Pact arrived in Cambodia in 1991 just after the signing of the Paris Peace Accord with an initial objective of building the capacity of local organizations working with some of the neediest groups: the poor, women and war victims. Pact also encouraged the formation of new Cambodian-American organizations to provide needed services including rural enterprise development, community leadership, women’s social and economic improvement, psychosocial counseling, and village maternal and child health.
Pact provided emerging Cambodian and Cambodian-American organizations with subgrants to run programs and cover basic operating expenses, supporting them with training and technical assistance to strengthen project and financial management skills. Today the Cambodian NGO sector numbers over 1,000 local organizations.
As local NGOs began to mature, Pact helped them to develop critical self-assessment skills to design program strategies, define long-term visions, and examine the impact of their programs on target populations. Pact also encouraged organizations to form networks and coalitions to incubate ideas and share lessons learned.
In addition, Pact was one of the first organizations to fund Buddhist NGO’s, recognizing that they could play an important role in development. In 1997, when political unrest led to the proposed shut down of all direct U.S. assistance, Pact led a coalition effort that successfully lobbied the US Congress to keep money flowing to local NGOs.
Pact continues to use its resources to fill strategic development gaps. Rather than directly implementing programs, Pact makes its contribution to Cambodia by strengthening and supporting local institutions run by and for Cambodians. This support has been expressed in a variety of services including assessment of local institutions’ organizational and accounting capacities, technical consultations, financial support through subgrants and trainings, facilitating workshops for building capacity of staff members, organizing and facilitating working groups, program and sector assessments, program development, and managing programs involving numerous NGO partners.