Report on a Visit to Cambodia for the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR), Bangkok

February 06, 2003

Discussions at the UPDF office. The following conclusions emerge:

  1.  The UPDF office staff needs to understand the structure of local government, the new devolution plan and what this means for the poor.
  2. The plan, its implications (both positive and negative), the functions and responsibilities of the Sangkats also needs to be explained to communities.
  3. Sangkats can now receive money from the outside directly. To help them to plan they need the documentation of their existing social and physical infrastructure. The Sangkats are small (about 20,000 population) so this should not be difficult.
  4. For documenting the Sangkats, young persons from the community should be trained in surveying and mapping. These persons should know how to read and write well and should be paid a stipend. (Can OPP-RTI help?)
  5. Two Sangkats should be selected. On the basis of the documentation a development plan should be made for them.
  6. These two Sangkats should become the training and demonstration areas for other Sangkats.
February 07, 2003

Meeting with Mr. Sochia, Minister for Women’s and Veteran’s Affairs.

The Minister is anti-mega projects, big loans, eviction of the poor and hawkers from where they are. She wants women to be a part of decision making and seeks ACHR collaboration for achieving these objectives. She is concerned about the conditions of hawkers in Poipet and wishes to do something for them.

We agree on the following:

  1. Workshops for women councilors on issues relating to:
    •  Local government devolution, its procedures and their responsibilities.
    •  Problems of the urban poor and possible solutions.
    • The larger economic and political framework within which they live and work.
    •  Creation of a Sangkat councilor’s network.
  2. A similar workshop series for women in the Savings and Credit Communities (Aurat Foundation Program can help).
  3. A study on the problems and possible solutions to the hawkers issues at Poipet perhaps leading to a rehabilitation plan supported by a credit programme for a hawkers cooperative (Saddar, Karachi, Hawker’s Rehabilitation Study is with the ACHR). Meeting with Deputy Governor.

The CDS study has to be linked to the government’s plans for Phnom Penh and ultimately its recommendations should be a part of it.

February 08, 2003

Site Visits

1. Buraikayla

  • The settlement has eight savings groups. 200 to 300 households out of about 1,400 families save. Before the savings groups there was no leadership in the community. There were only government appointed leaders. The male leader we met sells electricity and a female leader makes ice cream which her husband sells on a pushcart. All the leaders are from the savings groups.
  • People prefer homes/houses but consider building them impossible due to lack of space. So they have opted for flats.
  • The garbage project was explained to us. The URC has given US$ 2,538 to the community to clear the settlement of accumulated garbage. A tractor and a truck are carrying out this work which has been contracted out to a company. The company will finish the work in 10 days. 129 households out of 1,778 have contributed 430,000 R for the work.
  • If the community had raised funds for this work the cost would have worked out to US$ 1.5 per family and then the URC’s US$ 2,538 could have been used for putting a community managed solid waste management system in place. It would also have meant creating a larger community than the present savings groups.
  • A cycle pushcart cost US$ 30 and the salary of a scavenger is 100,000 R per month.

2. Ross Reay Settlement

Ideas on sewage system and road paving were given to the community and to Kakada. If the sewage system is not properly understood then the conventional should be used.

My feeling is that the community is not poor. So

  • The sewage and road paving should be funded through a grant.
  • House improvement, tree planting should be funded by the house owners with advice from Architect Kakada.
  • A multi-coloured housing project may look quite attractive. Should be considered.

3. Stengkambot

  • This is a settlement of very poor kiln workers on the river bank. They are being moved to a land that is prone to flooding. Earth filling for a site of 40,000 M2 is required. Estimates they have received for this earth filling is US$ 280,000. The cost of the land is US$ 140,000 at $ 3.50 per M2. There are 230 families living on the settlement.
  • The people are being moved although they had purchased this land from the government. They have papers to prove this.
  • People purchase water from a pond owned by the kiln owner. Each family pays the equivalent of US$ 50 per year for this water which means that collectively they pay US$ 11,500 per year of R 46,000,000. This could be their collective savings.
  1. Can a court case be made against this relocation since the community has paid for the land it is community living on?
  2. This, if properly designed, could be an example of a low cost development. The following is possible.
    • Earth filling should be for a periphery road which would act as an embankment against flooding.
    • Clusters of upto 30 houses each should be created off the embankment. As such there would be eight clusters.
    • Each cluster should have a cluster community plot for a hand pump and two temporary toilets.
  3. NGOs/UPDF could:
    • Find the earth filling of the embankment and a sewage drain along it to which clusters could connect later on a self help basis.
    • Hand pumps for the clusters.
    • Give loans to a cluster organization or to a entrepreneur in the cluster, if the skill is there, to buy and operate an electric generator so that the cluster can have electricity.
    • Establish a primary sewage treatment plant.
    • If shallow subsoil water is bad, support a community member with a loan for a deep tube well and associated system to give/sell good quality water to the community. A deep well water supplier from Ahlong Kngan could be his/her teacher.
  4. Alternatively the community could:
    • Raise money for the water pump : US$   80 or US$ 3 per household
    • Raise money for the generator  : US$ 300 or US$ 10 per household
    • Earth filling for the cluster road  : US$ 112 or US$ 3.75 per household
  5. The social fund of the World Bank provides finances for infrastructure and schools. Their involvement could be sought.
  6. Kakada will prepare a plan of the settlement on the above lines.
  7. Housing is not a problem. People will carry their existing houses with them.

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