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Land not for Sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot, Cambodia November 2005 A Report by Teang Tnaut Association

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Land not for Sale

A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in

Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot, Cambodia

November 2005

A Report by Teang Tnaut Association

English Language version – for Khmer translation of Executive summary please contact Teang Tnaut

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Contents

Report concept 3

Executive summary (Khmer & English) 4

Challenges for the future (Khmer & English) 10

Snapshot Survey: a Summary 13

A closer look: Sihanoukville 16

A closer look: Koh Kong 24

A closer look: Kampot 33

Appendix 38

project outline

list of NGOs/IOs/Government offices involved in development (by town)

survey results

SEILA commune database population statistics

references

Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Teang Tnaut Association 2

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Report Concept

In March 2005 the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR) in Bangkok approved a proposal for a study on the baseline situation for informal communities in the 3 coastal towns of Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot (please see Appendix for project outline) .

Objectives: to draw together baseline data (in both english and khmer) on urban poor situation in these 3 provincial towns to assist the ongoing urban poor/ landlessness dialogue and provide partners with this basic information. In particular looking at;

mapping: obtaining simple town plans and mapping location of main communities

snapshot survey: sample survey of basic situation and outlook of 20 urban poor residents in each town

interviews/discussions: with community leaders, Government officers and development organisations to gain a wider picture of the situation

Information: wide distribution of findings to partners, communities, Government etc.

This report will be copied to the various organizations involved in protecting rights and assisting development with the communities concerned . It will also provide baseline information for potential interventions and upgrading in these towns over the coming years.

Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Study area; Map courtesy of Canby publications

Teang Tnaut Association 3

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Land not for saleA brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Executive Summary

In researching the outline situation of these informal settlements a number of issues have emerged. The following summary touches on these issues and attempts to provide an overview although each heading in itself could be the subject of an entire report. It is hoped, however, that this study allows the reader a window onto the overall situation.

A new trend of Landlessness

The findings in this report add weight to the view that, although landlessness is an ongoing issue, there is a new trend of landlessness and housing rights abuses emerging which is affecting not only the informal settlements covered in this study but Cambodia as a whole. It is fuelled by a number of issues including huge speculative investment, rising land prices, weak governance and a number of other factors that are looked at in this summary.

The study of these 3 coastal towns in many ways reflects the national situation in which informal settlements are being affected at different rates and in different ways. Some settlements are poor but have been settled a long time and have a sense of security while others are equally poor but are recently settled, lack a cohesive community bond and are therefore more vulnerable to eviction and abuse. For example Koh Kong’s settlements are largely migratory with a high percentage coming to the province in search of possible work at the Thai border.

What is an informal or marginalised community?

For the purposes of this report informal communities are those which have arisen, usually without formal planning, along road sides, river banks and along edges of public and private property. Marginalised communities are those which are recognised by authorities but are lacking in many of the basic facilities of clean water supply, sanitation and adequate access. Most resettlement sites fall into this category.

Teang Tnaut Association 4

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Land not for saleA brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Kampot has moreestablished communities which are also affected by grinding poverty and lack of infrastructure, but less prone to eviction and harrassment by authorities. Sihanoukville, also has more established communities but is experiencing aggressive land speculation and a higher number of disputes (some violent). In all of these situations the common theme is that informal communities, whether temporary and migratory or long term and settled, are facing increasing threats from a combination of local and international developers and Government officers. The communities have little or no ability to question or object despite a large international aid community presence (although there have been some high profile cases of negotiation).

Informal settlements are set to grow

In recent years there have been a number of factors coming into play that are beginning to ‘squeeze’ the situation everywhere – one obvious statistic is a growing population whose families are unable to provide adequate land for the next generation. This is pushing more and more of the

nation’s 13 million residents into precarious temporary housing situations with relatives, bottom end rented accommodation or simply onto the street. A recent OXFAM report on Landlessness refers to these people ‘…increasingly resorting to migration in a largely fruitless search for adequate livelihood.’

A young population/ weak education system

Compounding the situation is the 50.3% of the population that is under the age of 20. This huge ‘wedge’ of young, largely unskilled Cambodians (from the 80s baby boom) is already emerging on the work market with few employment opportunities. Schools are already strained with lack of qualified staff, monthly salaries are mostly US$20-30 and classes are often teeming with

The potential social and political unrest that could result from the continuing growth of this portion of the population is substantial and a cause for concern’.

OXFAM/GB Landlessness Assessment report (2004)

Teang Tnaut Association 5

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

children. Higher education is generally run as a fee-paying, commercial enterprise with very mixed teaching quality and little or no accreditation.

Weak governance

Despite many donor backed initiatives to strengthen governance Ministries are still a long way from having a full compliment of trained staff especially in provincial towns. Therefore while there are a number of excellent Government staff with skill and integrity, most ministries are still lacking a significant percentage of experienced staff. In addition some Government officers are taking the opportunity of new found ‘skills’ to exploit loopholes and actually assist directly or indirectly in abuses. This stems from a system which routinely continues to rely at all levels on a decades old embedded formula of bribes, kick-backs and ‘unofficial’ payments and it is clear that meaningful change in governance will be, at best, slow.

