CEDT is an experienced community engagement organisation and their primary focus is to empower the poor communities in Cambodia. They work with local people in urban and rural environments. CEDT empower communities by:
- building their solidarity so that they can establish an organisational structure;
- training and coaching the community members in technical skills like data collection, community savings, environmental awareness (including co-management), and housing and infrastructure design;
- advising people of their legal rights; and,
- opening up dialogue with the government authorities and encouraging collaborative solutions.
One of the sectors that CEDT work in is land rights. Forced evictions and insecure tenure continue to be one of Cambodia’s most pressing human rights problems. While the legal framework does exist, it provides little protection to the thousands who face harassment, intimidation and violent eviction from the land they have been living peacefully on for years. Many organisations have tried to stop the evictions but it is difficult to negotiate with the government when the process is already under way. Instead, CEDT work to promote the community voice, build participation in the decision-making processes related to their challenges, and open up communication directly between the government and communities so that they can find solutions together.
Recently, CEDT has been involved in developing a co-management concept that would see the protection of the Prey Lang forest being implemented by the communities that live there. Currently the forest is being destroyed by illegal loggers and other developments, and the government do not have the resources to effectively manage the entire area which is about 500,000 Ha. By working with the community members and the government collaboratively, CEDT is establishing positive relationships so that a mutually beneficial solution can be decided. This would see the local people receiving recognition of their land rights and give them the legal authority to help protect the forest from illegal activities.
This participatory method underpins CEDT’s mission when working with community members around Cambodia. CEDT’s experience has shown that when communities are organized, aware of their rights, have proper documentation and settlement maps, and have stronger relationships with the government authorities, then there is a better chance of achieving sustainable solutions.