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Residents living by the railway near Samrong Estate in Por Sen Chey district in February of this year
Residents living by the railway near Samrong Estate in Por Sen Chey district in February of this year. Hong Menea

ADB railway cash not coming as direct aid

The Asian Development Bank plans to spend $1.4 million to help “increase the capacity” of a government committee tasked with providing additional compensation to families affected by a bank-funded railway rehabilitation project.

More than 3,000 families – who began making way for the $143 million project in 2010 – are still awaiting further compensation from the Inter-Ministerial Resettlement Committee (IRC), which is responsible for ensuring that families that lost land due to the project are not left worse off than before.

In January, the ADB’s internal watchdog found that the bank had failed to ensure resettlement was in compliance with its own safeguards. An action plan developed by the bank to rectify the problem is now being partially implemented by the IRC, which will rely on ADB loans.

The newly proposed $1.4 million in assistance – which has yet to be fully approved – will thus not go directly to affected families. Instead, three international and two local consultants will be hired to help the IRC produce “action plans” to improve its grievance redress mechanism, “build capacity for resettlement”, and extend an income restoration program for families at five relocation sites.

Eang Vuthy, executive director at Equitable Cambodia, an NGO which has long lobbied on villagers’ behalf, said that while he was happy the ADB was helping to improve the government’s resettlement capacity, the bank should also be providing funding directly to affected families.

“I think this is a lot of money, and they should focus on helping the families [who have] been suffering for years, instead of spending money on consultants like this.”

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