World Bank Looks to End Funding Freeze

November 16, 2015

Source: cambodiadaily.com BY | NOVEMBER 16, 2015

 

The World Bank could approve its first internally funded project in Cambodia in March, according to recently released reports, a move that would effectively end the freeze on new lending the Bank imposed on Cambodia over four years ago.

The Bank acknowledged its secret decision to suspend all new lending to Cambodia in August 2011, a move it made to protest the government’s forced eviction of some 3,000 families from Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak neighborhood. At the time, it said money from its own funds would not start flowing for new projects until the government and the families reached a deal.

Hundreds of evicted families have yet to get the compensation they have been asking for. But according to documents posted to its website on Saturday, the World Bank may decide to resume new lending to Cambodia within months.

The reports on a proposed $15 million third phase to the Mekong Integrated Water Resource Management Project say that approval by the Bank’s board of directors is expected on March 17. The project includes money for fisheries and to help the government improve the management of its water resources in the northeast.

Since the lending freeze, the World Bank has continued to dole out money for projects in Cambodia from funds it holds in trust for other donors. But the money for the Mekong project would come from the Internal Development Association, one of the Bank’s own funds.

The Bank did not reply to a request for comment about the proposed project.

The new reports on the Mekong project come a few weeks after a visit to Cambodia by the World Bank’s regional vice president for East Asia and the Pacific, Alex van Trotsenburg.

In a statement about the October 23 to November 3 visit, the Bank said it was in the process of preparing a plan for re-engaging with Cambodia “using a full range of services, including analytical work, technical assistance and financial support.”

Families evicted from Boeng Kak and the housing rights groups helping them say it is too soon for the World Bank to re-engage with Cambodia because the government has yet to properly compensate the families, falling short of the one condition the Bank set for lifting the freeze.

The Bank hosted a number of meetings around the country earlier this year to gather input for its plans to start lending to Cambodia again. But it ignored calls from rights groups to meet with evictees as part of the process and has refused to explain why.


Academic Visit to Cambodia by Mr Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly and Association

November 11, 2015

Source:adhoc-cambodia.org | November 11, 2015

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On 07 to 08 November 2015, Mr Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly and Association, came to Cambodia on an unofficial academic visit.

During his visit, Mr Kiai had the opportunity to meet with diverse groups of Cambodian society, including community representatives of Boeung Kak Lake and Borey Keila, trade unionists, political opposition members, youth activists, environmental activists, students, embassies, and civil society organisations.

Mr Kiai, a professor of law, engaged in honest dialogues and discussions with all groups, both reminding his audience of international human rights standards and of the importance to actively exercise their right to freedom of assembly and association. Mr Kiai repeatedly emphasised that the right to freedom of assembly and association are the pillars to a full and true enjoyment of every individual’s human rights. It provides individuals, among others, an opportunity to express their political opinions in a collective manner. He reminded us that there has never been an improvement of a human rights situation without a struggle; it is how society works through those challenges – at times with personal sacrifices – in order to achieve positive change.

ADHOC truly agrees with Mr Kiai’s inspiring words; it is crucial that all members of Cambodian civil society – whether organisations, community-based groups or individuals – join their forces in the fight against the shrinking democratic space as well as against corruption, injustices and human rights violations in order to improve the deteriorating human rights situation throughout Cambodia.


Sinking In

November 5, 2015

Source: cambodiadaily.com |October 24, 2015

 

At the edge of this expanse of barren land, a house lies buried, filled almost to its roof with sand. This is the Khin family home, the last in their village after more than 3,000 families were evicted from the area to make way for development.

It’s hard to imagine it now, but this mostly empty stretch of sand in northern Phnom Penh was once a large lake, home to hundreds of families crowded around its banks and living in stilted houses on its waters. In 2007, the government granted a lease to Shukaku Inc., a company controlled by CPP Senator Lao Meng Khin, to develop the area. Two years later, to the villagers’ alarm, the company began filling in the lake.

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As the sand surged, so did the pressure to leave. “We had many friends, neighbors, but after Shukaku came, they all left,” Khin Chantha said.

They all fled the rising tide of sand years ago, but the 54-year-old scavenger still lives in the tiny sliver of his home that is still habitable, along with his wife, Ngor Vanna, 38, and their four children. The eldest is 10, the youngest 6 months. Sitting in the shadow of a towering new mosque, their property resembles a junk yard, guarded by a dog and its barking pups.

On a recent afternoon, Mr. Chantha sat outside his sunken, sand-filled home, the thin wisps of his hair matted in the heat. He wore a sandal on his left foot, a dirty T-shirt and an iron chain necklace he found while scavenging. On his hand, one finger is adorned with four rings—more scavenged treasure that he believes will prevent high blood pressure. He hasn’t, however, found a cure for his chronic thalassemia, a hereditary blood disorder.

His one bare foot scraped the sand that buried his home of more than 20 years.

“I came to live here near the end of 1993,” he said. With the aid of his brother and some hired help, Mr. Chantha built his house on stilts, rising 5 meters above the water. Now, only the roof portion peeks above the sand, giving the family just enough space to live inside.

Made of dilapidated wooden walls patched with eroding plywood, there’s barely room to stand over the sleeping mats. The corrugated iron roof leaks. “Every time it rains, we cannot sleep,” Mr. Chantha said. The only decoration is a photograph of Mr. Chantha’s uncle, now deceased, and a laminated picture of the Buddha hanging from the rafters.

On school days, Mr. Chantha takes his three older children on an hourlong trek across the sand and into the city to class, while Ms. Vanna stays home with the baby girl. Then, carrying a sack, the father makes his rounds, collecting plastics and metals to scrape together a living for the family.

