Catchment Governance and Cooperation Dilemmas: A Case Study from Cambodia
Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) is a recent ideal approach to be introduced into the Cambodian national strategy on water management to ensure better planning and management of water and other related resources in a catchment. A new multi-level catchment body or a committee is soon to be established as a result. Integral to ICM is cooperation between stakeholders. This study seeks to investigate the gap between the ideal principles of ICM and the actual degree of cooperation in Cambodia to identify ways in which ICM can be effectively introduced into water policy in Cambodia within the framework of decentralisation and deconcentration (D&D) reform.
Based on a case in Kompong Chhnang, the findings of this study reveal that even though the concept of ICM is quite new in the country, Cambodia evidently has an administrative foundation that to some extent works in support of ICM in the current governance system. This study concludes that Cambodian stakeholders across different levels still largely operate independently and have few incentives to cooperate at catchment scale. Several entrenched factors that hold back cooperation include cultural traits, lack of trust, overlapping mandates, centralisation, capacity issues, and lack of available information on land demarcation, land tenure and hydrology. Our study concludes that to reduce the gap, several mechanisms are required, including: 1) aligning the ICM initiative with the current governance system; 2) building collective identity among farmers across schemes; 3) clarifying roles and responsibilities, improving trust and strengthening organisational capacity of stakeholders; 4) pushing deconcentration reform further; and 5) providing sufficient information on land demarcation, land tenure and hydrology.