Annex 3

Field Study in the Prey Veng Province

Government officials at the local level, i.e., provinces, districts, and communes, play critical roles in managing and implementing the programs studied. Teachers at local schools and medical and health specialists at local hospitals and health centers provide public services directly to people. What are their views on the programs and the sectors studied? What are the challenges they face in implementing the programs and providing service delivery? What could aid coordination do to assist their work?

To obtain insights into those questions, the study team visited Prey Veng Province during 22-25 October and 11 November 2003, and interviewed government officials at provincial and district offices, commune councilors, teachers, hospital and health center staff, and advisors to some donor-funded projects. The team was able to meet with around fifty people during the field study, including the Governor of the Province and the heads of Provincial Departments in Education and Health (see Annex 1 for the list of interviewees). Prey Veng Province was selected because it has the third largest population (929,000) and the third highest percentage of the poor (54%) among 24 provinces and municipalities, and it was recommended by senior government officials at the central level and foreign experts in the respective sectors and cross-cutting issues studied. This field study focused on Education SWAp, Health SWiM and Local Governance Seila. TCAP is not included because it focuses primarily on the central government.

Key findings which are particularly important to our respective case studies are summarized below. It should be noted that the findings of the field study are only indicative, and should not be generalized to the whole province or country, as they reflect interviews with only limited number of people in one province.


Basic information about education services in Prey Veng Province

  • The Prey Veng Provincial Education Office covers 12 districts.

  • In Prey Veng Province, there are 92 pre-schools, 485 primary schools, 52 junior high schools, 18 highschools, and 2 pedagogy schools.

  • There are 270,000 students and 7,600 teachers (primary and secondary levels all together) in theprovince.

  • The external partners in the province identified by the team include: UNICEF (the Expanded LearningOpportunities for School and Child Readiness Project for school construction and capacity building forplanning and monitoring); ADB (PAP program for Education); and World Vision.


The study team visited provincial and district education offices and schools and interviewed key persons at each place. The key findings are summarized below.


  • The provincial office has participated in the provincial workshop in connection with the annual ESSP Review since 2000. In particular, the provincial office prepared a provincial report and submitted it to the ESSP 2003.

  • The strategy presented in the ESSP does not seem to be fully shared by district education offices. In fact, one of the district officers confessed that he knows ESSP by name, but is not very familiar to its contents.

  • It was difficult to measure the impact of the SWAp process to the district level. However, the Priority Action Programs (PAPs) initiated in line with the SWAp process have brought about some positive changes locally (detailed in the next section).

PAP and public financial management

  • About 3 billion riels were allocated to Prey Veng Province under the PAP 2002. By the time of the field study, 90% of the total amount of PAP 2002 had been released from the provincial treasury to the provincial BMC. The PAP 2003 had not been released yet.

  • The release of the PAP fund tends to be late and irregular. However, once the fund reaches the provincial BMC, the subsequent distribution through district BMCs to spending units is usually smooth (according to a provincial education officer).

  • The PAP fund is typically divided into more than 10 installments throughout the academic year. For example, the Prey Veng Krong Primary School received the first payment of the 2002 PAP in early October 2002, and received 90% of the total amount by the latest or the tenth installment in October 2003.

  • The delay of the PAP release and its irregular payment has had some influence at the school level. Due to the uncertainty of the payment, schools are not able to develop annual plans (according to a district education officer interviewed). In order to cope with the delayed payment of PAP, schools have implemented various measures, e.g. borrowing money, buying teaching materials on credit, etc.

  • Despite the problems mentioned above, all the interviewees shared a positive view of the impact of the PAP. The foremost is that parents are now exempt from the payment of entrance and examination fees to schools as a consequence of the PAP introduction in 2000.

  • School directors interviewed had difficulty in fully understanding the PAP management process, especially its expenditure reporting to the district office. They had received training for its management, but felt that it was not enough to understand the changes brought about by the new initiative.

  • There is no formal audit system for expenditures at spending units. However, some schools have school support committees comprised of key community members such as school directors, monks and parents of students. In those schools, the committees are involved in monitoring the PAP expenditures and the preparation of reports.


Basic information of the health service in Prey Veng Province

  • The Prey Veng Provincial Health Office covers 7 operational districts (ODs).

  • There are 7 referral hospitals and 90 health centers within the province.

  • Among the 7 ODs, 4 ODs receive funds under the ADD scheme (there is no PAP program).

  • The external partners in the province identified by the study team include: UNICEF (capacity buildingof the Provincial Health Department and OD offices on planning and monitoring); ADB (throughHSSP); ECHO (immunization funded by UNICEF); and CORD.