Source: Inter-Censal survey, Ministry of Planning (2004)

Teang Tnaut Association 6

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Ignorance of the Law/ No faith in the Law

Even Government officers and NGOs are unclear about the new Land Law which leaves most Cambodians largely unaware of what changes have occurred and how to go about basic land negotiations including land registration. ‘In general people living in remote areas do not understand the process of acquiring land certificates’ noted ADHOC, one of Cambodia’s leading human rights organisations, ‘of all cases brought to Cadastral commission only 6 cases saw resolution with 174 families receiving suitable compensation.‘ 1 This has left thousands of families stranded without help. Many already understand well enough, through successive regimes, that in Cambodia ‘Might is Right’. Meanwhile efforts to improve this situation such as the Ministry of Land use, Planning,, Urbanism and Construction’s ‘Social Land Concession system’ (funded by the World Bank) which aims to distribute some areas of State public Land to the poor continues to make slow progress and find many snags (among them simply determining what areas are actually classed as State Public Land….)

Land Speculation fuelling interest

An end to civil conflict in 1998 combined with general political stability and huge investment from the Chinese and other (mainly) Asian countries has led to pockets of Land speculation and spiralling land prices. Phnom Penh has been the main target but other provincial towns especially Sihanoukville have been affected. With millions of dollars at stake, families once living quietly along rivers, lakes (boeungs), roads and other property are now being required, coereced or forced to move on.

restricted window for public dialogue

It is clear that today Cambodia has an increasingly restricted window for public dialogue. Recent Political and Media censure as well as limits on public meetings and activities of NGOs, combined with ongoing issues of impunity for developers and high ranking officials has fuelled growing issues of land grabbing. The situation for these informal settlements (and the Country’s), which contain the bulk of the poor, looks barely different from a decade ago and their future, it could be argued, looks unlikely to improve .

1 ADHOC Annual Human Rights review 2003

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Exerpt from New York Times article

6th November 2005

Land values in Phnom Penh are estimated to have tripled in the past five years, and the market is so rabid that small lakes are being filled to create more prime land to sell. "There seems to be a frenzy, a momentum to grab up anything you can,“ said Miloon Kothari, a specialist on adequate housing for the United Nations, on a visit here at the end of August. "The decisions seem to be dictated by money and political expediency.“ The most prominent of the current deals are being accomplished in a stream of land swap agreements with a small number of well-connected private companies. In those swaps, the

developer promises to build a replacement on the outskirts or suburbs of the city where land is less valuable, but most details remain secret.. In one deal, the Royal University of Fine Arts, near the French Embassy in Phnom Penh, is being swapped for a building to be completed on reclaimed land at a far edge of the city. In another, the municipal police headquarters near the central market has been traded for a new building on the outskirts. Similar deals have been made for police headquarters in Siem Reap and Battambang, according to Licadho, one of Cambodia's leading human rights groups.

The main prison, behind the Royal Palace, has been emptied for a developer who has built a prison, also on the outskirts. The Cambodia Daily reported that one developer had acquired the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court, the Appeals Court and the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, and was building suburban replacements.

"The government sells schools, a hospital, and now a lake," Kek Galabru, who heads Licadho, said last spring. "One day they're going to sell the Mekong - they're going to sell the whole of Phnom Penh."

‘The Cambodian defenders project and the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights are struggling to cope with the fall-out from large scale land ownership disputes, where usually the victims are the powerless poor. CDP coordinator Chea Dara said in most cases land occupied by families was confiscated by official authorities and powerful people.’

Phnom Penh Post, August 2004

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Legacy of the Khmer Rouge (KR) and lack of Trust

Much is written about the legacy of the KR, the civil war and the current regimes that even today continues to rely on ‘patronage’ and intimidation, albeit on a lesser scale, to underpin its authority. However this KR legacy is very rarely recognised in public dialogue beyond a general denouncement of the ‘terrible Pol Pot’ (ah-Pot). For example in Kampot (as throughout Cambodia) there are many public figures who were in KR uniform as recently as 1998. Rarely is this talked about publicly and certainly no one questions it but is a situation that affects all society and its ability to ‘trust’ the Government and each other. The KR’s system of spies (chhlop) continues to be used informally today and reminds people that they are ‘being watched’. It is a situation that will take many years, possibly generations, to change but it is important to name it as one of the factors that has caused Cambodia’s problems and continues to do so today.

Some positive signs

This summary paints a generally bleak picture about the new pressures on these informal settlements. Yet there are reasons for hope. The current situation is far from critical; these towns have nothing approaching the mass slum settlements of Indian cities such as Mumbai and there is a great opportunity for Cambodia to grow its towns and cities without creating them. Programmes such as the Starfish project in Sihanoukville show that there are NGOs involved in support for the informal settlements and each town has at least 2 operational Human Rights organisations. Settlements themselves are very resourceful and although local politics are unlikely to change significantly, there are many precedents of flexibility and negotiation in Khmer culture. The question remains whether the authorities will allow people the freedom to build and upgrade their homes or whether they will allow this rising tide of evictions and land grabbing to go unchecked.

