In 2009, Oxfam began helping Cambodian citizens promote better governance in the emerging mining and oil sector, so that affected communities would be better informed, consulted, and given a chance to reduce harm and maximize the benefits of mining.
In 2013, we commissioned a program review of the first four years of work in Cambodia. The review included an external evaluation with input from stakeholders.
What did we learn?
The evaluation showed that Oxfam has played a central role in helping establish two important coalitions on extractive industries: Cambodians for Resource Revenue Transparency and the Extractive Industries Social and Environmental Impact Network. These citizen groups fill a gap at the national level; they have shifted the public discourse and gained traction with the Ministry of Environment.
In 2009, when we developed Oxfam’s program strategy, we anticipated an influx of Western multinational mining companies because the Cambodian government had already granted a number of exploration permits to large corporations in rapid succession. Instead, over the past four years, the increase has been mostly in small-scale Asian operators. These operators have produced little revenue flow, which has reduced pressure on the government to address policy and regulatory gaps. The notable change during this period has been a rise in government land concessions to companies—especially rubber—making mining a peripheral issue for most communities. The rate of growth and the amount of land in concession now threatens the livelihoods of people throughout the most biodiverse and remote provinces of Cambodia.
Based on these findings, we are refining our strategy—building on the foundation that Oxfam has laid for ongoing action. We are exploring engaging with smaller Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese mining operators; helping local partners on a wider range of land concession issues; and broadening our focus from the Cambodian government to a regional approach across the “development triangle”—the resource-rich border region between Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos.