The gulf between rhetoric & reality : an examination of the gap between development theory and development practice in the care of Cambodian orphans : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Development Studies at Massey University, Palmerston North Campus
Like many other Developing World countries. Cambodia is in the midst of an orphan crisis. At least 77,000 children have lost their parents to AIDS and many thousands more have been orphaned by civil war. landmines and other tragedies. These orphans face an uncertain future. Traditionally in Cambodia, most of these children have been cared for within the community in which they lived with their parents. Current development theory strongly promotes such community-based care for orphans and argues that Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) should use their resources to support and strengthen communities in that task instead of placing children in institutions such as orphanages. However, for every community-based orphan care program set up by NGOs in Cambodia, six orphanages are established. The development rhetoric on care for orphans is not matched by the development practice reality in Cambodia. There is a gap between theory and practice in the care of Cambodian orphans, a disconnection between what development theorists promote and what development practitioners implement. This research project examines the gap between development theory and practice in the care of Cambodian orphans. Results of the study will enhance understanding of the possible reasons for this disparity and suggest ways to close the gap and bring greater congruence between development theory and practice in this field. The study initially looked at the literature on care for orphans and established general principles as advanced by the development texts. Secondly, the study provided an overview of current practice in Cambodia in the care of orphans. Finally, an examination was made of the gap between theory and practice in Cambodia: in order to understand this gap, primary research has been conducted with development practitioners to establish possible reasons for it.