The government has offered Mr. Chantha a 72-square-meter plot of land in exchange for the family’s land near Boeng Kak. But he says it’s not enough to compensate him for the 400 square meters of prime real estate he claims to own.

“The company made me angry because they violated my rights,” he said. “I would like to file a complaint against Shukaku for making me a victim of their development.”

Mr. Chantha has refused to move until his demand for a larger plot of land is met. For now, his lone house stands, a decaying structure not nearly as strong as his resolve.

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The Boeng Kak project has been highly controversial since its inception in 2007, when Shukaku was awarded a 99-year lease over 133 hectares—since reduced to 114.

“They didn’t ask the people whether they agreed or not,” Mr. Chantha said of the government. “The people were very shocked and very concerned. They didn’t know what to do.”

The ensuing forced evictions made headlines around the world, rallying the support of local and international NGOs and prompting concern from the U.N. and donor governments. Repeated protests by lake residents flustered Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government and delayed Shukaku’s development plans.

More than one firm has divested from the project amid the controversy, and it was only last month that a Chinese firm began construction on the first major commercial and residential complex on the site. Shukaku’s head of corporate communications did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Yet Boeng Kak is but a large drop in what rights group Licadho sees as a surge in land conflicts across the country. In February, the group released a statement saying that last year it had registered 10,625 families newly affected by land conflicts in the 13 provinces it monitored, three times the number it documented in 2013. The government has dismissed the figure as “groundless.”

According to the 2001 Land Law, any Cambodian who has “enjoyed peaceful, uncontested possession” of a property for at least five years before the law took effect “has the right to request a definitive title of ownership.”

But over a decade since the law was promulgated, the land titling system is still mired in inefficiencies and corruption, says Sia Phearum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force, a coalition of five rights groups. “The law is good, but the implementation is not good,” he said.

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More critically, many in Cambodia do not have official documentation to prove they have lived in an area for any number of years, complicating their path to legal ownership. “The people who have nothing, it’s difficult for advocacy, difficult to negotiate with the government,” Mr. Phearum said.

In the case of Boeng Kak, most of the families did not have the chance to secure the land titles they were legally entitled to before the government handed the land over to Shukaku.

Before the development project began, there were 4,252 families known to live in 10 villages around the lake. More than 3,000 have since been evicted. Following public outcry, in 2011 Mr. Hun Sen signed a sub-decree carving out a 12.44-hectare area for the remaining communities to live in, reducing Shukaku’s lease to 114.41 hectares.

While the concession was welcomed, it did not cover all families. A 2012 survey published by urban housing advocacy group Sahmakum Teang Tnaut identified 70 households excluded from the new land grant, although most of those families have since accepted offers to move into the concession.

According to Mr. Phearum, in addition to Mr. Chantha, City Hall is still in negotiations with six families over compensation for their land.

Municipal spokesman Long Dimanche said the demands of those six families were unrealistic.

“We have not reached an agreement with them yet because what they have demanded is too much and we cannot give it to them, and they do not accept our offer,” he said of those families. “If they demand too high, we cannot do it.”

As for Mr. Chantha, the spokesman said: “We’ve negotiated with this guy many times, but he does not accept the offer.”

Mr. Chantha is asking for four 72-square-meter plots of land. He won’t budge, and neither will the government.

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Mr. Chantha first came to Phnom Penh from Pursat province as a boy. “During the royalist era I came to the city. I was about 10 or 12 years old,” he said. His parents had sent him to study in the city, and he lived with his uncle in Tuol Kok district.

About three years later, the Khmer Rouge came. “My uncle was executed. I was evacuated to Takeo province,” he said. In Takeo, Mr. Chantha labored in the fields, and after the Khmer Rouge’s fall, he remained in the province for another year.

“And then there were people who told me to come to Phnom Penh. They told me that in the province, there is no future,” he said.

Mr. Chantha moved back to the capital, this time staying at an orphanage. It was about that time when he first became ill. He was later diagnosed with thalassemia. “The doctor said the white blood eats the red blood,” he said, using the common Khmer term for the disorder. “I spent all my money on treatment, but it didn’t cure me, so I started drinking traditional Khmer medicine and I got better,” he said.

Phnom Penh in the early 1990s presented an enticing opportunity. Mr. Chantha heard there was land—or in this case, water—up for grabs in Boeng Kak. “At that time, that was how it worked: People came to mark their land,” he said. “Crowds rushed to grab land—all kinds of people: police, soldiers, ordinary people.”

When he arrived at the lake, about 20 families had already settled there. Mr. Chantha stuck poles in the water to demarcate his chosen plot. “After I grabbed the land, a few weeks later I sold [plots] to other people and I got money to buy wood to build a house,” he said.

He found steady work as a construction worker while doing small-scale fishing in the lake. He wasn’t rich by any means, but he was now a landed man with a house and a job. He met Ms. Vanna, who lived in a village near his hometown in Pursat, and she married him.

When Ms. Vanna followed her husband to Phnom Penh, she didn’t bring much with her. “Only a suitcase full of clothes,” she said. She also had no idea what to expect from life in the city. To start with, she had to get used to living on water.

“There were water lilies, all kinds of plants that live on the water,” she said.

They would wake up at around 6 every morning. “We’d get up, we’d take care of the children, wash the clothes and cook,” Ms. Vanna said. They often ate the fish her husband caught. “He laid down the net at night and then came to take it in the morning and again in the evening,” she said.

