An Overview of the Roles of NGOs in Urban Development: Lesson Learned, Challenges and Opportunities

The changing political climate in Cambodia, the transitional role of the state and the Constitution 1993 opened the doors for an emerging civil society. The NGOs are working towards sustainable and equitable development in Cambodia and consider the development of human resources fundamental to long-term socio-economic development. Other themes of priority are alleviation of poverty and respect for the rule of law. Many of these NGOs are working in rural areas on community development, micro-credit, agriculture, environmental protection, and other aspects of the country's physical infrastructure, usually in cooperation with a foreign NGO, community activists or sponsors and some collaboration as part of an official Cambodian government ministry. Their work addresses the infrastructure underpinning essential for the reconstruction of Cambodian society. But, nevertheless, not many NGOs are working in urban areas due to the donor requirements and the environmental work context.
Cambodia is in the early stages of development and urbanization. The total population in 2005 was14.83 million of which 2.93 million (20 percent) was urban. Of the urban population, 1.17 million (40 percent) was concentrated in Phnom Penh, the capital city. The rest is distributed thinly over the 24 provincial capitals and smaller urban centers. The urban population is projected to increase at the relatively high rate of 3.5 percent per annum reaching 8 million (35 percent of the total population) by 2030 with Phnom Penh continuing to gain at the expense of other cities. As a result of the high rate of urban growth, cities are expanding before the required infrastructure and services can be put in place. Consequently, the number of squatter settlements is increasing, and over half the urban population is estimated to be living without access to adequate housing, water or sanitation.
This paper is going to highlight on various aspects of the roles of NGOs in urban development focusing in Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia, where I can draw a good example on how the NGOs engage with urban poor communities, informal settlements and community network on the following themes:
community development
slum upgrading and infrastructure improvement
legal advocacy, human rights and conflict resolution
health and sanitation

Keywords: Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Urban Development, legal advocacy, compensation, community engagement

Phann Sithan
former Coordinator
Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF)
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Phann Sithan - The Roles of NGOs in Urban Development.pdf846.7 KB