Paving the way to a better future

Time, money and even lives will be saved in a Kratie province commune, thanks to a simple infrastructure project.

A kilometer of dirt road has changed Muth Sopheap’s life. While it would take the Mouse Island village farmer up to four hours to transport 80kg of rice to market a year ago, he now does the same journey in 20 minutes. But the greatest benefit to come from the 1,485m strip of road is peace of mind. It’s put his two children within easy access of a health centre, and means they can get to school more easily. 

The road in Kratie province’s Chhlong commune was built this year, with money from the commune fund, the ASPIRE foundation and contributions from the local community. On November 28 residents and authorities gathered for a meeting to reflect on the new road and to discuss future commune projects. Mr Thim Eng, a 63-year-old farmer and father-of-six, said before the road was built residents had to drive motorbikes on other pot-holed roads and had to cross a canal.

“When farmers first drive to the canal, they have to spend time shifting crops, such as banana, rice, and cane juice, off their tractor and motorbikes, carry it over the bridge and then put back on the tractor and motorbikes. Otherwise, it would be too heavy” he said.

“But now, they don’t have to spend time for cross-bridge transactions, they can drive their farm products to home or market directly.”

In the future he hoped to see the construction of irrigation platforms, to help his community grow more crops.

Mr Sopheap agreed, and said he believed if they learnt better farming techniques and had access to more water, they would be able to produce three times as many crops a year. Chhlong commune chief Mr Seng Kimchang said that the road project has helped more than 1,000 families and more than 7,000 people are living in the area.

“Citizens are enthusiastic about the achievement of this road because it is easier for them to travel to markets, schools, health centers and transport agriculture,” he said. “It was especially difficult to get cows to cross the canal before.”

Next year, he said the commune planned to build additional roads, drainage canals and improve the water system in selected villages.

Governor of Chhlong District Meas Kunthy requested that residents take care of the roads so that it would serve their long-term interests.

According to Chhlong Commune Chief, a newly constructed natural gravel road, which was be completed in 2017, was be 1,485 meters long and two sewers with a total budget of 90,166,470 Riels, of which 59,966,470 Riels of communal funds and 30,000,000 Riels will be funded by the ASPIRE Foundation and 200,000 Riels by people contribution.

Commune Funds is a budget package that the Royal Government is transferring to communes. This fund includes revenues from a specific portion of the annual state budget revenues and development partner’s contributions. The fund has two main parts: General and Local Development.

Please note: The Commune/Sangkat Fund was created for the purpose of: (1) Ensuring that Commune/Sangkat is able to cover general responsibility for local administration work and to promote local development in accordance with the Law on Commune/Sangkat Management. (2) reduce the difference in the potential for direct revenue collection between Sangkats because the situation may vary on geographical, economic, social and demographic conditions. And (3) Encourage capacity building for good governance of Commune/Sangkat councils. The Royal Government has issued a sub-decree to establish the Commune/Sangkat Fund on February 25, 2002, after promulgating the Law on Administration of Commune/Sangkat Administration dated 19 March 2001.

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