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The family was living off Mr. Chantha’s construction job, where he could earn about 25,000 riel (about $6.25) per day. They bought rice and other food at the market, crossing the adjacent mosque grounds to walk there.

Ms. Vanna said she sometimes missed her homeland. All her five siblings still live in Pursat—on solid ground, she noted.

“The difference is, living on the land is easy. Living on the water is difficult because the water is polluted and there are insects, scary snakes. We must keep our children in the house,” she said.

There was one accident, when one of their daughters fell into the water and had to be snatched back by Ms. Vanna’s mother who was visiting at the time.

“I want to live on land,” Ms. Vanna said. But it didn’t happen quite as she expected.

Mr. Chantha saw the pipe on the edge of the lake. “It was big,” he said, about half a meter wide. It was strangely silent, no cacophonous machinery, just the hum of the sand pouring in.

“Shukaku started filling the sand without telling the villagers,” he said. “One [pipe] pumped to my direction, other pipes to other directions.” When the residents made sense of what was happening, they panicked.

“The people started to get scared by the sand and the pressure,” Mr. Chantha said.

Mr. Phearum, of the Housing Rights Task Force, said the company worked with the local government. “The local authorities…and the company [were] working together to work with the people to encourage people to move,” he explained.

But the visits were less than friendly. “They used the police to be their security, with rifles, in order to protect the company workers,” Mr. Phearum said. He said they did more than guard the company. “They [did] not allow the people to organize meetings inside Boeng Kak. They used police and military police to stop when they organize meetings.”

Tension escalated. Violent clashes erupted. Those who spoke out were arrested. Prison became so normal for Boeng Kak activists that the community worked out a system to take turns caring for the children of those jailed.

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Amid the protests, talks to settle compensation for the evictees dragged on. “There were two options for the residents,” Mr. Phearum said. “The first option is a flat at Borei Santepheap about 25 km away from the city. The second option is they will provide $8,500.” A third option came with Mr. Hun Sen’s 2011 land grant, allowing some of the families to stay there.

Mr. Chantha said the authorities and Shukaku had invited him to negotiate four times. “The first time, they offered a [72-square-meter] plot,” he said. The second time, they offered him two plots. But he still thought it wasn’t enough. “My land is about 400 square meters,” he said.

The authorities have since reverted to offering him one plot of land. Mr. Chantha is adamant that he deserves four. “I’m not against development, I just want proper compensation,” he insisted.

Meanwhile, the sand kept rising. It took about seven months for it to reach his house, Mr. Chantha said.

“I was very frightened,” he said. “When they pumped the sand, the water splashed around,” washing away their possessions. “Two water containers floated away. My rice pot is gone. Some of my valuable property fell in the water and sand.”

Life became increasingly precarious. “I was worried about my children,” Mr. Chantha added. “We could not walk on the sand because it would sink. I had to tie my child to prevent her from walking and falling into the sand and water.”

And the pressure intensified. “They came to tell me: You should accept the policy. You cannot stay here, your house will be flooded,” Mr. Chantha said.

At one point, he added, people came and threatened to demolish their house. “At that time, I wasn’t home,” he said. “My wife cried, begged them not to.”

Eventually Mr. Chantha stopped going to work because he was afraid he would lose his house if he went too far away. “I stopped doing construction when they started filling in the sand. If I go to work, come back and lose my home, what’s the point?” he said.

Instead, he went to almost every demonstration against the Boeng Kak evictions. “My child could not go to school for three years because she had to go to protests with me,” he said.

The house was left standing—but only barely. Since the sand began to engulf it, Mr. Chantha and Ms. Vanna have had to raise their floor three times. The company stopped pumping the sand in 2011. Mr. Chantha pointed to the ground. “Now it’s all gone.”

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“Life changed,” Ms. Vanna said, cradling their youngest child. “After they started filling in the sand, my husband became a junk collector. Me, I stay home and look after the children…. We do not have money.”

Mr. Chantha sells recyclables and junk to a dealer in the area. “When I pick up my daughters from school, I also pick up cans, plastic, water bottles and metal,” he said, earning him around $0.75 a day. “Sometimes my children do not have food to eat.”

These days, they rely on food from Wat Preah Put Khousacha, a long walk from their house. “When there was water, we could have fish,” Ms. Vanna said. “Before, we had rice to cook. Now we don’t have rice. Every day now we eat rice from the pagoda,” she said. “Sometimes in the pagoda they have [food], sometimes not.”

The family used to get drinking water from the mosque. But with a fence and thick brush now blocking the way, Mr. Chantha must haul 30-liter jerrycans to the nearest cluster of homes. For washing clothes and dishes, they use water that has run off from the construction site and collected in a small depression near their house. They take showers at the house of prominent Boeng Kak activist Tep Vanny.

The house also has no electricity. “My house has candles. Before, an NGO gave me a lamp, but a robber came to steal my lamp one year ago,” Mr. Chantha said. He has since gotten a new, solar-powered lantern, another gift from an NGO. It helps them set up mosquito nets at night.

Poverty isn’t their only peril. “When there’s sand, there are snakes,” Ms. Vanna said. “We are concerned. The children, when they see a snake, they don’t dare to go down.”

Her husband, however, has a different attitude. “If I feel any danger, it is because of Shukaku,” he said.

Though the violent clashes have died down, Shukaku’s development project continues to incite criticism.

“The people cannot enjoy the development. Just only the individuals—the government, the powerful and the rich who enjoy the development,” the Housing Rights Task Force’s Mr. Phearum said.

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Rights groups have urged the government to provide a permanent solution for families excluded from Mr. Hun Sen’s concession by handing them vacant lots within the carved out area.

