Why is it important to support democratic development in Cambodia?

The first democratic elections were held in Cambodia in 1993. However, there is still a lack of democratic culture and many challenges remain. The democratic development has been rather slow in Cambodia and the main obstacles are weak democratic institutions, limited citizen engagement, a non-independent legal and judicial system and widespread corruption.

Sweden's support and results

Sweden has supported Cambodia's decentralisation process and through the reform helped to establish and strengthen elected local councils and a regulatory framework for increased local self-governance.

The support to the decentralisation process has contributed to creating conditions for improved democratic practices from below through transferring power to the local level and through increasing citizens’ possibilities to demand accountability.

The decentralisation reform is a long-term process but research shows that the reform has resulted in increased empowerment, public participation and improved local infrastructure and services.

What we do now and what we plan to do

The support for the decentralisation process is targeted at increasing transparency and citizen participation regarding priorities, decisions and monitoring of delegated development resources. The support for the decentralisation reform is also linked to the support of civil society at the local level.

Furthermore, capacity development at various levels of government is supported. Sweden continues to support Cambodia's reform of the public financial management system. Reliable statistics are essential for good governance, democratic control and an equal society. Sweden continues to support capacity building for the development and application of high-quality statistics.

The recently adopted anti-corruption law is an important step to fight corruption in Cambodia. Sweden supports initiatives to implement the law and Sweden also supports Transparency International Cambodia in their work against corruption. Sweden also supports the independent research institute CDRI (Cambodia Development Resource Institute) that among other activities conducts research on development and policy.

Ongoing projects

• Support to Institutional Capacity Building of the National Institute of Statistics by Statistics Sweden

Sweden is supporting capacity development of the National Institute of Statistics (NIS), through cooperation with Statistics Sweden. The overall objective is to combat poverty and monitor development by providing relevant and easily accessible data and analysis, in particular data trends of good quality.

The current support focuses on:

  1. Statistical production with focus on building up NIS capacity in the different steps of a survey using the Cambodia Socio-Economic Survey (CSES) as a tool.
  2. National Accounts and consumer price index.
  3. Management infrastructure.    

The timeframe for this support is 2012-2015 with a total budget of 31 500 000 SEK.

• National Census of Agriculture by FAO

The main objective of the project is contribution to poverty reduction and food security though more effective agriculture and rural development policies and programmes defined and implemented on the basis of relevant, reliable and up-to date structural data on the agricultural sector for their interventions.  

The timeframe for this support is 2013-2015 with a total budget of 8 000 000 SEK.

• Transparency International Cambodia (TIC)

The support to Transparency International Cambodia (TIC) is a core support for establishing and ensuring the functions of the institution and for cooperation with stakeholders in anti-corruption. The cooperation with stakeholders includes the government, civil society, the private sector and the research community.

The timeframe for this support is 2012-2015 with a total budget of 12 650 000 SEK.

• Public Financial Management Reform (PFM)

The Sida support to the PFM reform programme is channelled through a Multi Donor Trust fund managed by the World Bank. It is used for a programme support without earmarking and no specific Swedish conditions. The programme is implemented by the Ministry of Economy and Finance in Cambodia.

The development objective of the Cambodia Public Financial Management Trust Fund (PFMTF) is to strengthen PFM by strengthening:

  1. The mobilisation of public resources
  2. The management of public resources
  3. The management of human resources
  4. External audit and oversight

The timeframe for this support is 2008-2014 with a budget of 30 000 000 SEK.

• Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI)

The support to CDRI is a core support to:

- Support the production of independent, objective, high quality development research.

- Make a significant contribution to Cambodia´s national development research culture, capacity and institutions.

- Achieve best practice standards for research quality.

- Build a more sustainable future for CDRI as Cambodia´s leading development policy research institution.

The timeframe for this support is 2011-2016 with a total budget of 27 000 000 SEK.

• National Programme for Sub-National Democratic Development (NP-SNDD) Implementation Plan – IP3-II

The overall objective of the reform is to “improve the operations, governance, and service delivery of Sub-National Authorities (SNAs), to ensure they meet their democratic development mandate”. The Swedish support is linked to the NP-SNDDs implementation plan for 2015-2017. In December 2014, a formulation process was concluded and resulted in following five priority areas;

- Reform Management

- Democratic Accountability

- Human Resource Management

- Services and Functions

- Fiscal Decentralisation

The timeframe for this support is 2015-2017 with a total budget of 67 000 000 SEK.

EU Programme for Strengthening Democratic Councils in Cambodia (EU-SPACE) – Phase II

The purpose with this support is, together with other EU Development Partners, to strengthening performance, transparency and accountability of sub-national government agencies and councils by contributing to an enabling legal and policy environment and strengthening sub-national councils by modelling innovative approaches for country-wide roll-out.

The timeframe for this support is 2013-2015 with a total budget of 4 600 000 SEK.

• Abitration Council Foundation Cambodia

The objective with this intervention is to support the development of an efficient and recognised labour dispute arbitration system.

The timeframe for this support is 2014-2016 with a total budget of 8 400 000 SEK.

• Partnership for Gender Equity – phase III

The programme aims to ensure that the gender-sensitive policies and plans for Cambodian MDGs (CMDG) acceleration are actually implemented and make and impact on the status, rights, and choices of Cambodian women. With support from Sweden and UNDP, the Cambodian Ministry of Women’s Affairs will

1. Scale up support to key sectors such as environment and climate change, decentralisation, gender-based budgeting in the Public Financial Management Reform Programme (PFM), Public Administration Reform, including the development of a Programme Based Approach (PBA).

2. Increase access to gender-sensitive business development services for women small-business entrepreneurs providing them with technical and business skills.

3. Scale up preventive and remedial responses to Gender-based Violence (GBV).

The timeframe for this support were 2012-2015 with a total budget of 8 000 000 SEK.

• Promoting Citizen Engagement in Democratic Development through PACT

The overall objective of the project is to empower Cambodian citizens to exercise increased power to improve governance at the sub-national level, across four provinces and eight districts and municipalities in the country.

The Swedish support specifically aim at:

1. Increased communication among citizens that reflects well-informed, self-interested opinions on district governance issues.

2. More district council actions are directly influenced by diverse citizen participation.

3. Government policies around sub-national democratic development are more influenced by civil society.

The total budget for this three year intervention (2015-2017) is 17 500 000 SEK.