Decentralization and deconcentration

Decentralization and deconcentration are seen as “internally driven” reforms1, where the national government gradually delegates power, involving either administration or finance, to local governments to administer in their locality.

27-year-old Sun Sovath supports his family by raising chickens, in Kampong Thom, Cambodia. Photo by World Bank Photo Collection, taken on July 17, 2013. Licensed under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

27-year-old Sun Sovath supports his family by raising chickens, in Kampong Thom, Cambodia. Photo by World Bank Photo Collection, taken on July 17, 2013. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Such democratic reforms began with the lowest commune/sangkat level, to higher territorial administrations, the capital, provinces, municipalities, districts and khans. The progress of the reforms was underlined by the establishment of the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development (NCDD) in 2008.

Democratic reforms at the local government level result from the success story of a program well-known as Seila (សីលា/Foundation Stone). From 1996 to 2000, the program was introduced to some communes/sangkats within some target provinces, aiming to effectively address local needs by transferring  financial resources and decision-making powers.2 As a result, this successful pilot project paved the ways for a development of the Law on Administration of Commune/Sangkat and Law on Administration of Capital, Province, Municipality, District and Khan in 2002 and 2008, respectively.3

In May 2001, the National Committee for Support of Commune/Sankat was established.4 The committee assists communes/sangkats in implementing the Law on Administration of Commune/Sankat, and consulting the Ministry of Interior and the executive arm of government about the organization and enforcement of the decentralization policy.5 Only in 2008, after deconcentration reforms were extended to the capital city, provinces, municipalities, districts and khans, was the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development (NCDD) established to implement laws and policies on decentralization and deconcentration at all levels of  local government.6

In the last 10 years, the executive and the ministries have been gradually delegating financial and administrative authorities to local governments. Every five years, resources in the national budget are transferred to commune/sangkat funds and city/srok funds.7 In 2010, the Ministry of Commerce delegated its functions in commercial affairs for issuing licenses for commerce and service operations to targeted cities and sroks.8 In March 2015, the Ministry of Health delegated its functions in the health sector in delivering public services of the ministry to city/srok level.9 Four months later, the Ministry of Interior delegated the ministry functions in collecting statistics around revenues from public services to municipal and provincial Police Commissariats in lines with the capital city and provinces.10

One Window Service,” a mechanism for effective and timely delivery of public services, was introduced to implement some delegated administrative functions from the government and government ministries.11 The One Window Service Office should be established in each administrative structure of the districts/khans, where citizens should be able to obtain all kinds of application papers and find complete information on the delivery of all public services, service charges and other fees for all sectors.12 At the same time, “Ombudsman Office” should also be established to receive complaints and provide information of irregularities and short-coming committed by staff of the concerned district/Khan administrations to receivers of the public services.13

Despite the significant progress of the decentralization and deconcentration reforms at the local government level, some concerns remain. Insufficient public participation, lack of administrative capacity, limited gender capacity, insufficient finances, and absence of wide support at village level will impact on the reforms reaching their full potential, according to some researchers and non-governmental organizations.14

Related to decentralization and deconcentration

Last updated: 28 September 2015


  1. 1. Joakim Öjendal & Kim Sedara. “Real Democratization in Cambodia? An Empirical Review of the Potential of Decentralization Reform.” International Centre for Local Democracy (ICLD), Working Paper N09 (2011):1-2, accessed September 9, 2015,
  2. 2. Post Staff. “Seila seeks to give people self-government.” The Phnom Penh Post, September 15, 2000. Accessed on September 9, 2015, . For details, Henny Andersen. Decentralized Approach to Rural Development and Poverty Reduction. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development: 2004. Accessed on September 9, 2015,
  3. 3. COMFREL. Assessment of the Second Term of Decentralization in Cambodia: Commune Council Performance and Citizens’Participation, 2007-2012. Phnom Penh: February 2013, 3. Accessed on September 9, 2015,
  4. 4. Royal Decree No. NS/RKM/0501/175 on Establishment of National Committee for Support of Commune Sankat dated on May 18, 2001.
  5. 5. Ibid, article 3.
  6. 6. Royal Decree No. NS/RKM/1208/1429 on Establishment of National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development dated on December 31, 2008. Also, Royal Decree no. NS/RKM/1014/1174 on Modification and Supplement of New Members to National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development dated on October 6, 2014.
  7. 7. Sub-decree No. 456 on Transaction of Resources from National Budget to Commune/Sangkat Fund dated on July 11, 2013. Sub-decree No. 342 on Transaction of Resources from National Budget to City/Districts Fund dated on December 31, 2014.
  8. 8. Prakas of Ministry of Commerce No. 168 MOC/SM 2010 on Delegation of Commerce Affairs to Target Cities and Districts dated on November 10, 2010.
  9. 9. Prakas of Ministry of Health No.077 on Function Delegation of Health Sector to Sub-National Governments in Provision of Public Services of Ministry of Health dated on March 20, 2015.
  10. 10. Prakas of Ministry of Interior No. 6049 on Function Delegation of Public Services and Bonus on Citizen Statistics dated on July 01, 2015.
  11. 11. Decision of Royal Government of Cambodia No. 12 SSR on Establishment of One Window Service Office and Ombudsman Office at District/Khan Level dated on June 30, 2008.
  12. 12. Decision No. 12 SSR, article 2.
  13. 13. Ibid, article 3.
  14. 14. Ibid, supra note 1, Joakim Öjendal & Kim Sedara, 14. Ibid, supra note 3, COMFREL, 26.
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