Teang Tnaut Association 9

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Challenges for the future

Sharing information

It is clear from the fieldwork of this study that there is considerable information available but limited sharing of information through networks or Forums within which information can be usefully and easily exchanged. Even in Phnom Penh, which has a number of NGOs involved in these issues including RAN (Resettlement Action Network) at NGO Forum and the Housing Rights Taskforce (formerly based out of the UNCHR office), there is limited information exchange. In the provinces the situation is often worse. There is a need to recognise the limitations of organisations but also to encourage existing NGOs to network in the provinces on these issues. Supporting workshops, exchanges and Forums but also needing to go beyond the routine workshop menu – for example introducing creative arts and performance can be very effective in providing public messages and advocating indirectly against abuse.

There is an also a major gap in the public’s understanding about Land Rights; how to register land and how to complain about abuses. It is a massive undertaking which human rights organisations and others (such as GTZ and LMAP) are attempting to address, promoting better information and dialogue between central Government, Commune councils, local NGOs and community groups.

Striving for a clear Land registration system

At the core of this situation is a lack of political impetus to create a working system of registration accessible to everyone. This leaves the situation ‘in limbo’, to the detriment of the average landowner and to the profit of those abusing the system.

The Kouprey Express

This is a project run by NGO Wild Aid to educate the public about environmental issues and wildlife protection. A van equipped with information materials and a video projector tours the country. It is a simple, clear and effective method particularly in remote areas and could be used for a number of issues including Land Rights.

Teang Tnaut Association 10

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Links to media

One of the most effective methods of advocating about land rights and getting abuses bought to the attention of the public is to get a story in the paper. The english language papers (Cambodia Daily and Phnom Penh Post) are both receptive to stories on land rights abuses. Recent coverage of the Gbaal Spean evictions at Poipet in which 5 locals were killed was very well covered and led to international attention and condemnation. Khmer language papers are also receptive to some issues but have more political ties and restrictions.

Documentation and mapping of communities

Although NGOs are involved in certain cases there seemed to be very little systematic documentation available. All NGOs interviewed produced varying levels of documentation detail but none really seemed to have a good overall view or strategy. Most offices appeared to be stretched on resources and in the circumstances were ‘patching gaps’ but a coordinated strategy and solid understanding of the situation were missing.

Teang Tnaut Association 11

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

recognise limited capacity

It is perhaps an obvious statement but the capacity of NGOs to assist is limited, the training and experience of Government officers is limited and the ability for the general population (particularly in remote areas) to understand ‘legal’ or ‘western orientated’ information is limited. But these limitations need to be incorporated into future plans and policies. For example it was recently commented that the PLUP (Participatory Land Use Planning) rural document was an excellent document but in reality it was often very hard to implement on the ground because people simply couldn’t understand it. The document itself was excellent but there was little or no frame of reference for this type of approach for either participants or facilitators. Many donor projects fall into this gap and shows the need to appreciate the current capacity and resources available. Even an extensive programme of training/workshops is unlikely

to have significant impact for anyone who has had limited experience with these projects.

Future Initiatives

This project has already fed into an initiative by the Urban Poor Development Fund (UPDF) to bring together communities and local authorities from 7 provincial towns (including these 3). In the months following this and up to the publication of this report more than 5 community projects have been assisted by UPDF and Teang Tnaut in these coastal towns. From these small sparks of community based development we hope to work with both Government (eg SEILA/Ex-comm, LMAP) and Non-Government programmes and help spark initiatives where none presently exist. Communities have the skills and ability to develop themselves and combat hostile eviction but there continues to be a large potential role for organisations to encourage community based initiatives and assist negotiation with the authorities.

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Snapshot Survey: Summary

see Appendix for questionnaire

Age group & Gender

Average age of interviewees was 43 and of these 24 were male and 36 female.

Occupation

Almost half were working in fishing, farming and selling small goods (46%). Others included manual labourers (16%), housewife(14%) and a small number of Government employees reflecting a typical range of occupations in urban poor areas.

Savings groups & NGO assistance

Only one person was involved in a savings group (organised without NGO help). Some had heard about the human rights organisations and In Sihanoukville many mentioned that RACHA had visited with information on HIV/Aids but otherwise the direct input of NGOs in these areas seemed minimal.

Expenses

The largest expense for all families was on food and water (57%). This was followed by education of children (20%) and medicines (12%). Although some mentioned that they are on the property of relatives or unknown landowners very few mentioned rent payment as an expense indicating that most are living for free on their site.

Water supply

Over half are buying water either via street sellers or a piped system. The remainder are either getting water free from a public well (45%) or using both systems. In Koh Kong and Sihanoukville in particular the water supply is becoming an even larger issue as development increases consumption but the infrastructure is not keeping pace.

Teang Tnaut Association 13

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Sanitation and Power supply

73% are without a working toilet and 34% without electricity (supplied by private sources at rates ranging from 600-1300 riel/Kwh). The local price in Phnom Penh supplied by Electricity du Cambodge (EdC) is from 350 riel/Kwh.

