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New homes for dump families

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Former scavenger families from the Stung Meanchey dump site draw numbers Saturday for new plots of land near Oudong Mountain in Kandal province.

Ex-scavengers hope to start tourism businesses at Oudong Mountain.

ONE month after City Hall closed Stung Meanchey dump, members of the more than 500 families who formerly earned their living as scavengers there on Saturday received plot numbers for new land located near Oudong Mountain in Kandal province.

The families contributed 277,000,000 riels (US$67,282) towards the purchase of the land, whereas the municipality's Urban Poor Development Fund (UPFD) contributed 625,000,000 riels, said Pen Van Doeun, the chief of Damnak Thom Samakei commune.

The families will be required to pay back the UPDF loan at a rate of 1,200 riels per day.

Each plot of land measures 4.5 metres by 12 metres, Pen Van Doeun said, adding that the families can move there whenever they want.

Several of the Stung Meanchey scavengers, most of whom had been renting property near the dump site, said they were eager to start new businesses that they said would cater to tourists.

"Even though we lost our jobs at the old dump, we are excited to move to a tourism site," said Toch At, a former scavenger.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said he was "really proud" of the 535 families.

"They are garbage collectors, but they had a good idea to save money together and to buy their own land," he said. "Who believed they could do that?"

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