NYU Wagner team visits Cambodia to help in assessment of UNCDF LoCAL’s new phase
  • March 10, 2016

Takeo province, which is in the southwest of Cambodia and shares an international border with Veit Nam, could be considered the “last mile” in local development. Also known as the “cradle of the Khmer civilization,” the province is subdivided into 10 districts, 100 communes and 1117 villages, with many of its population depending on subsistence farming, fishery, rice and fruit cropping to live. The rural household depends especially on the province’s rich agriculture and its related subsectors.

This is why four graduate students from a New York University (NYU) Wagner Capstone team conducted a field mission in Cambodia from January 10th to January 23rd, 2016 in Takeo and the capital, Phnom Penh. The aim of the field mission was to assess the constraints and opportunities to support the creation of a new phase of UNCDF’s LoCAL programme, which would integrate revenue-generating projects as well as private sector financing. The team investigated the potential to build upon existing LoCAL investments with these revenue-generating and private-financing aspects.

To gain a deeper understanding of the needs, capacities and desires of stakeholders, the team conducted several interviews in Takeo Province and Phnom Penh. In Takeo, the NYU team visited Daunkeo Municipality and Bati District to see LoCAL project sites, met with provincial, district and commune officials, LGCC II team members, and engaged with farmers and beneficiaries. In Phnom Penh, the team held a number of small group meetings and interviews to acquire an understanding of social enterprise efforts in Cambodia, access to finance and existing activities, which could be supported or replicated within a new LoCAL phase.

Iliana Maria Paul, an NYU Wagner graduate student, said: “We feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with UNCDF's LoCAL programme in Cambodia. For most of us, it was our first time in the country and we enjoyed getting to know Cambodia's people and culture. Meeting with individuals from many different sectors gave us a variety of perspectives and we left each meeting feeling excited about new opportunities for LoCAL. Now that we are back in New York, we are working on putting the pieces of the puzzle together so we can make recommendations for how to innovate climate change adaptation financing at the local level in Cambodia and beyond.”

This collaboration between UNCDF and the graduate student team is part of an advanced graduate capstone project in international development at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service. UNCDF has asked the NYU team to develop a methodology for LoCAL to leverage private investment and innovative finance, in order to establish local revenue-generating climate adaptation interventions. The expected outcomes of the team’s field mission will be used to develop recommendations to build on the UNCDF LoCAL model, with a focus on Takeo province.