Boeng Kak activists have also pleaded with the municipality to address the severe flooding that has increasingly affected communities since the lake—once a vital drainage basin—was filled in.

City Hall spokesman Mr. Dimanche said the government doesn’t have an answer yet for families like Mr. Chantha’s. “We do not have other means beside compromising,” Mr. Dimanche said. “We will have other measures to implement, but we are not sure yet what measures we would take.”

Despite the disruption to thousands of lives, the government still believes the Boeng Kak project will benefit the city. “We do not want the place to be unsafe like before, and we have to make it organized and produce workers and help grow the economy,” Mr. Dimanche said.

Mr. Chantha, however, is focused on the long and solitary struggle to survive.

His children make the most of their life amid the sand, playing with the scraps their father collects and embracing the rolling dunes as their expansive playground.

When her husband is at work and her children are in school, Ms. Vanna, too, likes to take walks around the sand. “I walk when it’s not hot,” she said. “You see new things.”

The Phnom Penh skyline has changed since they first moved here, with the curving facade of the Vattanac tower now rising above the dunes. In the distance, more construction is underway.

Ms. Vanna hasn’t gone back to her hometown since the birth of her first child, and she longs to return one day. “I want to go to my province but my husband doesn’t want to,” she said.

Her husband says he’s thinking of the children’s future. “I want them to have a good education in the city,” he said.Mr.  Chantha has put his foot down: The family is not going anywhere.

 


ខុនដូ ផ្ទះល្វែង វីឡា មណ្ឌលពាណិជ្ជកម្ម សណ្ឋាគារ និង អគារជាច្រើនទៀត ចាប់ផ្តើមរំលេចរូបរាង លើដីបឹងកក់

October 9, 2015

ប្រភព៖​ dap-news ដោយ៖ ដើមអម្ពិល (DAP), ID-009​ ថ្ងៃទី០៩ តុលា ២០១៥

ភ្នំពេញ៖ អគារខុនដូ ផ្ទះល្វែង វីឡា មជ្ឈមណ្ឌលពាណិជ្ជកម្ម សណ្ឋាគារ ដែលមានកម្ពស់ខ្ពស់ៗ កន្លែងលេងកីឡា  រួមនិងអគារផ្សេងៗជាច្រើនទៀត ចាប់ផ្តើមរំលេចរូបរាងជាបណ្តើរៗ ហើយនៅលើដីអភិវឌ្ឍន៍បឹងកក់ ក្រោមទុនវិនិ យោគ មិនតិចជាង ៣០០លានដុល្លារអាមេរិកនោះឡើយ។ សំណង់អគារប្រណីតៗ រួមជាមួយប្រព័ន្ធផ្លូវ ភ្លើង និង  សួនច្បារដ៏ទំនើប។ គម្រោងអភិវឌ្ឍដីបឹងកក់របស់ក្រុមហ៊ុនស៊ូកាគូអ៊ីនដែលស្ថិតនៅលើលើផ្ទៃដីទំហំជាង ១០០ហិ កតាកំពុងលេចរូបរាងនេះ បាននិងកំពុងចូលរួមលើកសម្រស់រាជធានីភ្នំពេញ បន្ថែមពីលើការជួយសម្រួលការធ្វើ ដំណើររបស់រាជធានីភ្នំពេញឱ្យកាន់តែងាយស្រួលជាងមុន  ជាពិសេសកន្លែងចតយានយន្តដ៏សម្បូរបែប។

តំណាងក្រុមហ៊ុនស៊ូកាគូអ៊ីន បានប្រាប់មជ្ឈមណ្ឌលព័ត៌មានដើមអម្ពិល ឲ្យដឹងថា វត្តមានសំណង់អគារលើដីបឹង កក់ នេះ ត្រូវបានសាងសង់ឡើងក្នុងតំបន់ផ្សេងៗគ្នា។ អគារទាំងនោះរួមមាន៖ វីឡាប្រមាណ ៩០ខ្នង ផ្ទះសម្រាប់ ធ្វើអាជីវកម្ម កម្ពស់ ៥ជាន់ ប្រមាណ ២០០ខ្នង, ខុនដូ កម្ពស់ ១០ ទៅ ១២ជាន់ សណ្ឋាគារ រួមនិងអគារការិយា  ល័យ របស់ក្រុមហ៊ុនដែលមានកម្ពស់ប្រមាណ ៥ជាន់។ បច្ចុប្បន្នសំណង់ផ្ទះវីឡា ខុនដូ និងមណ្ឌលពាណិជ្ជកម្ម នានានេះ បានចាប់ផ្តើមប្រកាសដាក់លក់ និងជួលផងដែរ។

តំណាងក្រុមហ៊ុនស៊ូកាគូអ៊ីន ក៏បានឲ្យដឹងផងដែរថា ដើម្បីលើកសម្រស់សោភណភាពក្នុងតំបន់អភិវឌ្ឍន៍បឹងកក់  ជាពិសេសលើកកម្ពស់សុខភាព នៃការរស់នៅរបស់ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋនោះ ក្រុមស៊ូកាគូអ៊ីន បានកាត់ផ្ទៃដីប្រមាណ ៣០ ភាគរយ ពីផ្ទៃដីវិនិយោគជាង ១០០ហិកតា ដើម្បីសាងសង់ជាប្រព័ន្ធហេដ្ឋរចនាសម្ព័ន្ធ ជាពិសេសសួនច្បារតែម្តង ។ សួនច្បារទាំងនេះ គឺជាទីតាំងដ៏សំខាន់របស់ក្រុមហ៊ុន ដែលនឹងផ្តល់ឲ្យប្រជាពលរដ្ឋបានអង្គុយលេងកម្សាន្តនៅ លើផ្ទៃដីធំទូលាយ។ ឧទ្យាននេះមានកន្លែងលេងកីឡា និងកន្លែងសាធារណៈសម្រាប់អ្នកករស់នៅក្នុងរាជធានី ភ្នំពេញក៏ដូចជាប្រជាជនកម្ពុជាទូទៅ។

