In August 2007, a workshop in Phnom Penh explored the potential for community based media production in Cambodia. During the workshop, community based media produced by ICSO (Indigenous Community Support Organization) in conjunction with indigenous people and other marginalized groups was shared with activists from emerging community networks from around Cambodia – networks which were emerging out of the need for a unified and collaborative response to the growing level of oppression, such as land evictions and other human rights abuses, experienced by communities.
In 2008, Building Community Voices (BCV) was created due to the conviction of its founders that the majority of media made in Cambodia is produced by non-community institutions, not by those peoples most directly affected by events happening around them. This phenomenon reinforces the hierarchical, client-patron nature of Cambodian culture because it is premised on the assumption that communities lack knowledge and expertise that need to be filled in by outsiders – support that ultimately demobilizes, rather than mobilizes, communities and individuals. It further contributes to a very passive civil society in Cambodia, a factor which makes the country more vulnerable to centralization of power and governing that is not accountable to the people.
At the same time, BCV emerged to support these burgeoning networks and to build connections between organizations and communities at the local and national level in Cambodia to enable them to work more effectively in collaboration, learn from each other’s best practices and compliment, rather than duplicate, each other’s work.