2019 Democracy and Human Rights, Economic Development Evaluation

Building on a Foundation Stone: The Long-Term Impacts of a Local Infrastructure and Governance Program in Cambodia

Ariel BenYishay, Brad Parks, Rachel Trichler, Christian Baehr, Daniel Aboagye, Punwath Prum

In 1996, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and other donors worked with the Cambodian government in an attempt to rebuild confidence in public institutions and improve economic welfare by strengthening local democracy and administration. The Seila Programme started as a pilot project in four municipalities. These were then scaled up and institutionalised through the establishment of the Commune/Sangkat Fund (CSF).

This study uses geospatial impact evaluation (GIE), which is an innovative method for assessing the causal effects of the development programme.

The report was presented during the seminar Tjugo år av bistånd till Kambodja – vilka är resultaten?


  • Sida can achieve considerable, long-term effects in places with very challenging conditions following war and conflict. The conditions for this are close cooperation with local parties.
  • The evaluation of the effects was made possible by the donors developing data systems for follow-up at village level. Investments in careful data collection at an early stage of the programme is an invaluable resource for future evaluations of long-term results.
  • The evaluation shows that the programme generated considerable socioeconomic effects even in the years after the donors withdrew, around 2010.
  • The Commune/Sangkat Fund considerably increased the level of economic development in the areas concerned. The biggest impact was in infrastructure and road projects in rural areas.

Ariel BenYishay Chief Economist, AidData
Brad Parks, Executive Director, AidData
Rachel Trichler, Senior Research Analyst, AidData
Christian Baehr, Junior Data Analyst, AidData
Daniel Aboagye, Research Fellow, AidData
Punwath Prum, GIS Coordinator, Open Development Cambodia