តំណាងក្រុមហ៊ុនដដែល បានបញ្ជាក់ផងដែរថា ក្រុមហ៊ុននឹងអភិវឌ្ឍតំបន់បឹងកក់នេះ ឲ្យក្លាយទៅជាទីក្រុងមួយដ៏ ទំនើប ដែលមានទាំងកន្លែងរស់នៅប្រកបដោយមនោរម្យ ផាសុខភាព សុខដុមនីយកម្ម ផ្សារទំនើប សាលារៀន  កន្លែងវិនិយោគ និងការផ្លាស់ប្តូរពាណិជ្ជកម្ម ពោលប្រជាពលរដ្ឋចូលទៅរស់នៅក្នុងតំបន់អភិវឌ្ឍន៍នេះ គឺមានគ្រប់ បែងយ៉ាងទាំងអស់។ ការដែលក្រុមហ៊ុនសម្រេចសាងសង់ឲ្យសព្វបែបយ៉ាងនៅក្នុងតំបន់អភិវឌ្ឍបឹងកក់ នេះ ដើម្បី ឆ្លើយតបកំណើនរបស់ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋ ដែលជួបការលំបាកក្នុងការធ្វើចរាចរក្នុងរាជធានីភ្នំពេញនាពេល បច្ចុប្បន្ន ក៏ ដូចជាទៅថ្ងៃអនាគត។

ការអភិវឌ្ឍន៍បឹងកក់ បានពុះពារនូវឧបសគ្គជាច្រើននោះ បច្ចុប្បន្ន ផ្លូវចំនួនពីរខ្សែជាសមិទ្ធផលបឋម ដោយ១ ខ្សែ ភ្ជាប់ពីផ្លូវសហព័ន្ធរុស្ស៊ីទៅផ្លូវទំនប់ទួលគោក និង១ខ្សែទៀតភ្ជាប់  ពីមហាវិថីព្រះមុនីវង្សក្បែរស្ថានីយរថភ្លើង ទៅ កាន់ផ្លូវវត្តនាគវ័ន្ត បាននិងកំពុងចូលរួមចំណែកយ៉ាងសំខាន់សម្រាប់ សម្រួលការកកស្ទះ និងការធ្វើចរាចរណ៍ក្នុង រាជធានីភ្នំពេញ ក្នុងខណ្ឌដូន ពេញ ៧មក ខណ្ឌទួលគក និងឬស្សីកែវ។ ក្រុមហ៊ុន ក៏កំពុងសាងសង់ បង្គោលភ្លើង  និងតបណ្តាញអគ្គិសនី ដើម្បីបំភ្លឺផ្លូវនាពេលរាត្រី គ្រាដែលប្រព័ន្ធលូ ត្រូវបានរៀបចំស្ទើរតែរួចរាល់ មិនឲ្យមានការ ជនលិចនៅពេលមានភ្លៀងធ្លាក់ដូចឆ្នាំកន្លងទៅទៀតនោះឡើយ។

ក្រៅពីផ្លូវទាំងពីរខ្សែ ដែលរួមបម្រើប្រយោជន៍ដល់ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋក្នុងរាជធានីភ្នំពេញ ដែលកំពុងមានកំណើនជា រៀង រាល់ថ្ងៃនេះ តំណាងក្រុមហ៊ុនបានសម្តែងការរំពឹងទុករបស់ខ្លួនថា ក្រោយពីគម្រោងទាំងអស់ នៅក្នុងតំបន់ អភិវឌ្ឍ ន៍បឹងកក់ ត្រូវបានសាងសង់រួចរាល់ជាស្ថាពរហើយនោះ វានឹងចូលរួមចំណែកកាន់តែប្រសើរ ថែមទៀត ក្នុងការ ទាក់ទាញវិនិយោគិន ដើម្បីបង្កើតការងារជូនប្រជាជន និងចូលរួមចំណែកក្នុងកំណើនសេដ្ឋកិច្ចកម្ពុជា។ ជាពិសេស ប្រព័ន្ធហេដ្ឋារចនាសម្ព័ន្ធ ផ្លូវ សួនច្បាររំលេចដោយភ្លើងពណ៌ល្អ ស្រស់ ព្រមទាំងសម្រស់អគារតូចធំ ខ្ពស់ ដ៏ល្អ ប្រណីតជាច្រើនទៀតនោះ ក៏ជាចំណែកថ្មីមួយទៀតសម្រាប់  លើកកម្ពស់សម្រស់រាជធានីភ្នំពេញ និង ការរស់នៅ របស់ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋ ដែលធ្លាប់តែជាទីក្រុងស្ងប់ស្ងាត់ ក្រោយងើបចេញពីភ្លើងសង្រ្គាមនោះ៕

 

 

 

 


For Families, World Bank Project Falls Short

June 25, 2015
Source: The Cambodia Daily,By and | June 25, 2015

SANTUK DISTRICT, Kompong Thom province – Hang Sal has 2 hectares of fertile land he cannot farm.

He, his wife and their three children were among the lucky 3,000-plus families with little or no land that were awarded private plots on eight new social land concessions set up by the Ministry of Land Management since 2008 with help—and $12.7 million—from the World Bank and Germany’s foreign aid agency, GIZ.

