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SEACAP Programme Update: Updating Cambodia's Rural Roads Policy

Oxford Policy Management (OPM), UK, in association with IT Transport Ltd (UK) and KCEC (Cambodia), is assisting the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) in the updating of Cambodia’s Rural Roads Policy. The project is being funded by the South East Asia Community Access Programme (SEACAP) of the Department for International Development (DFID), UK.

This project, SEACAP 6, follows on from earlier work funded by DFID-SEACAP in 2005/06 to work with  MRD to develop a strategic plan for rural roads. The main purpose of the plan was to set out the long-term direction and framework for rural road development and management. An aim of the plan was to ensure a consistent and unified approach to the planning, improvement and maintenance of rural roads. The plan identified seven key issues to be addressed by MRD, the first of which was a “Detailed and clear policy for rural roads supported by a detailed action plan for pursuing the policy”. The current project is aimed at meeting this requirement.

MRD first produced a draft rural road policy in 1999, which was subsequently updated in 2002 to accommodate legal and institutional changes as a result of the early-2002 Commune Council elections. However, the policy was never formally adopted by the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC). These two earlier policy documents included a number of policy statements on several issues including rural road ownership, management responsibilities, financing road maintenance and construction, choice of technology, planning and prioritisation of maintenance works, and monitoring standards and specifications.

SEACAP 6 builds on previous work to prepare an updated policy and to amend the strategic plan as necessary to ensure consistency  between the two documents. The consultants are adopting a “process” approach to maximise ownership within MRD, so that MRD can go on to seek its adoption by the RGC. MRD has established a Working Group (WG) to steer the development of the policy, with the consultants as facilitators.

The WG started by defining the vision and goals for the policy, and then identified 21 issues grouped into four categories:

  • Planning and programming
  • Financing
  • Sustainability
  • Institutional

For each of the 21 issues, the WG has developed an objective and policy direction, and has set out the main context and issues taken into account in establishing the policy direction.

Consultation with other stakeholders has been an important feature of the process. An initial draft of the policy has been presented to, and discussed with, provincial representatives at three workshops held in different regions of Cambodia; and there has been a larger workshop in Phnom Penh with representatives from other government ministries, other public sector bodies, academia, non-governmental organisations, and the donor community.

The Vision and goals of the policy are:

Vision: Every person living in rural Cambodia will have year-round access to basic needs, economic and social facilities, services and opportunities.

Goals: To efficiently develop and manage sustainable rural transport infrastructure, modes and services. More specifically:

a. Rural access will be efficiently developed and managed to ensure optimal economic returns on investment; connectivity to higher order transport infrastructure; benefits to society; and the use of local resources.

b. Rural access will be sustainable in economic, social and environmental terms.

c. Land and water rural transport infrastructure will be complementary to improve mobility and access of rural women and men.

d. Rural transport modes and services will be affordable, equitable, dependable and safe.

It is planned that the policy approval process will be completed by the end of 2007. The availability of an official RGC rural road policy, and a MRD strategic plan will greatly help MRD in the planning, development and management of rural roads in order to achieve RGC’s priority goals of rapid poverty reduction and to make progress towards achieving the Cambodia Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

For more information about SEACAP 6 please contact:

HE Suos Kong
Secretary of State, Ministry of Rural Development

Farhad Ahmed
IT Transport


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