Diakonia - People change the world


In Cambodia Diakonia supports a variety of local and national NGOs, with a strong focus on human rights, democracy, gender equality and land rights. Some of the partners are large and well-known national NGOs located in the capital Phnom Penh, while others are located in rural areas.


Young population and lack of infrastructure

The country suffered traumatically from wars and the genocide of the Khmer Rouge, where an estimated 1.7 million people perished in the years 1975-1979 alone. Today Cambodia has a population of 15 million (2012). About one third of the population is under 15 years.

The poverty-ridden countryside of Cambodia lacks infrastructure, thereby requiring considerable investments to improve basic needs.

Signs that the democratic space is decreasing

Cambodia experienced a significant economic growth during the last decade, driven largely by an expansion in the garment sector, agriculture, and tourism. But development took a general downturn in 2009 due to the global financial crisis, which affected all sectors in society. At the same time, tensions in society increased, and there is a general view that the democratic space is rapidly decreasing. Diakonia plays an important role as a bridge-builder between partner organizations by arranging opportunities for organizations to share and learn from each other.

Focus on land rights

Cambodia's development has been accompanied by widespread land grabbing perpetrated against poor farmers and communities, as well as in urban areas. Land is converted to large plantations of sugar, rubber and other industrial products mainly for export. Approximately half of the country's arable land has been appropriated by agro-businesses and mining companies. Hundreds of thousands of people have been evicted from their land in recent years.

With this situation, Diakonia works together with our partner organizations LICADHO and Equitable Cambodia to advocate for people's land rights and access to natural resources. Much of the protests are however met with force by the police and military.

Our achievements

All Diakonia partners in Cambodia are human rights NGOs working directly with communities. This includes work with para-legal support and work to achieve justice for victims of violations. 

Through the work of Diakonia and our partner organizations, hundreds of thousands of people have become aware of their human rights. By encouraging people to organize themselves, a successful contribution to the general development of the community has been made. 

As a result of the support from our partner organizations, people affected by land grabbing have successfully defended their rights. Women are the ones standing at the forefront of those struggles and increasingly gained leadership in their communities.

Read more about our work in Cambodia