The World Bank approved a $93 million credit for the Cambodia Land Allocation for Social and Economic Development scheme on Friday.

The credit is slated to help improve the security of land tenure, infrastructure access and agricultural and social services for poor and landless people and indigenous communities in Cambodia.

“Helping small farmers and rural communities to access land and natural resources in a sustainable and secure way is central to the Royal Government’s poverty reduction strategy,” said a World Bank press release.

It said the government has set up a legal framework for social land concessions that extends land tenure to landless and poor rural people.

The government also promotes the granting of land tenure rights to indigenous communities to extend their rights to land.

“Access to land, better agriculture practices and extension services to improve productivity are crucial for the rural poor,” it said. The phase III project is known as LASED III.

“LASED III will help the government to continue providing land and land titles to landless and land-poor families and ensure land tenure security for indigenous communities in the project targeted areas,” World Bank country manager for Cambodia Inguna Dobraja said.

The press release said LASED III will further expand the achievements of Phase I and Phase II in the implementation of the social land concession programme.

The granting of land tenure rights to indigenous communities will also support the ongoing process of land titling of indigenous communities. The project will assist communities that have completed the land titling process of indigenous communities.

“LASED III will cover 71 sites and communities in all provinces in Cambodia except Phnom Penh. The project will support building rural roads, small-scale irrigation systems, water supply and sanitation facilities, school buildings, teachers’ houses, health posts and community centres.

“New social land concession beneficiaries will receive assistance for their first-year crops, including seedlings,” the press release said.

Since 2008, the World Bank-supported LASED Phase 1 and Phase 2 have helped to promote land allocation to the poor in a sustainable and transparent process, said the bank.

“These projects have supported rural development, construction of small-scale irrigation, primary schools, and health centres, provided training for agricultural improvement techniques, and supported more services for farmers,” the press release said.

Through these two phases, Cambodia has allocated 17,000ha of housing land and agriculture farmland to more than 5,000 landless and land-poor families. Of them, more than 3,360 families have received land titles, according to the bank.

“The project will also provide technical assistance to implement climate-smart agriculture techniques, establish organisations for production and marketing activities, and manage community funds to scale up local economic activities,” the release said.