Preferences for upgrading

This question was aimed at seeing what community projectspeople would like to see realised. Many respondents were so unused to being asked this type of question that they found it difficult to imagine. 25% were in such dire situations that notions of ‘community’ projects were not appropriate. However of those that were in a position to answer 45% referred to the need for better services (electricity/water etc) and better access (road, walkways). A small number mentioned education and the need for work opportunities which was not related directly to the question but reflected their needs.

Survey in Kampot

Survey in Pak Long fishing community, Koh Kong

Teang Tnaut Association 14

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Place of Birth

Very revealing results for each town. In Kampot 80% came from that province whereas in Koh Kong no one was originally from that province and in Sihanoukville just 20% had their home town there. This correlates strongly with the overall situation of insecurity of land tenure, landlessness and housing rights problems1.

Duration of stay in current location

These statistics further highlight differences between Kampot and the other 2 towns. For instance Kampot has communities living in poor conditions but they have a sense of

security reflected by a figure of 73% who have been in their location for over 20 years. In Koh Kong on the other hand no one had been there longer

than 20 years and 62% had been there under 10 years. In Sihnaoukville it was a similar story with 12% there longer than 20 years and 40% for less than 10 years.

Threat of eviction

Respondents were asked to rate their feeling of the ‘threat of eviction’ on a scale of 1-5 (5 being highest). Kampot (average figure 2.4) appears to have a more stable environment than either Koh Kong (2.9) or Sihanoukville (3.6). In the latter 85% felt there was some threat of eviction and felt ‘insecure’ about their current location. It should also be remembered that most Cambodians over the age of 30 have experienced some form of ‘eviction’ and ‘insecure land tenure’ most particularly during the KR era.

1 OXFAM/GB Landlessness Assessment report (2004)

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

A closer look:

Sihanoukville

Background information

Sometimes referred to as Kampong Som, Sihanoukville was named after the former King Norodom Sihanouk and is the main ‘Port’ City of Cambodia. It replaced Kampot as the country’s main port in the 1950s due to its deep harbour and was a main route for both US and Vietcong supplies during the War 1965-75. It has an ‘urban‘ population in access of 70,000 (see Appendix) which is mainly employed in the fishing industry, Port activities, the Angkor brewery, Tourism and in general trade. Although it is Cambodia’s third largest city Sihanoukville still has very much a provincial town feel to it. This is partly due to its sprawling nature from the Port over to Occheuteal beach which covers over 9 square Kilometres

Teang Tnaut Association 16

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Informal settlements

In relation to this the informal settlements are not concentrated in large settlements but scattered along roadsides, water sources, around public buildings and on ‘undeveloped land’. A rough estimate indicates that there are more than 10,000 people living in these areas. Since 1979 people have been able to settle in the city in these areas without much controversy but in recent years the steep rise in property prices and land speculation has seen a sharp rise in harassment and eviction (see Cambodia Daily reports in Appendix).

This is evident throughout Cambodia but more so in Sihanoukville where prices and pressures are greater. In addition the land titling system remains unclear and largely inaccessible to the poor in part due to opaque practices and in part due to a genuine lack of resources and capacity in the cadastral departments.

Teang Tnaut Association 17

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Informal settlement mapping

Methodology the numbers given in this mapping information are very much approximate. Information was gained either through casual observance or via a local source. As the settlements are scattered throughout the city it was not possible to map every neighbourhood and therefore we may well have missed many small clusters. In addition it was difficult to determine what constituted an informal settlement but generally it was defined as areas along roadside, railways, boeungs or on public/private property owned by others.

The Port area is perhaps the largest area with over 1,500 families (approximately 9,000 persons) and overall Sihanoukville is estimated to have over 2,000 families living in informal housing (12,000 persons) which represents 17% of the population.

Teang Tnaut Association 18

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

^ Sihanoukville Port:: Four billion Yen is slated for upgrades over 10 years but forcing change for villagers on the left of the photo

^ A small fishing community on the former Royal residence. It is threatened with eviction and in the background lies Sokha beach, now a privately owned enterprise by sokimex, the national oil company

^ Large areas of Sihanoukville remain unurbansied and undeveloped. This is set to change with many parcels being fenced off. Planning observers have commented though that the infrastructure including water supply is not keeping pace.

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Housing Rights issues

Sokha Beach

There have been a number of high profile cases in recent years including the recent ‘Sokha beach’ issue in which Okhna Kong Triv made claim to several hectares of a prime beach front promontory and successfully evicted more than 20 families using bulldozers and armed police.

The case continues to be disputed by other users on the beach front particularly a number of foreign and/or khmer run bars and guesthouses. For the evicted families however it seems to be very much closed.

The Port and Tum Nop Dyke

The Port is another area of the city that has been increasingly involved in land disputes. Families eager to make some form of business near the port have historically settled along the Tum Nop dyke. However in November 2004 Police and military Police began making arrests of families they said were ‘land grabbing’. A number of

people were imprisonedand the Governor of Sihanoukville, Say Hak, called for further arrests.

