PR: Community consultation

After the consultation meeting with the Local authority last February 2018 on the research finding since 2017 to have their feedback and commitment to serve the local community at the ground. Again from 08-10 June, 2018 ACT conducted the consultation with the local communities from BoreiCholsa district to follow up and have their feedback on the report to have more engagement from what the Peace research team found their collection at the ground and the involvement from all related parties to take their feedback and comment on it to make the report more stronger and to strengthen their understanding of the accountability, governance and peacebuilding in their community. There were 32 participants with 20 women.

Welcoming the participants, Ms. Srey Sotheavy, Executive Director of ACT introduced about ACT is non-profit, non-political, non-faith base organization and working for only the purpose of being contribute to the development of the country and community. Currently ACT has four programs Interfaith Peace Building and Natural Resource Management (IF-NRM) which provided capacity building, Social Accountability (I-SAF) which strengthens the engagement of community people to three services primary schools, health center services and commune services.  Peace Research (PR) which provided training to youths to do practical research at the field respond to the country issues raise up to public and relate responsible person from government and private person to involve in dealing together for respond to the community issue. Media for Peace (MP) which provided training to media and social media about peace journalism and code of conduct of media to engage in peaceful media for the society.  She also shared her presentation about the Social Accountability and the engagement of the community people for their community improvement, Constitution of Cambodia for them to be aware of their right and their involvement in building peace in this society. Presentation about the peace research finding from Takeo were present to the community and the consultation with the local authority in Takeo last February were present and for updated with the local community weather they able to receive the improvement and action after the presentation from ACT peace research last time.

After know about the social accountable of the citizen and the research result from peace research and the local government commitment in Takeo. The community who participated from BoreiChulsa village told that: since he and she lived in this village for long time since after the dark regime, they never got invitation from their local authority to join meeting as they have many things to share and suggest for local authority to take action. Even if there is a meeting, there is no call for them to attend, but only those who are close to the local authority’s house was known about this meeting. When there is aid or gift distribute to community people only their relative or party was given. They added that if the local authorities are well manage the tax from trade between the Vietnamese traders across the border use that money for the development of the village, there will be a lot but in fact the local authority they put a lot of post to collect money illegally from Khmer trade that over the limited amount that this way made Khmer people who live and invest along the border more serious condition. Cambodian businessmen discourage to make business because there are many taxpayers and businessmen are only Vietnamese traders.

Community people raise their concern and willing to see the local authority take responsible in their role to dealing with issues that happen in their communities such as:

  • Lack of infrastructure for local people (road, bridges, toilet, water, irrigation,….)
  • There is no right to citizens in meetings in villages and communes to critical issues
  • Illegal fishing, illegal business
  • Lack of clean water for use
  • Domestic violence
  • Agriculture was encourage for Cambodian farmer to have proper price
  • Threat and fears of people expressions their opinions and rights
  • Prohibit people from attending communal meetings
  • Failure to comply with the promises of party, if they win they will do infrastructure
  • There is a lot of taxation for people who bring their products to Vietnam
  • Local authority never respond what community requested
  • The commune does not provide good services to villages
  • If there is conflict or land crabbing from the power person there never able to deal it to the community
  • There a lot of injustice happened and no any intervention take action
  • Local authority seem hid all those issue due to they afraid of losing their title
  • Criminal cases happened with no any intervention and justice for community
  • Recently in early of June there were two cases shot by Vietnam to Khmer Border police but no any intervention. Etc..

The local community very much thanks ACT who explain them to know and they suggested ACT to keep going on provide capacity building directly to their local community and instruct to the local authority to play their role affectively. They insist again and again for ACT to support their community and pushing government to respond to their concern.

ACT project Challenged: at this time to engage the local community people from target area, ACT team had been communicate directly invited the people from the village, commune, from the target areas since a month before the consultation started date and we got positive confirm from the local authorities.  But in three days before the program started, ACT got confirm back from commune authority of BoreiCholsa not to send people to come to our program, because the district administration does not allow. On the same day, the working group tried to contact the district governors who had previously participated in the program with ACT in order to request authorization and cooperation as those local authority who used to join with ACT consultation so far and they promised to give their cooperation for ACT in the future but come to that day the district administration does not allow their villages people to come and join ACT event ACT got confirm from the community people, village chief, commune but the district did not allow and ban them not to come and join with ACT; due to the time is close to the election and they have to keep their people at their home village to got the leaflets distributed by the party. But in other communes, we contacted the team that they could join the program, so we continued to keep going on our program. Therefore, the team also had direct contact with other community people to join, and there was another commune that allowed people to participate. On that departure day, when people come up  from villages was order to go back and not allow to join the ACT program by told to the community people that “not stable saturation” with this threat community people hesitate to join and some so afraid of the unsecure event happened. The commune also informs their village that the district will pay all their travel expends back. ACT team still keep the program going on as we had about 40% of community participation confirm and joined us. When team travel to Kampot where we order meeting room for the meeting at the same time we got confirm from owner no electricity so we did cancel the meeting room due to no electric available.  So ACT Peace Research team decided to meet at the mangrove community for the consultation with LCD offer from YCC for the consultation day.

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