|Cambodia's Youth are Peace Messengers|
|Thursday, 14 July 2011 00:00|
Networks of Cambodia’s young people are working as peace messengers for their families, the community and society at large thanks to Cord partner the Youth Resource Development Programme.
"The government believes that Cambodians live in peace and stability. On the contrary, we believe there is limited peace here," says Cheang Sokha, Executive Director of YRDP.
"We see that many Cambodians live in fear, poverty and sadness with few opportunities and assets. This is reflected in violent land disputes across the country, which in turn leads to individual and community conflicts with local authorities and the private sector. The government often rejects criticism," he added.
YRDP has been working with Cord for two years and recently signed up to a long-term partnership.
With Cord’s support they conducted campaigns exploring possible solutions to border conflicts between Thailand and Cambodia in Poipet, Aranh and Siem Reap; as well as training journalists to understand issues around peace and development in the region.
YRDP has now become a large organisation with a budget of US$400,000 a year.
Photo: Marching for community peace led by the monks and youth.
"Cord has helped us with a great deal including our strategic planning, fund-raising focus and project management. We have learnt a lot, it’s raised our profile, improved our image and we’ve become more effective," said Cheang Sokha.
But with fifty percent of the nation’s budget in the hands of donors and their strong influence in Cambodia’s development, Cheang Sokha said it was difficult to foresee a clear way forward for the country’s future. Despite the government being halfway through a five year development plan there is concern about its implementation. He cited a low level of investment in education and limited law enforcement in relation to school regulation.
"National politics are not always accountable and as a result our lives are quite unpredictable," he commented.
"In ten years time, Cambodia will either become a rich or a poor nation depending on the management of its natural resources, particularly the development of its extractive industry." "We only have limited information about land concessions and the exploitation of mining, oil and gas by private businesses."
Despite the uncertainties, Cord and YRDP remains committed to affecting real change in Cambodian society.