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Community Contribution

Adaptive Management and Openness Guide the Redirection of the USAID Greening Prey Lang Activity in Cambodia

Matthew Edwardsen
2022 CLA Case Competition Finalist Ribbon

Cambodia has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world. Within that context, the USAID Greening Prey Lang (GPL) Activity strives to strike a balance between economic development, conservation of natural ecosystems, and rural development. Technical assistance provided by the Activity addresses the drivers of deforestation by supporting improved law enforcement, alternative livelihoods, and stronger local and national governance systems.

Near the end of the third year of implementation, it became evident that one core aspect of implementation - improving government capacity on law enforcement - was not effective as evidenced by increased deforestation and a shrinking space for civil society engagement. This occurred despite significant technical assistance provided by GPL and advocacy on key issues by USAID/Cambodia and the U.S. Embassy. This resulted in USAID/Cambodia initiating a contractual redirection of GPL activities away from direct support to Cambodian government counterparts. Guided by an organizational culture of openness and adaptive management, the GPL team and USAID/Cambodia developed a new approach anchored by direct grant support and capacity-building for 48 community-based organizations in the fourth and fifth year of activity implementation. This approach allowed GPL to maintain collaboration and buy-in from the Cambodian government and has resulted in a shift in power dynamics at the local level towards community-based organizations. Other donors in Cambodia have taken notice of this new approach and are leveraging GPL’s model to provide funding opportunities directly to community-based organizations.

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