Chea Cheysovanna, STAR Kampuchea
For social accountability to benefit more people, it is necessary for people to understand what it is and how it can be used toward good governance. In most developing countries, however, capacity is still limited, and in the process slows down the use of social accountability tools to achieve governance reforms.
In this light, ANSA-EAP’s most valuable contribution to STAR Kampuchea—a network of civil society organizations based in Phnom Penh and seven provinces—are the social accountability tools and techniques that it introduced to the network. These tools are personally valued by network members, among them Chea Cheysovanna, a trainor and facilitator who feels she has become more effective in her mission with the help of ANSA EAP. Capacity building is relevant to her and to ANSA EAP because it creates a deeper understanding of what good governance means and entails from her and from other stakeholders.
These social accountability tools have been echoed and re-echoed within the network, said Cheysovanna, in the process developing the network’s capacity to engage stakeholders to achieve governance reforms. In echoing these tools to others, she further deepens her understanding of social accountability and allows her to learn from them at the same time.
STAR Kampuchea aims to promote democracy and poverty reduction in Cambodia by building the capacity of its network partners.
Cheysovanna joined the capacity building workshop held by ANSA EAP in Bangkok, which trained facilitators how to build capacity for social accountability. The sessions covered topics like facilitation skills, process observation, among others, and gave actual examples based on the experiences of other network partners in the East Asia and Pacific region.
ANSA EAP helped deepen Cheysovanna’s understanding of social accountability as it applied to her daily work. Cheysovanna said that she knew about the concept of social accountability before she became part of the network. However, her knowledge of how to apply it in STAR Kampuchea’s activities was limited, until ANSA-EAP provided actual tools and techniques that can work well in Cambodia. She is grateful to ANSA EAP for her richer and deeper working knowledge of SAc, which, she says, makes her more effective in her work, and more knowledgeable as a person.
“ANSA EAP provided me with SAc tools such as the process of engagement, citizen report cards, citizen dialogue and budget tracking to solve our problems,” she said. “I can do advocacy for better public service. I can conduct press conferences and I have become a speaker for radio. I also participate and help in the preparation of events of network members.” By putting Cheysovanna reach out to a broader audience, STAR Kampuchea is able to expand its capacity building efforts in Cambodia.
STAR Kampuchea, for its part, has increased its effectiveness with the techniques learned through ANSA EAP. With their expanded knowledge on the use of these tools, STAR Kampuchea’s members also have a stronger voice in pushing for reform in government programs as well as in making governance a participatory process. A number of government officials are more willing to listen to what its network partners have to say. More meetings are also taking place between the government and STAR Kampuchea’s members, in the process laying the foundation for more citizen monitoring initiatives.
As an example, government officials of Takeo province who initially refused to allow STAR Kampuchea to hold social accountability trainings eventually agreed because of ANSA EAP’s partnership with the national government of Cambodia.
“Because of ANSA EAP, we achieved good results in our programs. The results would not have been as good without ANSA EAP’s support,” said Cheysovanna. In particular, its efforts to push for transparency in tax collection have advanced.
To make more Cambodians aware of how they can become part of the governance process, STAR Kampuchea holds national SAc fora, talk show programs and press conferences. It has started a taxation campaign. All these are personally important for Cheysovanna.
Cheysovanna looks forward to a strong working relationship between ANSA EAP and STAR Kampuchea. She also hopes to expand her skills in the process, and grow in her profession. She hopes to sustain and strengthen its efforts to achieve tax reforms with ANSA EAP’s support. More importantly, she hopes to see increased citizen-government engagement to achieve good governance which is the first step toward poverty reduction and democracy in Cambodia.