Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Development’ a dirty word, survey finds



‘Development’ a dirty word, survey finds

Community activists from Boeung Kak lake hold signs during a protest in Phnom Penh
Community activists from Boeung Kak lake hold signs during a protest in Phnom Penh in September last year, calling for the World Bank to reconsider a potential loan to Cambodia. Charlotte Pert

‘Development’ a dirty word, survey finds

After admitting there were “major problems” with its resettlement projects earlier this month, the World Bank has come under fire from Boeung Kak lake residents in a new report from a human rights group.

The report by the International Accountability Project (IAP), titled Back to Development, includes the results of interviews with 100 Boeung Kak evictees, the vast majority of whom reported being deeply unsatisfied with the bank’s view of “development”.

“For us and many other people in Cambodia, the Boeung Kak lake evictions have become a symbol of how the word ‘development’ is something to fear as a life-destroyer in our country,” said Sek Sokunroth, a member of the Boeung Kak lake community, who helped carry out the survey after receiving training from IAP.

Respondents did not understand how the luxury apartment complex planned for the site constituted “development” or why they had not been consulted about the plans. They also said a “culture of fear” followed the “widespread use of force” against residents, whose livelihoods did not improve after being compensated, and until today had made “no progress” towards land tenure security.

In a statement earlier this month, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said the Bank had “found several major problems” with its resettlement policies.

“We haven’t done a good enough job in overseeing projects involving resettlement … we haven’t implemented those plans well enough … we haven’t put in place strong tracking systems to make sure that our policies were being followed. We must and will do better,” he said.

The bank is currently mulling new loans to Cambodia after an almost four-year hiatus since lending was suspended in 2011 amid fierce criticism over the Boeung Kak evictions.

It had intended to hold public consultations in late 2014 or early this year before approving a $25-million project, called LASED II, which could involve forced relocation. No such consultations have yet taken place.

Bou Saroeun, a World Bank spokesman, said the date for approving the LASED II project “remains to be determined”.

“It will be determined only after consultations are held in advance of the preparation of the upcoming Country Engagement Note. Those consultations have not yet been scheduled,” he said.

Sokunroth said the community remains “concerned”.

“We see that development focused only on high-level economic numbers and measures can make it seem like Cambodia is becoming richer, but then at the same time, so many citizens’ lives are being destroyed and impoverished.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • No more Africa travel ban but new rules for arrivals

    The Ministry of Health has decided to lift the ban on travellers from or who have travelled through 10 African countries and instead issued a set of standard operating procedures to manage passenger arrivals at Cambodia’s international airports. The 10 African countries are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho,

  • Cambodia purchases 4 million Molnupiravir tablets

    Cambodia has arranged for the purchase of four million US-made Molnupiravir pills – enough to treat 100,000 Covid-19 patients – even though the current rate of daily infections in Cambodia remains low. The medicine will be distributed to state hospitals, pharmacies and private clinics, according to the Samdech

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • Is Cambodia’s travel sector in for another cheerless holiday season?

    The travel and tourism sector was heaving back to life as borders started to reopen, promising a festive vibe for the holidays and New Year. But Omicron and other Covid-related issues are threatening to close the year on a bleak note ‘Seems [like] Covid-19 won’

  • PM blasts Vietnam general over Covid claims

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on December 6 expressed dismay after Vietnamese general Hoang Xuan Chien, formerly in charge of Vietnam’s border defences, claimed that Cambodia was a source of Covid-19 transmissions to the country. Speaking at the opening ceremony for National Road 11 connecting Prey Veng