In 2003 the Japanese Government approved a 4.3bn Yen loan via JICA to fund a 10 year upgrading plan to allow Sihanoukville to increase port capacity and challenge other regional ports. It includes the idea of a 43 hectare ‘Special Economic Zone’ as part of a ‘Growth corridor’ between Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh. On the site however many families have made their homes. Port Authority (PAS) chairman, Lou Kim Chhun commented that ‘Port expansion is the key to the health of the Cambodian economy. It cannot be compromised by a few illegal shacks.’1 Needless to say JICA’s announcement fuelled increased speculation in the area and more families moved into the area leading to the standoff with Police in late 2004. ‘it’s not our responsibility to relocate….these people’ continued Lou,’ maybe it is something an NGO... should look into.’ 1

1 Phnom Penh Post April, 2004

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Golf course

Another ongoing issue involves Ariston , the Malaysian developer and their construction of a golf course on the Occheuteal beach front in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism. Not only are they claiming land that is, according to the 2001 Land Law, not for private use but are also squeezing out some of the beach front operators by restricting road access (see below). The case continues.

Stung Haw District

Although not in the city itself Stung Haw district, 15kms north of the city, is home for many of the area’s poorer families.

Ariston Golf course extends onto the beach: by Law this is public land

Teang Tnaut Association 21

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Government and Non Government assistance

Government assistance

SEILA is the Royal Cambodian Government’s main body to ‘alleviate poverty’ and Mr Yam Saveung described very clearly about their work in the city which mainly involved road upgrading. He explained that SEILA’s function was to assist the communes in allocating funds (RGC provides USD5-10,000 per year) and to provide some technical help. He added that SEILA and Government offices still lacked qualified staff and experience of working with ‘systems’. This was alluded to in the 2004 review of SEILA Provincial Investment Funds by DFID-Sida which indicated that there seemed to be little correlation between the choice of SEILA projects and low income areas.

Other Government departments including Police, Military and Judiciary are involved in housing rights and urban poor issues but are often seen as agents in bolstering the abuses.

The Military Police have a prime site on the beachfront at Occheuteal. They are often involved in implementing ‘court orders’ as in the recent dispute in November 2004 prompted by Okhna Kong Triv

Even before this report was finished the Phnom Penh Post reported that this exact location had already been sold.

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Non Government (NGO) assistance

Non Government human rights offices include Legal Aid, ADHOC and Licadho all of whom are involved to varying extents in Land rights. In particular Cheap Sothary at ADHOC has had many years of experience with land abuses and dealing with the court system which she sees as open to corruption and abuse and also lacking in qualified personnel. She referred us to an ADHOC report which stated that ’…most lawyers remarked that decisions were linked to corruption in court proceedings….and led to violent evictions

started through court decisions.’1

In addition once authorities and developers know the personnel and office of the Human Rights organisations they avoid phone calls, meetings and at times threaten staff .

The Starfish project is also involved on the ground with families affected by eviction and land abuses. Started in 2001its original remit was to create a bakery that trained and provided employment for people with physical disability. Since then the Mlup Tapang project emerged for street children and the Starfish project has found itself busier and caught up in some of the eviction issues which have affected their clients and their relatives.

However it is clear that the Starfish project and other HR organisations have limited funds and ability to react to these situations and are battling against local authorities that at best display apathy and at worst are directly involved.

1 ADHOC Human Rights situation report (2003)

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

A closer look:

Koh Kong

Background information

Koh Kong has a population of almost 30,000 that has grown steadily with the influx of migrants from various parts of Cambodia. Largely made up of fishing and trading communities Koh Kong has for many centuries enjoyed trade with Thailand and the building of the Mittapheap bridge in 2001 has increased this.

However Koh Kong has also long been a haven for goods smuggling (during the Colonial era Pak Long was a thriving smuggling port and still is to a much smaller degree) and prominent figures such as Ly Yong Phat (alias Suphapha) have brought both development and infamy to the town.

Thailand

Koh Pao

Special Economic Zone

Koh Kong

North

Pak Long

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Thai born Ly bought Cambodian citizenship (and with it the title of ‘Okhna’) and is alleged to have contacts with various mafia/trafficking rings in Thailand and throughout SE Asia.

He part funded the Mittapheap bridge, owns large parts of Koh Kong and most recently was implicated in the direct or indirect eviction of families in Pak Long. In addition he controls a lot of the land along the border complete with casinos, hotels, the infamous ‘Safari world’ and more recently a new Special Economic Zone.

The Thai military have funded much of the new road to Sre Ambel and are major investors

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Informal settlements

Like both Kampot and Sihanoukville, Koh Kong’s urban poor are not gathered in large ‘slum’ areas but along roads, waterways and unused public areas. Increasing land prices and speculation have also led to pressure on these communities and with an ever growing landless population the problem has begun showing itself in forced evictions and harrassment. In particular the survey showed that not one respondent was actually born in the Koh Kong province and that all had come through economic migration or some family difficulty. Most respondents were without toilets and many lacked access to some form of electricity. Fear of eviction varied widely with some families feeling completely at ease and others facing immediate and violent threats.

