Accelerating the mapping and titling of rural farmland should be an “urgent” priority of the government and civil society, particularly when it comes to protecting indigenous peoples’ and women’s rights, Oxfam representatives said yesterday.
The remarks followed the release of an EU-funded survey of rural communities’ perceptions of their land rights carried out by the Royal University of Phnom Penh in collaboration with five local NGOs in Kampong Thom, Kratie, Preah Vihear and Stung Treng provinces.
Chris Eijkemans, Oxfam country director, said there was an urgent need for government and civil society to provide support to rural farming communities.
“I was shocked to see … that, in fact, 60 per cent [of project interviewees] feared losing control of their natural resources,” he said.
“It’s very urgent that we start to do something about it.”
RUPP’s Dr Neth Baromey, who led the study, said the need was especially great for indigenous minorities and women.
“Communal land titling for indigenous peoples is urgently needed,” he said.
“Ethnic people are especially vulnerable, so we need mechanisms to ensure accountability.”
Baromey added that women should be better included in decision-making on the allocation of economic and social land concessions.
Than Bunly, a program officer at Oxfam, said that despite the passing of a moratorium on the allocation of ELCs, private companies continue to exploit rural communities’ land.
“Some community forests have been registered but private companies continue to exploit them and this has had a great [negative] impact on the communities,” Bunly said.
“We must accelerate the process of giving land rights to indigenous people so indigenous rights can be respected and are better protected. We will also encourage women to participate in land administration,” Bunly added.