Developing capacity for Sphere in Cambodia

05 March 2015 | Sphere Project

Kep Kannaro, CambodiaKep Kannaro, Sphere focal point in Cambodia. Photo: © Hira Sajjad/Community World Service Asia

By Marc Olivier (*)

Developing a strong network in which organisations can learn and apply Sphere humanitarian standards to improve the quality and accountability of their work is one of goals of the new Sphere focal point in Cambodia, Kep Kannaro.

In 2011, Kannaro, who is Executive Director of Partnership for Development in Kampuchea (PADEK), participated for the first time in a Sphere workshop. The training was organised by Community World Service Asia (then Church World Service-Pakistan/Afghanistan, CWS-P/A).

Shortly afterwards, Cambodia experienced massive floods. Kannaro immediately initiated an emergency response proposal integrating Sphere standards.

"It was very difficult to put into practice," admits Kannaro. "We've been blamed for not responding as quickly as we should have done because of the time taken by the assessments. However, the results were positive and the donors were really satisfied."

Convinced about the potential of the Sphere standards and the importance of enhancing the quality and accountability of humanitarian response in Cambodia, Kannaro wanted to increase the expertise of the Cambodian civil society organisations.

In 2012, he created the Cambodian Humanitarian Forum (CHF), a network of national organisations dedicated to strengthening the emergency response capacities of its members. Since its creation, CHF has organised several capacity-building activities, including Sphere standards trainings and established an information and resource-sharing centre.

CWS-P/A approached CHF this year, based on a consultative process with Cambodian organisations about the possibility of having a Sphere country focal point in Cambodia. CHF accepted this role. As its Chairperson, Kannaro took it as an opportunity to learn from his peers in the region and to transfer the acquired knowledge to his Cambodian counterparts.

Today, Kannaro is proud of the progress made by Cambodian organisations that benefited from the trainings. "Awareness has increased and standards are more integrated into their emergency response after the training given by the forum."

He also emphasises the challenges ahead. Despite the progress, he admits, "Not many organisations are aware of the Sphere standards and we also need to work closely with the government to mainstream those standards into the national disaster management system."

Kannaro is enthusiastic about how Sphere standards positively impact humanitarian response. His goal is to advocate for a proper disaster response law that would integrate them. "If we can integrate Sphere standards into the law, more NGOs will apply them." With a smile indicative of his positive outlook, he concludes, "It will be difficult, but we can make it."

Kannaro and CHF exemplify how capacity-building and an effective networking platform can strengthen the promotion and application of Sphere standards in humanitarian programmes. They also demonstrate the importance of having Sphere champions who can inspire, empower and engage organisations to improve humanitarian effectiveness and enhance the quality of aid delivery.

Kannaro was among 10 Sphere country focal points who participated in the Sphere Focal Point Forum in Bangkok, Thailand in October 2014. The event encouraged candid discussion, peer learning and joint advocacy while enabling a sense of community among Sphere practitioners across Asia.

Speaking at the event about his role as Sphere country focal point, Kannaro confided that "My vision for the future is promoting awareness and the ability to apply Sphere among CHF organisations; secondly, to work with government agencies to integrate Sphere standards into disaster management law; and thirdly, to build awareness among community members so they know about the assistance they are receiving."

(*) At the time of writing this article, Marc Olivier was Regional Development and Partnerships Manager at Community World Service Asia.


  • This article was first published by Community World Service Asia (formerly Church World Service-Pakistan/Afghanistan). This slightly edited version is published with permission. As the Sphere regional partner in Asia, Community World Service Asia supports the promotion and implementation of Sphere standards through trainings, quality and accountability deployments, technical support and events such as Sphere Focal Point Forums.

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