Assessing the institutional capacity to adapt to climate change: a case study in the Cambodian health and water sectors

Va Dany*, Kathryn J. Bowen, Fiona Miller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Institutional capacity is an important element for climate change adaptation (CCA) and the development of such capacity is a great challenge in a Least Developed Country like Cambodia where resources are limited. An important first step to increasing capacity is via an understanding of the level of existing capacity; future priorities can then be subsequently identified. This study aimed to assess the capacity of organizations to implement climate change activities in Cambodia in order to provide such a basis for building capacity. Four elements of capacity were investigated in this research: (1) financial resources, (2) cooperation and coordination of stakeholders, (3) availability and quality of information on vulnerability and adaptation to climate change, and (4) the level of understanding of climate change vulnerability and adaptation. The data were collected through semistructured interviews with a wide range of government and non-government informants across a number of sectors. Results of the study showed that informants perceived capacity for CCA to be very constrained, especially in terms of financial resources and cooperation, and addressing these factors was ranked as the highest climate change capacity priority. Institutional capacity constraints were considered to relate more generally to weak governance of CCA. In light of our research findings, the absence of local higher education institutions in CCA activities should be addressed. The support of such institutions would provide an important mechanism to progress both capacity development as well as partnerships and coordination between different types of organizations and relevant sectors. Policy relevance Capacity for CCA within Cambodian health and water sectors was perceived to be very constrained across a range of interdependent factors. Increasing funding was ranked as the highest priority for building capacity for CCA; however, governance factors such as ‘improved cooperation’ were also ranked highly. Improving stakeholders' awareness of the availability of adaptation funds and resources, and their responsiveness to funding criteria, is an important implication of our research, as is improving the mobilization of local resources and the private sector. To address the issue of weak cooperation among stakeholders, improving the coordination function of the National Climate Change Committee (NCCC) regarding stakeholder engagement and capacity building is crucial. Ensuring that CCA activities are based on sound information and knowledge from across different disciplines and, importantly, include the perspectives of vulnerable people themselves, ultimately underpins and supports the realization of the above priorities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-409
Number of pages22
JournalClimate Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2015

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2014. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Cambodia
  • capacity
  • climate change adaptation
  • governance
  • health sector
  • water sector


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