Last week I attended my first government function since returning to Cambodia. This was a Ministry of Rural Development workshop on Monitoring and Evaluation of Cooperation with NGOs.
Both of my primary partners from my first term were government entities – the Prey Veng Provincial Office of Irrigation and the Angkearhdei Primary School. I also related to the Provincial Department of Education and the Provincial Teacher Training Center. So I have some familiarity with government relations in Cambodia but it was still intimidating to be in the room with a Secretary of State. Especially as the only foreigner in the room. But that was also a familiar feeling from my last term. I’ll never forget going to the Provincial Department of Education to ask a clerk for a statistics report and being taken immediately to see one of the Deputy Governors. The majority of international NGOs send Cambodian personnel to meetings like this and MCC has long been an exception, making an investment in International personnel gaining functional local language skills.
There were four primary items on the agenda for the meeting.
- Reporting Guidelines: The Ministry answered questions and issued reminders on NGO reporting requirements.
- Regional Update: The Cambodia ASEAN office issued an update on regional cooperation initiatives.
- Rural Development Profiles: Six NGOs presented on their initiatives and experience.
- iDE was a standout here. They had a very interesting presentation on their human centered design process. iDE is an unusual NGO that focuses on alleviating poverty through the creation of new small enterprises.
- Rural Development Strategic Plan: The Ministry shared their three year strategic plan.