Main areas included roadside settlements in Phum 1 (centre of town), Cham villages in Phum 4, Pak Long in Mondol Seima and also Koh Pao where around 100 families settled from Prey Veng in the 90s.

Phum 4: The Cham Community

Descendents from the Champa Kingdom that once straddled the Khmer/Vietnam border the Cham community in Koh Kong are traditionally, and remain to today, fisherfolk. Fishing and boat building creates work for many but even here there is an increasing influx of migrants from other parts of the country. In addition are the problems with fishing in competition with the highly equipped (and often armed) Thai and Vietnamese vessels. Finally there are rumours that the authorities want to evict the community which is viewed as illegal and an eye sore. ‘we haven’t heard anything definite but there are rumours of eviction and we feel insecure..’ Soh Sahya, aged 34

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Informal settlement mapping

The numbers given in this mapping information are very much approximate. Information was gained either through casual observance or via a local source. As the settlements are scattered throughout the city it was not possible to map every neighbourhood and therefore we may well have missed many small clusters. In addition it was difficult to determine what constituted an informal settlement but generally it was defined as areas along roadside, railways, boeungs or on public/private property owned by others.

Koh Kong has approximately 1,400 families (8,400 persons) living in informal housing which represents around 25% of the population. Again the families are scattered over a wide area but the Phum 4 was clearly the largest single settlement. There is also Koh Pao with 100 families located around 5 kms north of the town.

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^ There are many fish farms in Pak Long. attempts at shrimp farming have generally failed along with destruction of the mangroves

^ The 3 families pictured above are currently living 5kms east of Koh Kong town. They are constantly on the move, have no clean drinking water and periodically have no rice.

> This is the ‘Artists’ Community which was relocated last year from the town’s sports stadium. They have basic land tenure and can earn a living from their trade in the Arts (mainly musicians).

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Land Abuses

(exerpt from a Human Rights NGO document)

‘On 7th November 2004 at 9am seven soldiers with their wives led by (name withheld), from Smach Meanchey military division pulled down the boundary fence of 4 families and erected new posts at Prek Taman, Toul Korki village. Some of these families lost all land and some lost almost all their land and the soldiers destroyed all the crops. Both parties requested land titles and the soldiers said that these lands belonged to (name withheld), deputy sub division commander of Koh Kong province and he had authorised them to take this land…..after the argument three soldiers went to confront the villager who blamed them for causing the problem, so they beat him with a wooden stick. ….. the soldier allowed the families to stay temporarily on the land but they can’t have ownership or sell it. He added that he had 4 land titles totalling 20 ha,, issued in 1992 and signed by the Land Mangaement chief, Sim Buntheoun.’

Housing Rights issues

Pak Long

In 2002 Sam Rainsy visited Pak Long commune in Koh Kong after hearing that local authorities were forcing villagers to sell their land at 10baht per square metre having been given 100baht themselves by Ly Yong Phat to purchase the land. This intervention was resolved in favour of the villagers but in most cases there is not a high profile figure to assist and human rights NGOs report many abuses, mainly involving the military.

Half of respondents in the survey had either an immediate threat of eviction or a feeling of insecurity, far higher than Kampot and even Sihanoukville. It is this type of uncertainty that means families can not invest in the future, can not look forward and are constantly saddled with concern for their future. In particular Pak Long (Mondol Seima district), Phum 4 Cham villages and Phum 1 riverfront (Smach Meanchey).

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Pak Long with land for sale: but who owns it?

Pak Long high street: a mix of middle class Thai (above) and backwater slum (below)

Pak Long fishermen face fierce (and sometimes lethal) competition with the Thais and Vietnamese.

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Government and Non Government assistance

ADHOC and Licadho have offices in Koh Kong and Legal Aid has recently reopened a small office. These NGOs are faced with a range of human rights abuses of which land issues form just one part. Voeu Daya at Licadho also added that most villagers have little or no understanding of the concept of human rights as most

are concerned with day to day survival. Police and some people even accuse NGO’s of ‘protecting thieves’. Many feel that if a ‘Godfather’ figure such as Ly Yong Phat can bring jobs then the means to that end are acceptable.

Other NGOs include Partners for Development (PfD) who have a mainly rural programme in HIV/health training and awereness and CARE who also have a similar rural based programme, Of all 3 towns Koh Kong has the fewest NGO programmes mainly due to its difficult access (until recently access was by boat or plane in the wet season).

The SEILA office again explained that they were involved in providing assistance to local communes in selecting projects and training (gender, agriculture methods, water issues etc) but it emerged that projects focussed on infrastructure projects such as roads and did not include a specific remit for housing rights or informal settlements. This pattern of SEILA projects failing to focus on ‘poverty alleviation’ was

‘Working in Koh Kong as a human rights organisation is very difficult . People can know who you are and where you are and if I try to call Government officers or developers they never answer the phone. Now even the people are unwilling to come to our workshops because they realise that although knowing about human rights is helpful there is no direct benefit to them in a place that has no real rule of Law. At the workshops the authorities agree to follow the Law but afterwards there is no change’.

