A Stronger Ministry of Agriculture in Afghanistan (Infographic)

October 30, 2017–After four years, the Capacity Building and Change Management II Program in Afghanistan has concluded. See what we accomplished in this handy infographic.


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In Cambodia, Organizations Get Closer to Achieving their Missions

Borey Koy, executive director of MediaOne (Photo: MediaOne)

With robust training, a Cambodian NGO is transformed into a leader

Cambodia has struggled for political stability for 50 years, and in that context, the free flow of information and the ability to have your voice heard is critically important. Media for Education and Development in Action is a non-partisan, independent Cambodian organization that empowers communities by giving a voice to underrepresented people works to ensure that all Cambodians have equal access to information.

Cambodia continues to develop’the poverty rate is steadily declining’but the country still faces challenges and NGOs such as MEDIA One, as it is known, play a critical role in advancing Cambodia’s human, economic and overall development.

MEDIA One is exactly the kind of local organization that USAID seeks to partner with on development projects, and MEDIA One has been eager to design and lead activities that directly contribute to its own mission.

But first, the organization needed to develop a better understanding of good financial management and oversight to meet the agency’s regulations for managing and implementing programs.

‘As a small local NGO, there has traditionally been little opportunity for our staff receive training,’ said Michelle Williams, a program advisor at MEDIA One.

“We now feel better prepared to implement our exciting new program.”

MEDIA One connected with the Capacity Building of Cambodia’s Local Organizations (CBCLO) Program, whose goal is to strengthen the skills of local organizations to preprare them to partner with USAID and to work more effectively in service of their missions.

Over the past two years, staff members at MEDIA One have attended 15 training sessions and received 22 additional hours of technical assistance from the program on a variety of topics.

‘The program provides assistance to our senior management team and helps us to improve our policies and regulations,’ said Executive Director Borey Koy.

With new skills and processes in place, MEDIA One operates more effectively and is better able to navigate the USAID’s challenging regulatory environment.

‘Our organization recently received its first direct funding from USAID,’ Williams said, ‘and we now feel better prepared to implement our exciting new program.’


CBCLO helps Cambodian nonprofit and non-governmental organizations strengthen their management capacity and understanding of USAID rules and regulations. Since the program began in 2014, it has provided assistance to several hundred NGOs in Cambodia.

This story is made possible with the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the sole responsibility of IESC and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

Building Stronger Local Organizations in Cambodia

For Cambodians returning to their native country, starting over is an extraordinary challenge. Few of those returning have much, if any, knowledge of the local language and customs; even fewer have the necessary resources. The Returnee Integration Support Center, or RISC, was established in 2009 as a locally owned and led organization dedicated to helping returnees become independent, productive members of Cambodian society and ensuring their long-term integration into the community.

Villa Kim (left), co-director of RISC, received management training from the CBCLO Program. RISC has now established robust management policies and practices so that it can better serve Cambodia’s returnee population.

RISC is staffed by a small, dedicated team of four people. In 2014, RISC was identified to receive funding from the USAID mission in Cambodia; however, with no written policies, procedures, or electronic accounting system, RISC was ineligible for funding.

The organization began working with the Capacity Building of Cambodia’s Local Organizations (CBCLO) Program to improve RISC’s financial, administrative, procurement, M&E, and organizational management systems.

Since then, RISC staff members have attended four trainings, including courses on USAID allowable and unallowable costs, QuickBooks for NGOs, concept note development, and M&E indicators. In addition, CBCLO staff provided nearly 80 hours of direct mentorship and support to RISC to develop finance and procurement policies. As a result of the training and support, RISC adopted QuickBooks accounting software to accurately track expenses.

The results were immediate and significant. RISC is now able to generate financial reports that allow them to better understand their financial needs and resources.

‘[Program implementer] IESC helped RISC develop items that RISC never had before: an internal policy, financial and procurement policies and guidance to create forms for financial use,’ said Villa Kim, RISC’s co-director.

