Cambodian NGOs first emerged in 1992 and their numbers grew rapidly after the 1993 national elections. With this emerging civil society scene still in its early phases, CIDSE began funding CNGOs in 1993 and formally established a partnership programme in 1994. From 1993 to 1997, CIDSE assisted 32–40 CNGOs with small amounts of funds. In 1997 there was a shift to concentrate on fewer (20) CNGOs, with a greater emphasis on building the institutional capacity of partner organisations. From 1997 to 2000, systems were developed for selecting partners and planning and monitoring their capacity development.
The two key recommendations of the Partnership Department’s (PD) external evaluation in 2000 were more emphasis on upgrading partners’ programmes and organisational management skills, and a more targeted approach for capacity-building interventions to meet the specific needs of different partners. These approaches showed that the PD’s commitment to its mission of improving the capacity of partner organisations both programmatically and organisationally, by providing a series of reflection workshops (values clarification and internalisation, development paradigms and good programme practices, fund-raising, advocacy and collaboration with commune councils); conducting monitoring visits and evaluations; and encouraging partner organisations to develop and apply their capacity-building and project implementation plans. In addition, several small partner organisations started to develop strategic planning and improve the roles and functioning of their boards.
Currently partnership programme supports and works with 18 partner organizations (six community based organizations, two agricultural cooperatives and 10 Cambodian Non-governmental organizations) in seven provinces of Battambang, Bantheay Meanchey, Porsat, Svay Rieng, Kandal, Ratanakiri and Preah Vihear. The key elements of the programme include food security, advocacy and commune council, gender mainstreaming, domestic violence prevention, and instittutional capacity building. In addition, the programme has continued to cooperate closely with the Integrated Community Development programme on the phasing out of CBOs and ACs in Kampot province.