The early years - The Legacy of Displacement and the birth of Ockenden Cambodia
The beginning of the 1990s saw Cambodia emerge from over 30 years of conflict. With the signing of the Paris Peace Accord in 1991, the mass repatriation of hundreds of thousands of refugees proved an enormous challenge to the newly-established government. In 1997 and 1999 there was a further influx of 60,000 refugees, returning mainly from Thailand. The majority of these settled in the Western provinces of Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey and Battambang, primarily in rural areas.
With peace, macro-economic reforms were slowly introduced and the economy began to grow. But even as the country began to stabilise, in 2000 Cambodia was hit by its worst flooding in 70 years. Agricultural production was hit and the resulting oil price rises further damaged a still-fragile national economy.
Today, the Cambodian government still lacks resources and the national finances are stretched to capacity. However Cambodia is now thankfully well into its post-conflict and emergency transition and Ockenden has responded with the successful handover from Ockenden International to a newly established local NGO of the same name 'Ockenden Cambodia'. The name reflects that it is the same management and professional team heading up operations while committed to the same high standards.
Ockenden's programme in Cambodia has concentrated on communities of returnees from Thailand and on the newly settled areas where often former adversaries have been learning to live alongside each other. Increasingly from 2005 onwards, it was evident that social integration was taking place successfully and that the priority was shifting away from activities to facilitate assimilation towards broader development to reduce poverty and build human resource capacity. It was decided therefore that Ockenden's mission in Cambodia was largely accomplished. The question was should it simply withdraw or should the new development work continue, if so how?
The Ockenden approach is to work with and through local NGO partners and emerging civil society organizations. Ockenden does not directly implement projects itself. Its nine main partners, with provincial and local officials, as well as staff agreed that the best way to preserve the approach and continue to build on past work, was to create a new local NGO.
Accordingly Ockenden Cambodia was formally instituted as an independent local NGO in Cambodia in February 2007. A special ceremony took place on 2 May 2007 in Sisophon to mark its inception and the opening of its new offices. HMA David Reader presided alongside the Under-Secretary of State and Deputy Provincial Governor.
Ockenden Cambodia's Vision and Mission statement can be found here
OCKENDEN CAMBODIA operates from premises in Phnom Penh, Sisophon and Ratanakiri Village 5 in the Royal Kingdom of Cambodia and is engaged in the provision of rural development services (agroforestry, environmental mitigation, skills training, enterprise development, micro credit and community mobilization) specifically to Cambodian based vulnerable communities and the humanitarian sector.
The employees and management of Ockenden Cambodia are committed to protect the environment by means of operating a certified environmental management system. This commitment is shown as follows:
· Providing general training to enhance environmental awareness amongst all employees and by specialised training related to the environmental responsibilities of each task within the organization
· Maintaining procedures to manage environmental impacts arising from normal or accidental situations arising from operations
· Meeting and, where practicable, exceeding the requirement of all applicable environmental legislation and other environmental requirements
· Ensuring that the delivery, use and storage of chemicals, fuel and raw materials and the storage of wastes is carried out in a such a way so as to prevent pollution to air, land and water
· Making suppliers, contractors and subcontractors aware of the environmental standards required by the organisation and encouraging them to improve their own environmental performance
· Regularly review environmental performance to determine areas for ongoing improvements and setting achievable objectives and targets to secure improvements, for example in carbon footprint and waste minimisation
This policy is widely available to members of the public, is freely displayed in the company premises and obtainable from the Organisation by contacting the Environmental coordinator