As a result of this support, RISC is a stronger organization that can be sustained into the future. What is more, RISC can capitalize on these improvements to scale its activities for Cambodian returnees.

This story is made possible with the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the sole responsibility of IESC and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

Better Data, Bigger Impact

Cambodian organizations are unlocking the power of data through better data collection and analysis.
Program M&E Manager Leakhena Ith delivering an M&E training.

In the digital era, the old saying ‘knowledge is power’ might better be rendered as ‘information is power.’ But as local NGOs in Cambodia are learning, even that is only partly correct. Accurate information is a first step to driving change. Data collection and data analysis, through effective monitoring and evaluation (M&E), are vital management tools for assessing organizational effectiveness and improving decision-making. For Cambodian NGOs, greater effectiveness and better decision-making lead to smart development interventions that yield greater impact.

The USAID-funded Capacity Building of Cambodia’s Local Organizations (CBCLO) Program is helping local organizations unlock the power of data through a series of M&E training courses designed to teach organizations how to set up M&E systems and utilize the information to improve their operations. The program has trained 54 local organizations on M&E topics to help them refine their data collection and analysis techniques.

Seang Set is responsible for the monthly collection and compilation of information from field staff at the Environmental Protection and Development Organization (EPDO). He observed that ‘most of the field staff do not know what is useful information and how to record information. They spend a lot of time writing narrative reports and I spend hours going through one report to find the needed data.’

“I am now able to quickly get the exact information that I need
. . .[allowing me] to work with the field staff on new strategies to improve implementing the activities.”

‘ Seang Set, Environmental Protection and Development Organization

Over the course of the training series, Set learned about general M&E principles, effective indicators, and how to generate an M&E plan. After the training, CBCLO provided direct assistance to Set’s organization to help them design an M&E data collection system that is tailored to their specific needs.

‘EPDO’s new reporting template is a good method of data collection. The field staff was trained on the new template and how to fill out the form. I can now spend less time on this task and am now able to quickly get the exact information I need,’ Set said. ‘It also allows me to work with the field staff on new strategies to improve implementing the activities.’

Empowered by improved M&E practices, EPDO now has better reports with more relevant data and information from the field. Set can now spend his time on data quality checks, increasing the accuracy and effectiveness of the process. And EPDO’and many other local organizations’can utilize better M&E processes to streamline and enhance their M&E activities and design creative solutions to meet Cambodia’s needs.

The five-year CBCLO Program (2014-2019) aims to strengthen the institutional capacity of local organizations in the areas of financial, administrative, procurement, M&E, and organizational management. The program’s ultimate objective is to improve the ability of local organizations to effectively implement USAID activities. Funded by USAID through the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA), the program is implemented by IESC with sub-partner Kanava International.

Unstable Ground: A Volunteer Helps with China’s Sinkhole Problem (Photo Essay)


August 1, 2014 — IESC is delivering a new volunteer program in China. Experienced industry experts go for short-term consultations to advise Chinese organizations on global best practices and standards. Among our first group of experts, who will soon return to the U.S., is Ted Smith, a sinkhole expert from Florida, who traveled to Shandong and Shanxi Provinces to assess and advise on China’s significant sinkhole problem.

In Zibo, Shandong Province, volunteer sinkhole expert Ted Smith visited four abandoned mining sites
and a well-drilling site used for multiple purposes, including, mapping, monitoring, and eventually
drinking and irrigation water supply. Photo: Andy Sun.
In Taiyuan, Shanxi, Ted Smith gets a fuller understanding of understanding of the extent of the
region’s sinkhole problem. At a land subsiding site near an abandoned mining area, there is a
significant crack on the entire slope of a mountain and the rupture of a roadway along with
several sinkholes. Photo: Andy Sun
China’s sinkhole problem has made some areas uninhabitable and required the resettlement of entire villages.
Ted Smith met with local senior officials at one such resettlement to talk about the programs they have implemented
in the past decade to help those former villagers. Photo: Andy Sun
Ted Smith visits the Shanxi Geological Museum. Photo: Andy Sun