On 16 May 2008, I have participated in the training which trained by Dr. Yang Saing Koma, the president of CEDAC. The training’s topic is Self-Reliant Development. To me, I personally note that the training enabled me to review the general concept of self-reliant development approach.
My idea is that the training is very useful for me and other development workers to deeply understand about the self reliant development approach such as the usage of internal community resources, including human resource, local knowledge and local innovations, or I can say the development that led by the community people so that we actually need to take more time to build up the capacity of local people in order to ensure the sustainability of the development, we mainly point to the process and long term sustainability. Some development NGOs just think on the output in purpose of accomplishing the project’s objectives so they utilize all ways to achieve the project’s objective, for example they provide much incentive to attract community people to participate in the project.
It is really good for a short term output, but it’s not good for the long term sustainability of the project, it will provoke community people to be high dependency and it will be more and more deteriorated increasingly, so we cannot follow to the approach of self-reliant development if the mentality of the community people is dependent. At this time, we see that there are various kinds of development approaches are being implemented in the community, but sometimes the development agencies themselves are constraints if other NGOs meanwhile they have different approaches.
For example, one NGO works with the community people by provision of huge incentive support in purpose of promoting high technology and another one just provides the training, capacity building by the usage of local innovation so it is difficult to move forward if they are working on the same area. Relating to the self-reliant development approach, we definitely need work closely with the community to determine the problem, possible solution, resources that have in the community that are able to contribute in solving the problem of the community issue. So, first of all we need to know well about the situation of the community, what is the need, what is the potential, what can we begin to start? Truly, we need to work specifically on 2 points, human capital and social capital in the community in order to make a good sustainability of our work in the local area.
Later on, I have learned that each technical innovation that we introduce to the community people is meaningful and there are a lot of things behind each innovation. What is the change of people when they apply SRI was raised to discuss during the training, so when we talk in detail relating to the technical innovation, those innovations are not just only to improve/increase the productivity but also help to change the farmers’ idea and attitude as well. Our main development is focused on the mentality or I can say it is the mind development.
People will not follow the technique we introduce if they are not changed in term of their mind. During the training, I have learned to answer on the following questions: What is the principle of self-reliant development? Is the self-reliant development suitable to the condition of Cambodia? Why? What is our activity and strategy to boost the self-reliant development? What is the initiative point for self-reliant development? What is the opportunity for us to urge the self-reliant development? What is the threat or constraint? What is the improving point or the point that is needed to be strengthened? At the end of the training, we also talked about the ecological village and as the result, 46 villages are potentially to be the ecological village in 2010.
The criteria were developed by the participants, those are presented as bellows: No plastic in the public area of the village Farmer produce compost for farming (farmer family) There are home garden over than 70% of the total family in the village Family apply SRI (System of Rice Intensification) over than 70% of the village’s family There is regulation on natural resource management in the village There is self-reliant saving group with the participation of over than 50% of the total family in the village Number of family that use chemical fertilizer is less than 10% 75% of the farmer family is the member of farmer group such as saving group, farmer association, community, etc.
There is good farmer organization in the village 50% of family in the village use hygienic latrine Number of family use bio-digestor plant over than 20% Improved Cook Stove, Solar energy There is the management and rehabilitation of infrastructure in the village Conserve and use the local seed especially rice seed 100% of the total family in the village is good food security Children finish primary education at least grade 9 There is village general meeting at least 2 times per year People drink clean water