Welcome Remark by Ms. Sarah Sitts, Country Manager Pact Cambodia, at Project Launching Workshop “Promoting Citizen Engagement in Democratic Development (PROCEED) Project”, 18 December 2012

Good morning, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. SomAwkundaelbaanmokpreuknih. We are very pleased you have joined us to celebrate the launch of the PROCEED project – Promoting Civic Engagement in Democratic Development…

Good morning, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. SomAwkundaelbaanmokpreuknih. We are very pleased you have joined us to celebrate the launch of the PROCEED project – Promoting Civic Engagement in Democratic Development.

Working in Cambodia for over twenty years, Pact brings extensive expertise working on democratization, decentralization and strengthening civil society, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to build on past lessons and successes while developing new approaches under the PROCEED project.

To achieve the project goal, of citizens exercising increased power to affect governance at the sub-national level, the project will focus on building the “demand” side of governance – increasing the knowledge, capacity and confidence of citizens and civil society organizations to take effective action for their interests in commune and districtgovernment decision making. Under PROCEED, Pact coachesour partner NGOs – based in the project provinces – to take the lead with much of the project implementation, working with their local civil society. PROCEED will also invest in networking civil society – from community-based organizations at the district and commune levels to the Working Group for Partnerships in Decentralization (WGPD) at the national level – so organizations can leverage each other’s successes for greater impact. In the end, Pact’s role in PROCEED is not to lead civil society, but to support and equip them to pursue what is important to them.

To maximize achievement toward the project goal, PROCEED will also work with the “supply” side of governance – the elected officials and administrations of commune and district councils, supporting them to create more space for citizen participation and welcome feedback from their constituents.We are grateful for the support of the NCDD and elected provincial officials, and appreciate their requests to district and commune officials and administrations to participate in this project to improve civic engagement.

There is no question that there will be challenges in implementing PROCEED. What is important is that we maximize the opportunities to consult, learn and share our experiences, lessons learned and develop new best practices for achieving results. The NCDD Secretariat, World Bank and a wide collection of civil society have been developing a Social Accountability Framework, to consolidate approaches to improve government’s responsiveness to its citizens and improve the capacity of communities to engage government in enhancing democratic accountability goals. The PROCEED project is closely aligned with the goals and strategies of the Social Accountability Framework will send representatives to engage in Social Accountability Framework consultations as they arise, to share our experiences with others pursuing similar goals and provide lessons learned or best practices developed during our implementation.

There are many people and organizations to thank for their support to the PROCEED project. Of course, this project would not be possible without the support of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. On behalf of Pact, our partners and our beneficiaries, thank you for recognizing the importance of building civic engagement in Cambodia’s sub-national democratic development.

Thank you to our partners at the NCDD Secretariat for their collaboration and leadership to contribute to civic engagement. Thank you to H.E. Sek Satha for taking time out of his busy schedule to join us this morning. Also thank you to H.E. NganChamroeun for his input to and support of the project, including very useful input during the project design.
Thank you as well to our project partners, for their hard work and input so far into the project design and start-up activities. PROCEED implementing partners include AnakutKuma, AMARA, Phnom Srey Organization for Development, Village Support Group, Women’s Media Centre, CCSP, WGPD and VBNK. We look forward to deepening our partnership through implementing the PROCEED project and I look forward to visiting our provincial partners and seeing the work on the ground over the life of the project.

Lastly, thank you to all of you who attended the project launch today. We appreciate your interest in this project and look forward to exchanging ideas today and in the coming years.
Thank you.

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