This year the Unit’s work focused on three main governance issues: social accountability, decentralization of sector functions from central to subnational levels, and hydrodam development. The team published three research papers. Reports for the studies on Rights-Based Approach to Development: A Cambodian Perspective and Social Accountability in Service Delivery in Cambodia have been published as Working Paper Nos. 101 and 102, respectively. Summaries of both papers featured in the Cambodia Development Review. An article on “Social Accountability and Education Sector Reform in Cambodia” will be published in the Journal of Contemporary Asia. The team also worked with the Environment Unit on a joint project looking at Agricultural Technological Practices and Gaps for Climate Change Adaptation, the findings of which were published in Working Paper No.100.
Still a new area of research in Cambodia, and due to be released as a working paper in early 2016, is the study on Leadership Pathways for Local Women. The aim is to develop a practical model for women to take up local leadership roles by examining the complexity of women leaders’ real-life situations and exploring women’s pathways to leadership positions. The study on Capacity for Deconcentration Reform in Cambodia is expected to be completed in June 2016. This timely study looks at how the related concepts of “lack of capacity” and “capacity building” are being used by government officials in the context of deconcentration reform, and the political dimensions of what government officials really mean when they use these concepts in discussing challenges and opportunities for reform.
The project on Mekong Water Governance, financed by the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) through its program on Water, Land and Ecology, has made good progress. The project team is finalizing a working paper examining villagers’ strategies for resistance and their perspectives regarding resettlement due to the Lower Sesan 2 hydropower dam. The Unit has been actively engaged in many national and subnational policy dialogues, consultations and discussions with government, civil society and development partners. Of particular note was the convening of a panel discussion on “What is Good Mekong Water Governance?” at the annual 2015 Greater Mekong Forum on Food, Water and Energy, organised by CGIAR at Cambodiana Hotel on 21-23 October. The panel session focused on how Mekong water governance can be improved by exploring local perceptions of good governance, drawing on diverse perspectives of the Mekong Water Governance Framework and existing platforms.
Capacity building activities, including training on research methods and analytical writing skills, enabled researchers to enrich their research skills. In addition, opportunities to work closely with senior researchers provide early career researchers with continuous mentoring and support. We are very proud of our two female research assistants who are now pursuing master’s degree studies overseas, one in Thailand and the other in the United States. The Governance Unit has developed a new five-year research agenda titled Ponlork: The Emergence of a New Era for Cambodia. This new research program will focus on the impact on political pluralism stemming from the “new generation” and the expansion of decentralization and deconcentration reform.
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