By Pavel Pribyl, director of FoRS, Forus’ member in Czech Republic 

In May 2019, the Czech Forum for Development Cooperation (FoRS) and the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia (CCC), kick-started a joint project with Forus’ financial support. The collaboration represented a new experience and operating environment for us. We are an NGO development platform from a rather small donor country, which only joined OECD DAC in 2013, who had the chance of working side by side with the Czech development cooperation. 

This one-year history of common activities has therefore a strong learning dimension for us. We’d like to 

highlight some crucial aspects of this cooperation: 

  1. We managed to create synergies between FoRS member organizations active in Cambodia and to start a dialogue about their needs vis a vis CCC (here’s a list of organizations: People In Need/PIN, Caritas CZ, Czech Brotherhood Church Diakonia/CBCD, Czech University of Life Sciences, Light for the World Czech branch. Some of them have registered branches in Cambodia and are also members of CCC). 
  2. A more structured communication between the above mentioned organizations and CCC was established including a meeting in Phnom Penh where potential interlinkages were discussed. One interesting outcome of the meeting was a suggestion to CCC involving the creation of a database enabling individual member organizations to identify topical focus strengthening links between Czech NGOs in Cambodia and local ones. The most relevant topics of interest for both organizations were the need of promoting an enabling environment for NGOs and that of tackling climate change. 
  3. A valuable activity integrated in the project was a 2-week study visit for FoRS director P. Pribyl and Chair of FoRS Board R. Schinko to Cambodia, which took place in Oct/Nov 2019. It helped enhance the nuances inherent the local context as well as the work of both CCC and FoRS member organizations. The trip also included field visits, lookint at the activities of 3 FoRS member organizations (PIN, Caritas, CBCD), some of them arranged in cooperation with local partners (Caritas Cambodia, Life with Dignity). 

We plan on utilizing this experience in the following ways: 

  • To have CCC involved in commenting the mid-term review of the Development Cooperation Programme between Czechia and Cambodia. 
  • To have CCC director (and maybe other CCC representatives) visiting Czechia in June 2020 in order to meet Czech officials and participate as speakers at the international conference FoRS was arranging on the potential of small Central and Eastern European donor countries to carry out meaningful development cooperation. 
  • To identify possibilities for common fundraising actions that would enable us to maintain our cooperation after the end of the project. 

Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has halted the mid-term review process and it is unclear when this will be re-opened again. Also, the visit of CCC colleagues to Czechia in June, as well as the conference, had to be cancelled. Nevertheless, we are starting to identify post-Covid 19 potential for cooperation both in the framework of the Forus’ project as well as in searching potential fundraising opportunities in order to harvest the cooperation we have managed to develop so far.