Ngourn Solina Adhoc (Koh Kong)

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highlighted in their recent appraisal of Provincial Investment Funding (PIF) which commented that ‘it was commonly found that the poorest communes received fewer Temporary Agreements than better off communes’. (Study on the performance of the SEILA Provincial Investment Fund by Robin Biddulph/Oxford Policy Management, 2004)

In addition the Governor of Koh Kong , Yuth Puthong, has been implicated in many of the land abuse cases himself and for many Koh Kong remains very much a ‘wild west’ of Cambodia on par with Poipet and Pailin where the rule of Law is at best tenuous.

^ Aem Savoeun was soldier 55-833 in Lon Nol’s army in the early 1970s. He hid his profession during the KR era and changed his name to Vath Vorn. He now works the dump site with others (5kms east of the town) who pay 1,000riel per truck to receive rubbish from the casinos

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

A closer look: Kampot

Background information

Kampot town is located in the SW coastal province of Kampot, 148kms from Phnom Penh. The town’s population is almost 30,000 (see Appendix) which is mainly Khmer but with significant ethnic Vietnamese, Chinese and Cham communities working in trade and fishing. Many of these communities date back to the French Colonial era which can be seen clearly in the architectural style of the town. Today Kampot’s main industries are salt production, fishing, pepper farms and tourism.

The town is separated in two by the Kampong Bai river which is fed by the Elephant (Damrei) mountains and is seasonally salt/fresh water.

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Informal settlements

Although it is clear from even a quick visit to Kampot that although there are no ‘seething slums’ the city is home to many families on the poverty line. Currently spared some of the property speculation of Koh Kong and Sihanoukville, Kampot has largely been able to avoid the evictions but similarly weak cadastral and court systems mean that the situation could be easily destabilised. An estimated 500 families live in informal settlements but many have long connections with Kampot and there are only occassional signs of the Authorities or developers forcing people from land violently.

Housing Rights

Road 3

One of the biggest impacts to Kampot has been the widening of Road 3 both to Phnom Penh and onto Sihanoukville. Recent legislation stated

The Salt fields at Trauey Koh district, Kampot

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that national highways have a Right of Way 30-50m across which means that many residents have been evicted throughout the country from their ‘illegal’ sites. Generally funded by international donors or banks there has been little provision for compensation which as in the case of Road 1 has resulted in conflict with residents and an enquiry into Japanese Government/ADB funding of the project. The Kampot District offices have certainly made efforts to meet with various groups in the province who have complained about loss of livelihood.

15kms from Kampot, the area of Koh Slaa has also been the subject

of ongoing eviction

and ‘relocation under

duress’ involving

former KR

commanders and

unidentified developers.

^ Kampot fisherwoman: Haht Aysah

Aysah has lived in Andoang Khmer district of Kampot since 1979. She is 40 and has 5 children to support. This is a typical situation for many households in Cambodia that are not located in ‘slums’ but are living on or below the poverty line.

Kampot’s 5 Khum

Kampong Bai

Kampong Kandal

Trauey Koh

Andong Khmer

Krang Ampil

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Informal settlement mapping

Methodology: the numbers given in this mapping information are very much approximate. Information was gained either through casual observance or via a local source. As the settlements are scattered throughout the city it was not possible to map every neighbourhood and therefore we may well have missed many small clusters. In addition it was difficult to determine what constituted an informal settlement but generally it was defined as areas along roadside, railways, boeungs or on public/private property owned by others.

Kampot has no areas that are immediately identifiable as ‘informal settlements’ yet there are many poor families. We calculated that there were in the region of 500 families (3,000 persons) in this category. It was noted that the widening of Road 3 has had a big impact for many families.

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Government & Non Government assistance

Kampot has a sizeable SEILA/Ex-comm. and GTZ (German Aid) project which provides a useful resource for local Government in 7 of the 8 districts, in particular a pioneering cadastral registration project in Kampong Trach. Roeun Sophana (SEILA/Ex-comm.) provided useful information on statistics and the latest profiles but it appeared that again there is no focussed remit for informal settlements within Kampot town. Most of the Provincial Investment Fund (PIF) projects supported road improvements in ‘formal’ areas and there seems to be no programme to support community based upgrading initiatives although there are signs that a Commune Investment plan (CIP) will consider looking at this.

There are a number of NGO programmes in Kampot (see Appendix) on a par with Sihanoukville. ADHOC seemed to have the most active office run by Try Chhoun who

has been actively involved in land dispute cases since the 1990s. Vigilance and Licadho have a small presence but indicated that they had very limited funding for all projects especially Land issues. This seems understandable in the light that Kampot is not a ‘hotspot’ for land disputes but also shows that there are very limited resources available for those who, in the first place, know how to contact the NGO offices. In addition a number of NGO listed were uncontactable and either had closed their office or had a very small presence.

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Appendix

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Land not for sale A brief study of informal settlements, landlessness and housing rights issues in Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot cambodia 2005

Appendix: Study Outline

Baseline Mapping & Survey

on general situation of urban poor communities in 3 coastal townsof Sihanoukville, Koh Kong & Kampot

1.0 Objectives: to provide baseline data (in both english and khmer) on urban poor situation in these 3 provincial towns to assist dialogue, advocacy for urban poor and provide partners with basic information. Team leader is foreign but all staff will be khmer and information will be fed back to wide range of organisations both NGO and Government. Study will be made independently by Hallam Goad working freelance with funding support by ACHR.

