Agriculture and rural development (ARD) is one of the most important sectors in Cambodia, given that the majority of the population lives and works in rural areas, along with the high poverty rate, high vulnerability and low food security status among the rural poor. In this regard, and faced by a number of extremely difficult challenges, government and development partners have made great efforts in relation to formulating and implementing policy/programming to accelerate development in the sector. The study aims to identify the major problems related to coherence among ARD policies and the processes used to ensure coherence.
The authors argue that the ARD sector is complex and multifaceted; development partners working in ARD in Cambodia usually have different priorities, arising from their own country situation analyses and assistance agendas. As a result, it leads to the fragmentation of programmes and projects, and thus reduces potential for synergy. Despite the comprehensiveness of the ARD policy framework, lack of clear prioritization blocks potential synergy that enhances the sector’s development.
On the other hand, weak intra-government coordination, institutional complexity and fragmentation create overlapping or contradictory sectoral policies which undermine development. Furthermore, the role of ARD Technical Working Groups in ensuring coordination and coherence at sectoral level are undermined by a breakdown in communication, goodwill, participation and trust between government and development partners.
The authors conclude that the coherence among different ARD initiatives is determined not only by donors’ efforts and commitment but also, by government action to tailor donors’ activities as well as improve its internal coordination for better aid utilization. Besides, they recommend that Cambodia must continuously demonstrate self-reliance with regard to developing and managing policy implementation, which can help the government achieve a coherent ARD strategy that provides real synergy in the sector.