression that his working style is very effective. People can hate or love him, but one cannot deny that he is very intelligent, very experienced and hard–working guy. Mostly, his political opponents underestimate him;
  • The video conference is an effective tool to spread the message to provincial authorities, line agencies live and some issues could be clarified on the spot. Friday’s morning is cabinet’s meeting and it has been connected to all provincial councils meetings nationwide ;
  • Most of the points raised were taken into account seriously;
  • The atmosphere is quite friendly and we were able to understand each other more.

It is important to note that there are 3,109 NGOs/associations registered at the Ministry of Interior. PM ordered Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance, Keat Chhon, to facilitate the working relationship with NGOs and lead the future GO-NGOs forum. Currently, there are two forums: Number one is between Government and donors or development partners called Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum (CDCF, last meeting was in 2010 and next meeting will be in 2014) and the second one is between Government and Private Sector (meets annually).


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