But Mr. Sal was also unlucky, because his 2 hectares on the Ti Po II concession are in the middle of a forest.

“I have no money to clear it,” he said Wednesday, standing next to his modest stilt home on the forest’s edge. “I am very poor, so every day I work for someone else to make money to support my family.”

Mr. Sal cannot afford to hire others to clear the land, so he chips away at it himself when he can. But that’s not often, because he is usually away working on someone else’s cassava or rubber plantation to earn a living.

Though happy to have the land, he said his life has not improved since moving onto the concession three years ago.

“For some people, it is unfair; some got good land and some got bad land,” he said. “I know many families that did not stay because they could not farm their land.”

A new study of the project released Wednesday by rights group Licadho, “On Stony Ground: A look into social land concessions,” says Mr. Sal is not alone.

After visiting all eight sites between October and March, Licadho says the project, which wrapped up in March, has so far mostly failed to deliver on its goals and left most of the families little to no better off.

It urges against using the experience as a model for a planned second phase which, if approved by the World Bank, would effectively lift a freeze on new lending to Cambodia the Bank imposed four years ago because of the government’s poor record on land rights.

“While additional support is needed to meet the promises of reduced poverty and increased food security for many of the families supported by LASED [Land Allocation for Social and Economic Development], the World Bank and GIZ first need to acknowledge that the project is far from a replicable model, and nowhere near a success story by any standards,” the report says.

Licadho’s findings also contrast sharply with the Bank’s own glowing opinion of its work on the project, which—on paper, at least—doled out 10,000 hectares of land to the families across the eight concessions in three provinces: Kompong Cham, Kompong Thom and Kratie.

In its last review of the project, in December, the World Bank gave itself solid marks across the board. It said all four of its main goals had been met. The more than 3,000 families had all been assigned land for homes, farms, or both, and nearly 60 percent of them had moved in. Of the families that had moved in, the Bank said all of them had started farming and that their incomes had, on average, more than quadrupled.

“The activities and accomplishments have provided good lessons learned for the identification, development and sustainability of future [social land concession] sites,” the Bank said at the time.

But Licadho said the reality for many of the families at all but one of the sites is not so rosy. It says many of the families complained of land that was too sandy or rocky to farm, or covered in forest they lacked the means to clear, of plots mired in land disputes, and of sites missing promised infrastructure, schools and clinics.

“Numerous villagers at seven of the eight sites reported limited ability to use the allocated agricultural plots and hence gained no significant improvement in terms of food security,” the report says. “As a result, poverty reduction was not achieved at the end of the project for the majority of the land recipients.”

According to the report, the government knew that at least two of the chosen sites were mostly covered with “poor” soil as early as 2006—two years before the project even began—thanks to a joint study by international consultants and local officials.

Licadho says some families have been forced to take on new debt to get by, find work as day laborers because their new farms were failing, or turn to logging.

As a consequence, the rights group says, some families have given up on the concessions and left. Based on its visits, it estimates that fewer than half of the 3,000 families assigned plots were occupying them, well below the nearly 60 percent claimed by the World Bank in December.

The Ti Po II concession should be home to 300 families. But Mr. Sal Wednesday estimated that fewer than 100 lived there now.

“Not many families live here,” he said.

Besides working for others to get by, he grows a few fruit trees in his yard and makes charcoal out of what he can log. He has taken out and repaid a $150 loan from a micro-lender and thinks he may have to do it again.

“Maybe, because I am very poor and I cannot make money,” he said.

Like Mr. Sal, Phal Sey, who moved onto the Ti Po II concession with her family three years ago, is surrounded by the remains of the ones who gave up.

“This family and that family did not stay,” she said, pointing to abandoned stilt homes across the narrow dirt road that runs in front of her own. “They built the houses, then they left. I don’t know how many, but many.”

Ms. Sey’s father also received a plot of sandy soil that has yet to prove its worth.

“First, he tried to plant rice, but it died. So he tried watermelon, but it did not grow well,” she said. “That’s why he’s going to try cashews.”

Ms. Sey said her father planned to start planting next month, now that the rain had started to fall regularly. But at the moment, she said, he was away working on someone else’s plantation so the family could survive.

“Since moving here, he has worked for other people,” she said.

But some families here are happy with what they have.

Half a kilometer down the road, Yin Khay said she and her neighbors had been blessed with good plots. Her own family has yet to clear most of their three hectares, and still has to borrow from neighbors now and then to buy rice.

But with money coming in from a small shop that sells snacks and vegetables, Ms. Khay has plans to save up enough to get the rest of their land cleared soon.

“It’s good soil,” she said. “Before, we could only farm on a small piece of land. Now we have more land and we can grow rice.”

Her neighbor, Nout Sam Aun, agreed. After three years here, he still relies on remittances from his two sons, who work at a garment factory in Phnom Penh. And he has seen neighbors unable to farm their own plots because other families that claim the same spot will not let them. But it’s better than what he had, he said.

“I think the social land concession is good because it gives land to people who did not have land, like my family,” he said.

But while getting the plots is one thing, keeping them is another.

One of the main goals of the LASED project is to give the families a piece of land they can own. But Licadho says the scheme is failing on that front, too.

By law, a family must occupy a plot on a social land concession for five consecutive years to qualify for a land title. But families that have been living on the sites for up to six are still waiting. Families that gave up and left, or intend to because their plots are of poor quality, may end up forgoing their claims.

