Morodok is a local non-government organization (NGO) working in the coastal communities of the Kompong Som Bay region of Cambodia. We work to improve living conditions, strengthen solidarity, and create ownership for poor people living in the area.

Morodok operates in five target districts serving 14 communes, 45 villages and nearly 15,000 households. Our major goal is to promote and strengthen community group networks at the commune, district and regional levels. We work alongside local communities, specifically with small-holder farmers and women, to secure their rights in terms of land, forests and fisheries.

An essential part of our work is natural resource management. Morodok concentrates on building the capacity of women and youth, specifically in leadership and decision-making.

In 1997, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) started the Integrated Sustainable Livelihood Program (ISLP), based in Sre Ambel District, Koh Kong Province. At that time, no other NGOs were working in this sparsely populated insecure rural area.

The initial program offered a wide range of services, including agriculture, irrigation, credit, health and educational programs, however in 2001 AFSC/ISLP narrowed its focus to concentrate on assisting communities manage and protect their natural resources and improve their livelihood options.

AFSC believed that initiatives for change were most sustainable when inspired and managed by local leadership, so together with the program staff, AFSC developed a transition plan to build the capacity and create the structures necessary for the program to operate independently. By 2003, ISLP was completely staffed by Cambodians and in 2004 it adopted financial monitoring tools to enable staff to manage their own budget.

To prepare for full localization, in 2008 AFSC/ISLP organized a number of internal workshops for ISLP staff to explore how to become a local organization, and a 3-year localization plan was prepared. Staff developed their future vision and mission, and began a transition process in which the program developed its identity, policies, by-laws, governance structures and organizational capacity.

In April 2011, the ISLP team registered as a local NGO under the name Morodok. In Khmer, Morodok means ‘heritage’, ‘inheritance’ or ‘legacy’. According to Morodok’s by-laws, it is also an acronym for a phrase meaning “ways towards progress with transparency for inheritance of the next generation”.

AFSC handed over the program to Morodok in October 2011, with a handover ceremony in Sre Ambel on 5 October 2011. In the year following the handover, AFSC continued to provide advice and technical support (in addition to a small grant) to maintain a smooth transition and remain engaged with Morodok. AFSC’s financial support finished at the end of 2012. After carefully planned transition, AFSC stepped back, allowing for the ‘birth’ of the fully localized NGO, Morodok.

This Stories of Change book documents the achievements of rural villagers in the region, and the transition of the program to a local NGO, Morodok. They are just a few among many stories of success that we are proud to highlight.

The project has seen villagers form interest groups and undertake small agricultural or business ventures. They organize community revolving funds to support these initiatives. Villagers also organize community groups to protect the forests and fisheries from overuse.

Now we are proud to say that villagers effectively participate in solving problems and conflicts over natural resources affecting their community and surrounding communities.