2.0 Methodology:

Baseline mapping: mix of desk study using trained YPs and checking on site with local YPs. outline base maps (scaled at A3 size) of each town on AutoCAD will indicate location of urban poor settlements larger than approximately 5 families

Survey:

approximate number of urban poor families/communities in each city

families involved in Savings schemes

threat of eviction/security of tenure

length of tenure at current location

short term hopes/needs of families

list of NGOs/CBOs involved in urban poor issues and their interventions

Local Government attitudes/policies to urban poor

Interviews/discussions:

community leaders

community members (random selection)

Sangkat/Commune chiefs, local Government officials and SEILA

Local NGO/CBOs involved in urban poor infrastructure and advocacy issues

3.0 Duration:

approximately 3 months (March- May) with final report in June

4.0 Deliverables/outputs

baseline physical maps of urban poor communities in theses 3 towns

outline survey of the current situation of these communities

Information on NGOs working with urban poor

wide distribution of findings to partners, communities, Government etc.

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List of NGOs/IOs/Governmnet offices involved in Development

Sihanoukville

source: CCC Directories 2004-5

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List of NGOs/IOs/Governmnet offices involved in Development

Sihanoukville

source: CCC Directories 2004-5

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List of NGOs/IOs/Governmnet offices involved in Development

Koh Kong

source: CCC Directories 2004-5

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List of NGOs/IOs/Governmnet offices involved in Development

Koh Kong

source: CCC Directories 2004-5

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List of NGOs/IOs/Governmnet offices involved in Development

Kampot

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source: CCC Directories 2004-5

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List of NGOs/IOs/Governmnet offices involved in Development

Kampot

source: CCC Directories 2004-5 NGOs in italics were uncontactable

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Population statistics

Kampot

Source: SEILA commune database 2004

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Population statistics

Koh Kong

Source: SEILA commune database 2004

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Population Statistics

Sihanoukville

Source: SEILA commune database 2004

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References

ADHOCHuman Rights situation report (2003)

Ministry of Planning Cambodia Inter-Censal Population Survey 2004, General Report

National Institute of Statistics and sponsored by UNFPA

SEILA official website: commune population statistics

Phnom Penh Post various articles

Cambodia Daily various articles

New York Times 6th November article

DFID-SidaStudy on the performance of the SEILA Provincial Investment Fund

Robin Biddulph/Oxford Policy Management (2004)

Oxfam GB Poverty and Social Impact Assessment of Social Land concessions in Cambodia: Landlessness Assessment

Robin Biddulph (2004)

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Acknowledgements

To the ACHR team in Bangkok especially Maurice. To all those who helped with interviews and providing information, in particular Kek Galabru at Licadho, Gorm Jeppesen at CZM and his team, Ralf Zyman from the DED team, the Ministry of Land use, Planning, Urbanism and Construction in Phnom Penh and Canby publications for provision of excellent maps

Also to Ros Sokha at SEILA and the SEILA/Ex-comm teams in each province, Paul Rabe, Laurent Meillan at UNCHR and the HRTF team, Meng and Erika Hilmersson at Starfish bakery for use of moto and other help, Declan O’Leary for information on statistics and Try Chhoun at ADHOC in Kampot.

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The Asian Coalition for Housing Rights

ACHR is based in Bangkok, Thailand and has been working since the late 1980s in supporting community based initiatives in credit, savings, infrastructure, education and Housing Rights throughout South and South East Asia. They have a core team of 4. They produce a newsletter which reports on all these activities and helps bring them to the attention of donors looking to support community based projects which range from the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) in Pakistan covering hundreds of thousands of families to clean water supply initiatives for 10 families in Cambodia. For more information please contact their website : www.achr.com. ACHR provided funding for this report.

Teang Tnaut Association

Teang Tnaut was formed in 2005 by Meas Kim Seng and Hallam Goad. It aims to bring together designers, artists and community organisers to work with community based projects. The focus is on three (3) areas including; technical assistance to community infrastructure, advocacy & housing rights and research on informal settlements. It is based in Phnom Penh with a field office in Kampot.

Seng (coordinator) graduated from the Royal University of Fine Arts in 1999 in Architecture. From 1999-2005 he worked with the NGO Urban Resource Centre working as an urban community planner with informal community infrastructure upgrading and general advocacy for urban poor.Hallam (advisor) graduated from Edinburgh University in 1995 with a Masters in Landscape Architecture. He worked at an urban design office in Kuala Lumpur (Aspinwall Clouston 1995-97), at an urban issues NGO in Phnom Penh (Urban Resource Centre 1998-2000 & 2004-05) and in urban regeneration in London (Groundwork, 2000-03). For more information on Teang Tnaut please contact hallam@camintel.com or seng@teangtnaut.com or visit the new website (available in March 2006) on www.teangtnaut.com

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