“With the low settlement rates and limited use of agricultural land observed by Licadho…many land recipients risk failing to meet these conditions due to poor implementation of the project,” Licadho said. “Tenure security is by no means guaranteed for a sizeable part of the more than 3,000 land recipients.”

The World Bank did not reply to requests for comment. GIZ country director Adelbert Eberhardt declined to comment and said the request had been forwarded to the German Embassy, which also did not reply.

At the Ministry of Land Management, which is ultimately in charge of the project, spokesman Cheam Sophalmakara said the ministry was not aware of any of the problems the families say they are facing on the concessions.

“We require people who receive the social land concessions to follow the conditions and obligations, and if it is hard for them to follow the obligations, they should make a report and we will not ignore them,” he said.

Mr. Sophalmakara said plans for more roads, wells, houses, schools and clinics at the sites were underway. As for Licadho, he said the rights group was ill informed.

“Licadho should take a seat and talk instead of criticize the work of the experts. Our experts have received positive feedback, and I think the donors would not continue [the project] if it was not good enough,” he said.

In a statement accompanying its report, Licadho says both the government and the donors are to blame—the government for giving the families poor land, the donors for telling the government that the project is working and ready to be scaled up.

“The World Bank and GIZ cannot continue to deceive the public and other stakeholders,” Licadho director Naly Pilorge said in the statement.

The World Bank is preparing a second, $27-million phase to the project that would improve on the eight sites already established and add seven more.

To get started, though, the Bank will have to lift its moratorium on new lending to Cambodia, a proposal mired in its own controversy.

The World Bank imposed the lending freeze in 2011 in protest over the way the Land Management Ministry—the Bank’s future partner in any second phase of the LASED project—was doling out land titles.

Some 3,000 families were forced out of their homes in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak neighborhood because the ministry refused to let them apply. The Bank said it would not lift its freeze until the Boeng Kak dispute was settled, a condition the government appears unwilling to meet.


Study: World Bank Project for Landless Families Is Failing

June 24, 2015
Source: The Cambodia Daily,By Zsombor Peter | June 24, 2015

A seven-year project funded by Germany and the World Bank to give secure and fertile land to some of the country’s poorest families has so far mostly failed to deliver on its goals and left most of the families no better off, according to a new study.

The study by rights group Licadho, “On Stony Ground: A look into social land concessions,” contradicts the World Bank’s own glowing review of its work.

Licadho urges against using the project as a model for a planned second phase, which, if approved, would effectively lift a freeze on new lending to Cambodia the Bank imposed four years ago, precisely because of the government’s poor record on land rights.

“While additional support is needed to meet the promises of reduced poverty and increased food security for many of the families supported by LASED [Land Allocation for Social and Economic Development], the World Bank and GIZ [Germany’s foreign aid agency] first need to acknowledge that the project is far from a replicable model, and nowhere near a success story by any standards,” the report said.

In 2008, Germany and the World Bank put up a combined $12.7 million—most of it came from the Bank—to find 10,000 hectares across the country to give to more than 3,000 poor families with little or no land. With the Land Management Ministry’s help, they eventually secured eight social land concessions in three provinces: Kompong Cham, Kompong Thom and Kratie.

In its last review of the project, in December, three months before it ended, the World Bank gave itself solid marks across the board. It said all four of its main goals had been met. The 3,000-plus families had all been assigned land for homes, farms, or both, and nearly 60 percent of them had moved in. Of the families who had moved in, the Bank said all of them had started farming and that their incomes had, on average, more than quadrupled.

“The activities and accomplishments have provided good lessons learned for the identification, development and sustainability of future [social land concession] sites,” the Bank said at the time.

But Licadho, which visited all eight concessions between October and March, says the reality for many of the families at all but one of the sites is not so rosy. It says many of the families complained of land that was too sandy or rocky to farm, or covered in forest they lacked the tools to clear, plots mired in land disputes, and sites missing promised infrastructure, schools or clinics.

“Numerous villagers at seven of the eight sites reported limited ability to use the allocated agricultural plots and hence gained no significant improvement in terms of food security,” it said. “As a result, poverty reduction was not achieved at the end of the project for the majority of the land recipients.”

According to the report, the government knew that at least two of the chosen sites were mostly covered with “poor” soil as early as 2006—two years before the project even began—thanks to a joint study by international consultants and local officials.

Licadho says some families have been forced to take on new debt to get by, find work as day laborers because their new farms were failing, or turn to logging.

As a consequence, the rights group says, some families have given up on the concessions and left. Based on its visits, it estimates that fewer than half of the families assigned plots were occupying them, well below the nearly 60 percent previously claimed by the World Bank.

One of the main goals of the LASED project is to give the families a piece of land they can own. But Licadho says the scheme is failing on that front, too.

By law, a family must occupy a plot on a social land concession for five consecutive years to qualify for a land title. But families that have been living on the sites for up to six are still waiting. Families that gave up and left, or intend to because their plots are of poor quality, may never receive a title.

Some families have struggled to use their plots because they are claimed by someone else.

“With the low settlement rates and limited use of agricultural land observed by Licadho…many land recipients risk failing to meet these conditions due to poor implementation of the project,” Licadho said. “Tenure security is by no means guaranteed for a sizeable part of the more than 3,000 land recipients.”

Officials at the Ministry of Land Management could not be reached yesterday. Neither the World Bank nor GIZ responded a request for comment.

Due to its shortfalls, Licadho said, the project “has failed to achieve the levels of success required to be considered a replicable model to reduce poverty and increase food security for rural landless and poor Cambodians.”

But that is exactly what is happening.

In a 2014 report on the project, Germany said the Cambodian government was already replicating the approach in six provinces.