The study team visited the provincial health office and OD offices as well as health facilities and interviewed key people at each place. The key findings are summarized below.

Health Sector Strategic Plan (HSP) and SWiM

  • The HSP and the new planning manual have enabled the provincial and OD offices to develop annual plans in a way that budget and activities are linked with clear targets to be achieved in the province. Costed planning will be introduced at referral hospitals and health centers from 2004.

  • Despite the improved planning process mentioned above, there are still capacity gaps in the areas of planning and to a greater extent of monitoring at the provincial and OD levels. In order to address the identified management capacity gaps, UNICEF has been supporting capacity development of management staff at the provincial and district levels in Prey Veng Province.

Public financial management

  • The release of the ADD fund tends to be delayed. In fact, the release rate was still around 50% at the time of the field study in October.

  • However, staff of the OD offices perceived that the impact of the delay is limited because the financial gaps accruing from the late release of the fund are usually bridged by user fees collected at health facilities.

  • On the other hand, one of the OD offices which are not supported by ADD reported that not only do they not receive the ADD fund under Ch.13, they do not even receive operational funds under Ch.11. They were not sure about the reason why the provincial office does not allocate funds to their district, but suspected that it might be because the district had been enjoying financial support under an ADB project until 2002.

Pharmaceutical supplies

  • As far as Prey Veng Province is concerned, the delay of pharmaceutical supplies was not very serious. This finding is inconsistent with the information shared at the central level. The study team was informed that on some occasions drugs did not arrive in the provincial office as scheduled, but the delay was rare and usually within an acceptable range for health facilities.

  • Other problems around pharmaceutical supplies reported include (i) occasional mislabeling of drugs, and (ii) provisions of expired or nearly expired products by the Central Medical Store.

Local Governance Seila

The study team visited Prey Veng Province to deepen their understanding of how the Seila program works at the provincial level, and to obtain views and opinions from the people who are involved in the program at the field level. The team was able to meet with Partnership for Local Governance (PLG) advisors and Executive Committee (ExCom) staff, and with Commune Councilors and Villagers in Damrei Puon Commune. The team was also able to observe a District Integration Workshop (DIW) at Peam Ro District held on 11 November 2003.

The Seila Program started its operation in Prey Veng in 2000. As in the other provinces, the Program is executed by the Executive Committee (ExCom) under the Provincial Rural Development Committee (PRDC) with support of Partnership for Local Governance (PLG) advisory services. Under ExCom, Seila program activities are managed by the Contract and Administration Unit (CAU,) the Financial Unit (FU), the Technical Service Unit (TSU) and the Local Administration Unit (LAU) (see Box A3-1 for the roles and responsibilities of each unit). The numbers of staff in the respective units are 8 for the CAU, 4 for the FU, 14 for the TSU, and 57 for the LAU. The LAU consists of 16 staff of the Provincial Facilitation Team (PFT) and 41 staff of the District Facilitation Team (DFT). An ExCom permanent member serves as secretary of ExCom. A provincial senior advisor under the PLG supervises overall activities, and a PLG advisor is attached to each managing Unit. All advisors under PLG in Prey Veng are Cambodian nationals.

Capacity of ExCom managing units and Commune Councils

ExCom managing units: To the question about the capacity building of ExCom management units, a majority of the ExCom staff interviewed reported that they had gained skills and knowledge from PLG advisors, had become able to manage some 60% of program activities by themselves, and would acquire more skills and knowledge by the end of the program in 2005. However, they also said that they were not fully confident whether they could manage the entire program by themselves after 2005.

Capacity of Commune Councils: According to the LAU staff interviewed, the capacity of commune councils varies depending on the communes, but that in general their basic knowledge of local administration and management is very low. Commune councilors need more time and support for gaining experience, skills, and knowledge to manage commune council activities by themselves. Also, the FU staff interviewed reported that the capacity of commune clerks was extremely low and they needed more training.

Damrei Puon Commune

The Damrei Puon Commune implements 8 small irrigation projects funded by Seila, for which villagers contribute their labor. The commune councilors interviewed reported that they were revising the five-year Commune Development Plan and the three-year Commune Investment Program. Following the Seila’s standard procedure for commune planning, priority activities of the commune were selected by the Planning and Budget Committee (PBC) under the Commune Council. The PBC consists of commune councilors, village heads and representatives of women from each village.

