The Initial Cluster Convention was held on September 13, 2022, at the FHI 360 Office in Phnom Penh, with 29 participants (10 females), including 06 indigenous peoples. The convention brought together media organizations, civil society organizations (CSOs), and community-based organizations (CBOs) working on indigenous peoples, natural resources, forestry, land, and the environment.
Open Development Cambodia (ODC) organized the convention, which was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through Family Health International (FHI 360) as part of the Civil Society Support (CSS) Project: Cluster Anchor Grants. ODC is the anchor and collaborates with three cluster members: CamboJA, the Conserve Indigenous Peoples Language Organization (CIPL), and Young Eco Ambassadors (YEA). The project aims to make natural resource management (NRM) more sustainable, inclusive, and participatory by incorporating Indigenous Peoples’ needs and concerns. The projects contain 26 major activities. One of the important parts is the convention, which clusters members and the host of their network to share lessons learned, information, and prioritized issues on natural resource management, environment, forestry, land, indigenous peoples, Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
The cluster members will be integrated through physical meetings as a project initiative. ODC hosted the initial cluster convention, which brought together all cluster members and networks to build networks, learn from one another, map the effective strategy, and pave the way for future NRM advocacy activity in Cambodia. As a result, the initial cluster convention has four core objectives, including:
- Explaining the nature of cluster formation and the roles of each cluster
- Create a friendly learning and sharing environment for cluster members and their networks
- Keep current priority environmental issues, as well as environmental laws and regulations, up to date
- Encourage cluster members and stakeholders to work together.
Natural resource management issues are arising in the country, particularly land grab and encroachment, economic land concession, communal land titling, forestry, and environment and social fund, among others. On the other hand, the prioritized issue could be related to forestry. Many CSOs fail to focus on the Investment Law, which is at the heart of the development project, causing many problems for local communities. The law should be thoroughly reviewed, particularly regarding indigenous peoples and natural resource management. If the law is not carefully studied, residents may face difficulties if there are any development projects or investments in their areas. The communities lack precise information on the development project and strategy that address the issues. Natural resources are indigenous peoples’ last hope; therefore, they must be protected. As a result, indigenous peoples should broaden their alliances in each campaign and workshop.
On 04th July 2023, Open Development Cambodia (ODC) conducted training on cybersecurity for the CSS-cluster members and their networks. The training course aims to raise awareness of the cluster member on cyber security as well as digital security including password management, safe internet browsing, email security, and mobile security. We also provided participants with the essential skill to cope with issues related to cyberattacks and safeguard personal data and accounts. There are 32 participants (12 females) joining the training from ADHOC, NEP, YEA, Epic Arts, CHRAC, SVC, Bophana Center, CENTRAL, LoveIsDiversity, and other networks. To assess capacity, all trainees are required to complete the pre-test. Mr. NGET Moses, Digital Security Consultant, asked each trainee to introduce themselves, their position, organization, and their expectations of the training at the start of the training in order to understand their background and needs. He started the lesson on “password management” by providing an overview of passwords, creating strong passwords, and password managers. The questions were discussed around the topic with actual examples. He continued to the next lesson “safe internet browsing” which highlighted the threats and how to do safe browsing and virtual private network. Email security and mobile security are also very important for trainees. In this session, the trainer demonstrated how to secure mobile devices and emails. The session concludes with a summary of the lessons and a post-test to assess the trainees’ understanding. The evaluation was also requested in order to improve training. One of our trainees, SENG Sokcheat, a member of LoveIsDiversity express, “I think this training is very important as it helps us protect our privacy from online scammers. Also, everyone who is using social media, internet, or other online services should join this training.” The training was conducted under the Learning Platform (LP) project which was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through Family Health International (FHI 360) as part of the Civil Society Support (CSS) Project.
Open Development Cambodia (ODC) under the Civil Society Support Activity: Cluster Anchor Grants funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through Family Health International (FHI 360) supported indigenous peoples to participate in the Conference on Land and Natural Resource Governance which was organized by the NGO Forum on Cambodia in Ratanakiri province on 12th - 13th October 2022. The conference aims to engage with the Royal Government of Cambodia to advance laws and policies related to land and natural resources and to strengthen the implementation of policies, laws, and regulations that are meant to promote land and natural resource governance with a focus on addressing social impacts and protecting natural resources and the environment, as well as the sustainable livelihoods of local communities. The event was divided into two phases, which began with gathering input from over a hundred local communities, indigenous communities, community protected areas, forestry communities, and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The inputs were used for the panel discussion with the representatives of Ratanakiri, Stung Treng, Kratie, Preah Vihear, Mondulkiri, and Kampong Thom Provincial Governors, Ministry of Interior (MoI), Provincial Departments of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Provincial Departments of Environment, Provincial Department of Land Management, Urban Planning, and Construction, Provincial Departments of Rural Development, Provincial Departments of Mines and Energy, and private sectors on the second day with a total of 250 people (60 females) participated. Land and natural resource governor in Ratanakiri province Economic land concession within the province is granted to 27 companies, of which 10 companies justified the contract, 06 companies are in the process of revising, and 11 companies have not signed the contracts. The business area is 83,785 hectares, with a total investment area of 181,896 hectares. The area that has been cleared is 56,702 hectares, and the cultivated area is 51,067 hectares. There are 75 indigenous communities recognized by the Ministry of Rural Development, while 85 communities have been recognized as legal entities by the Ministry of Interior. However, only 24 indigenous communities received communal land titles from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning, and Construction. Systematic land registration achieved 15,691 titles which is equivalent to 10,741 families. Two villages have finished the public announcement, while a village is in progress. Two public announcements on the communal land titling are finished and requesting reclassification for three communities. There are 11 community-protected areas and 36 community forestry, of which 22 have been registered with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery (MAFF). There are 14 community fisheries, and all of them have been recognized while two new communities have been established. Recognize and protect customary land tenure The community and civil society organizations have identified key challenges to recognizing and protecting customary land tenure. Land that has received the land title or is in processing is not yet secured, and the process is complicated, time-consuming, and costly. The approved land classification does not correspond to actual practice and occasionally overlaps with protected areas because management areas have not been clearly divided. Despite the fact that the land has been registered, indigenous peoples continue to face land grabbing and deforestation. According to the community, the forest crime crackdown is still limited and ineffective. The community committee\'s capacity and knowledge are limited and need to be expanded in terms of by-laws and internal rules, while the community\'s livelihood and natural resource conservation must be improved. To address the issues, the communities would like to see strong collaboration between communities and local authorities to strengthen law enforcement with the assistance of district and provincial administrations. The network of community forestry should be established from the national to the commune level. The process of titling communal land should be improved, and the government should provide an annual budget for each community to manage the land and forest while also improving their standard of living. The budget could be used as a community loan for each member. Yet, the results of the suggestions cannot be confirmed.
On 08 February 2023, ODC organized the “Indigenous Peoples Sectoral Advisory Meeting” with the partners, including Conserve Indigenous Peoples Languages Organization, MyVillage Cambodia - MVi អង្គការ ភូមិខ្ញុំ, Forests and Livelihood Organization FLO, Cambodia Indigenous Youth Association-CIYA, and FHI 360 to identify the challenges, activities, roles of the group, and call for new members. The project is funded by USAID Cambodia through FHI 360 under Cluster Anchor Grant from the Civil Society Support (CSS) Project.