The World Bank is also preparing a second, $27-million phase to the project that would improve the eight sites already established and add seven more.

To get started, though, the Bank will have to lift its moratorium on new lending to Cambodia, a proposal mired in its own controversy.

The World Bank imposed the lending freeze in 2011 in protest over the way the Land Management Ministry—the Bank’s future partner in any second phase of the LASED project—was doling out land titles. Some 3,000 families were forced out of their homes in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak neighborhood because the ministry refused to let them apply for titles.

The Bank said it would not lift its lending freeze until the Boeng Kak dispute was settled, a condition the government appears unwilling to meet.


World Bank Urged to Speak Up for Bullied Protesters

June 23, 2015

Source៖  The Cambodia Daily  By Zsombor Peter | June 23, 2015

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says the World Bank is not doing enough to help people in Cambodia and elsewhere who are facing government harassment for speaking out against Bank-funded projects gone bad.

In a report released Monday, “At Your Own Risk: Reprisals against critics of World Bank Group projects,” HRW uses the mass eviction of Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak neighborhood as a prime example of the failings of the Bank and its private lending arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Anti-eviction activists—including some who were recently freed after being jailed on protest-related charges—demonstrate outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday against corruption in the judiciary. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Anti-eviction activists—including some who were recently freed after being jailed on protest-related charges—demonstrate outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday against corruption in the judiciary. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

The World Bank has conceded that mistakes it made designing and monitoring a now-defunct land titling project it was funding in Cambodia contributed to the forced eviction of some 3,000 families from Boeng Kak to make way for a CPP senator’s real estate project. Since 2008, residents who have protested against the project have been beaten by police at peaceful protests, detained, and repeatedly convicted and jailed on charges that have been rebuked as politically motivated.

“The World Bank has long said that public participation and accountability are key to the success of the development efforts it funds,” Jessica Evans, HRW’s senior international financial institutions advocate, said in a statement. “But the World Bank’s repeated failure to confront intimidation or harassment of people who criticize its projects risks making a mockery out of these principles.”

According to the report, the Bank’s inspection panel even found cases in some countries where the Bank’s own staff discouraged people from filing complaints against their projects. In Cambodia, Boeng Kak residents said the Bank urged them not to take their complaints of harassment to local NGOs “because criticizing the World Bank and government was ‘their job.’”

In 2002, HRW says, the World Bank spoke out against the Cambodian government’s crackdown on a protest, calling it “unacceptable” and accusing officials of hypocrisy. “Despite similarly brutal crackdowns in recent years,” HRW says, “the World Bank has remained silent.”

In its report, HRW offers the Bank several recommendations, including publicly denouncing any instance of government or corporate reprisal against project critics and urging the unconditional release of those detained on trumped-up charges.

It also recommends more pre-emptive steps, such as taking more care to assess the possibility of future reprisals before committing to a project, and getting the Bank’s corporate and government partners to guarantee that critics will not be harassed.

In Boeng Kak, few residents have been harassed as much as Tep Vanny. Often at the forefront of the protests against the neighborhood’s evictions, she has been repeatedly assaulted by security forces, detained, charged and jailed.

She agreed with HRW that the Bank has done too little to help her and her fellow protesters.

“We wanted to see the World Bank intervene to talk with the government when our people were put in jail, but we have never even seen them come to visit us,” Ms. Vanny said. “They have ignored us.”

In an emailed response to questions on the report, World Bank spokesman Bou Saroeun wrote that the Bank had “strong policies and mechanisms that address many concerns raised by human rights advocacy groups and civil society, and we are open to dialogue on improvements.”

“Fair and peaceful resolution of land conflict is critical to Cambodia’s sustained economic and social development,” he added. “We continue to discuss with the government on how to support the country’s development in a way that benefits all Cambodians.”

Before releasing the report, HRW also approached the World Bank for feedback on its allegations. According to the report, World Bank country manager Alassane Sow denied claims from protesters that he offered to raise their complaints with the U.N. and said he repeatedly encouraged them to “reach out” to local authorities about the land titles they were demanding.

The report adds that Mr. Sow said the reprisals against the Boeng Kak protesters were “not relevant.”

Mr. Saroeun did not address questions about these specific claims in his response.

According to the report, the Bank is developing guidelines on how to respond to reports of reprisals, and the IFC’s ombudsman has promised to consider HRW’s recommendations.

Though the Bank has not taken any obvious steps in reaction to the Cambodian government’s reprisals against Boeng Kak protesters, it did freeze new lending to the country in 2011 in objection to the neighborhood’s forced evictions.

The government reacted to the move by issuing land titles to the roughly 700 families who had yet to leave the neighborhood, letting them keep their homes. But it also downplayed the impact of the freeze, insisting that other international donors would happily fill in the funding gap.

Given China’s rise as a key donor and investor in Cambodia, observers say the government has a point.

But Phil Robertson, HRW’s deputy Asia director, said the government was still keen to keep the World Bank around, if only for the confidence its presence gives foreign investors.

“The Cambodian government knows that any departure of the World Bank from Cambodia would be a major blow to the confidence of investors thinking about directly investing in the country. Money is the ultimate king in Cambodia, and continuing investment inflows is a key part of ensuring that money keeps on coming in,” he said by email.

“The World Bank should be able to use that reality as sufficient leverage to get protesters released from custody and demand other civil society activists not be targeted.”

The pending arrival of China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a rival to lenders like the World Bank has made fears of their being sidelined in the region more acute. But Mr. Robertson said the Investment Bank, which has yet to declare its rights safeguard policies, still lacked the clout and credibility foreign investors want.


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