The commune councilors and villagers reported that the problems of the region had been flood and drought in rainy and dry seasons, respectively. To address this chronic problem, they decided to build irrigation and drainage facilities as the priority activities of the commune. They also reported that road reconstruction and maintenance was also important to transport their products to markets. Seasonal immigration to the urban areas has been a common practice of villagers to earn supplementary incomes. Their income has been reportedly reduced in half in the last year due to a drought. The commune councilors and villagers were planning to apply for WFP’s Food for Work Program, which had been explained at the District Integration Workshop (DIW) under Seila (described in the next section). The PRASAC (an EU project) and an NGO called PNKS have been supporting the commune since 1990s.

The villagers interviewed reported that people came up with more ideas now than the time before the commune council had been established. The commune councilors appreciated the training provided by Seila. They expressed confidence that they could manage the commune council by themselves within a few years.


Box A3-1 Roles and Responsibilities of Four Managing Units under ExCom

Contract and Administration Unit (CAU)
The CAU operates under the overall supervision of Provincial Planning Department. Its overall responsibilities are as follows:

  • Assisting the ExCom in finalizing the annual Work Plan and Budget.

  • Reviewing contracts and ensuring implementation of the contracts.

  • Monitoring and evaluation of the Annual Work Plan and Budget and preparation of progress reports.

  • Managing ExCom inventory, personnel contracts, procurement and bidding, and authorizing payments less than$1000.

Financial Unit (FU)
The FU operates under the overall supervision of the Provincial Department of the MEF, managed by one full-time Chief from the Provincial Department of MEF and one full-time Deputy Chief from the Provincial Treasury. The FU provides financial services to the Governor, ExCom, implementing Departments, and Commune Councils (CC) for the implementation of approved Work Plan and Budgets.

Technical Support Unit (TSU)
The TSU operates under the overall supervision of the Provincial Department of the Ministry of Rural Development. The roles and responsibilities of the TSU are as follows:

  • Assist Commune Councils (CCs) in carrying out project studies, preparing project designs, estimating costs,andpreparing project proposals for inclusion in CCs’ Development Plan and Budget.

  • Assist the CCs in managing competitive bidding and procurement contracts, monitoring and supervising theimplementation of investment activities, and certifying quantities and quality of work implemented by contractors.

  • Advisory service to CCs on matters related to the implementation of investment activities.

  • Provide technical support for rural infrastructure projects.

Local Administration Unit
The LAU operates under the overall supervision of the Provincial Unit of Local Administration, the Ministry of Interior. The LAU has the following overall responsibilities:

  • Coordinating the implementation of specific training programs and ongoing capacity building of CCs.

  • Monitoring and evaluating the performance and capacity of CCs to manage the implementation of the regulatoryframework, to effectively administer the communes, and to promote socio-economic development of the communes.

  • Promoting effective collaboration and partnership between CCs and provincial department, NGOs, donors and theprivate sector.

  • Maintaining databases of, and preparing, reports for submission through the ExCom and the governor to theappropriate national authorities.

The LAU consists of the Provincial Facilitation Team (PFT) and the District Facilitation Team (DFT). PFT staff members are responsible for implementing provincial level activities of the LAU and supervising DFT. Each DFT staff covers 3~4 communes to facilitate CCs’ activities.

Disbursement of Commune Fund

According to the Seila Program’s annual budget and work plan, the transfer of Commune Funds to the provincial treasury is to have been completed by September each year. As of the end October 2003 in which the research team visited the Province, only 50% of the Commune Funds were transferred to the provincial treasury. The government reported that this delay was due to the shortage of national revenues to the government. However, commune councilors’ salaries were paid for 8 months.

District Integration Workshop (DIW)

The team had the opportunity to observe the DIW at Peam Ro District in the Prey Veng Province. The Workshop started at 8:30am and finished around 11:30am. The procedure of the DIW described below followed the Seila guidelines for the DIW process. The representatives of all communes in Peam Ro District reported program performance in the past and proposed their high priority activities for the next year; Then, the provincial departments of line ministries and NGOs participating in the Workshop sought to identify which activities they could support. The main activities proposed by the communes included, but were not limited to: (i) irrigation facility developments; (ii) installation of drainage pipes across the roads; (iii) rehabilitation of the roads; (iv) school construction; (v) the digging of drinking water wells; and (vi) installation of toilets to each house. The PLG’s provincial senior advisor who attended the Workshop reported that the participation of line department and NGOs to the DIW was not as active as that in other districts in the Prey Veng Province. In fact, only five line departments (i.e., provincial departments of Rural Development, Health, Education, Social Affairs, and Women and Veterans Affairs) and two NGOs (Care and World Vision) participated in the Workshop. It was reported that not all the NGOs working in the District participated.


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