Association of Councils Enhanced Services (ACES)

Project summary

Recognizing the potential of the associations of local councilors, the Associations of Councils Enhanced Services project (ACES, 2012-2017) was established, with funding support from EU and UNDP. It aims at turning the Associations of Sub-National Administration Councils (ASAC) into an effective representative of local voices for democratic development. ACES builds on the previous EU-UNDP funded project, Democratic and Decentralized Local Governance (DDLG, 2006-2011), which enabled the establishment and the development of the first local government association, the National League of Commune and Sangkat Councils (NLC/S), in Cambodia.

The project endeavors for the Associations of Sub-national Administration Councils to make a qualitative leap forward, building on the experiences of the previous six years project, DDLG. The envisaged qualitative changes of the Associations of Sub-national Administration Councils are:

1. Local impact: Major impacts at the local level working through strengthened Provincial Associations of District, Municipality, Khan, commune and Sangkat (DMK-CS) councils.

2. Proactive policy formulation: Proactive advocacy of Sub-national administration councils and citizen interests contributing to Cambodia’s decentralization reforms.

3. Democratic governance: Institutional focus on local democratic practices including access to information, civic engagement, public ethics, downwards accountability, and effective council oversight of the executive.

Key results

  • The interests of Sub-national administration Councils and citizens have been promoted and voiced out through deploying constructive methods for advocacy of clearly defined needs and demands.  For instance, 913 issues had been raised through sub-national forums, 873 had been solved and 40 pending for high level discussion.
  • 25 Provincial Associations of District, Municipality, Khan, Commune and Sangkat (PADMKCS), the National League of Local Councils (NLC), the National Association of Capital and Provincial Councils (NACPC) and its Joint-Secretariat were established and duly registered with the Ministry of Interior as NGO.
  • The Code of Conduct (CoC) of Sub-National Administration Councilors was developed and endorsed by NLC Executive Committee and further disseminated to all individual councilors who are member of ASAC throughout the country (16,000 copies). 
  • The capacity of leaders, secretaries, assistants, ASAC-S secretariat’s staff and provincial back-stoppers on financial management and accounting have been improved.  The Management and Operation Manual (MOM) is being used by 18 Provincial Association of Local Councils to manage grants and its membership fees.
  • The government approved the request to increase the contribution of membership fees for Provincial Association of District, Municipality, Khan, Commune and Sangkat (PADMKCS) from a plate rate of 300,000 Riels (Aprox. 75USD) per D/M/K/C/S per year to 2% of total annual DMKCS administrative budget component (excluded salary). In return, the PADMKCS increased its contribution to NLC from 15% to 20% of their collected membership fee. This resulted in increasing of annual membership fees for NLC from USD18,000/annum up to USD50,000/annum. While, the membership fee for NACPC was approved at 0.3% of Capital and Provincial budget which equal to approximately USD50,000/annum.
  • The capacity of the associations (NACPC, NLC and PADMKCS) and their secretariat has been improved by mutual learning, knowledge sharing, and exchange of information among Cambodian councilors, and between Cambodian councilors and councilors from other developing countries.
  • The capacity of Provincial Association of District, Municipality, Khan, Commune and Sangkat (PADMKCS) has been strengthened through grant implementation that provided capacity building opportunities for these associations to enhance the roles and responsibilities of councilors for project management, for gender mainstreaming, and for financial management and accounting of their membership fees and donors’ fund.
  • The Sub-National Administration Councils and citizens interests have been promoted through I-SAF implementation. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between NCDDS and ASAC-S was signed to implement I-SAF in three provinces.  ASAC-S core staff enhanced partnership with NCDDS in order to promote the I-SAF implementation.
  • The concept of gender equity, equality and gender mainstreaming had been promoted through technical advisory and provided inputs in every aspects of the implementation of the project—strategic development for the associations, gender roadmaps for ASAC, dynamic gender action plans for promoting gender equity and social inclusiveness in local governance and politics, advocacy activities (lobby meetings) with key influent political parties and stakeholders for improving the proportion of women councilors, strengthening gender capacity and awareness to leaders, members, relevant stakeholders of NACPC, NLC, PALCs including the female candidate for commune and sangkat election. e.g. an increase of the number of female Commune Chief from 95 in 2012 to 128 in 2017.
  • The Gender Advocacy Strategy and its three Years Gender Action Plans was developed and endorsed by the associations.  
  • The project helped the associations and theirs Committee of Women and Children’s Affairs to be ready with gender awareness and capacity building to the councils’ members, therefore a Gender Training Manual is developed and It was justified to the actual context of local governance for Cambodia, and the Capacity of the Committee of capacity Building Committees were provided for the implementing of the manual.

Contributing donors

Contributing donors Amount
EU US$2,002,401.81
UNDP Core Fund US$1,412,439.99

Project background

Cambodia has embarked on the de-centralization and de-concentration reform since 1990's with two significant laws put in place in 2001 (Law on Commune Sangkat Administrative Management) and in 2008 (Law on Administrative Management of the Capital, Provinces, Municipalities, Districts and Khans – Organic Law). Commune/Sangkat councilors directly elected by the people, together with councilors at the capital, provinces, municipalities, districts and Khans levels that they elect are key to Cambodia’s democratic and local development. Yet, in order for them to serve and to represent the voice and interests of their constituencies, they needed to improve their capacities and to establish themselves as a competent and reliable local institution with a potential to boost and sustain the progress of Cambodia’s decentralization and de-concentration reform.

Since 2006, local associations of councilors have been established and their membership has been expanding; by 2015, the National League of Commune and Sangkat Councils (NLC/S, established in 2006) and the National Association of Capital and Provincial councils (NACPC, established in 2013) merged their secretariats as one, the General Secretariat of the Associations of Sub-National Administration Councils (ASAC-S), not only for operational efficiency but more importantly for an effective advocacy of the interest of their members and citizens at provincial and national platforms. 

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