As families at the Andong relocation area await their promised land, living conditions
at the site continue to deteriorate. In May 2006 thousands of families were evicted
from Phnom Penh's Sambok Chab village near the Tonle Sap and forcibly resettled to
this undeveloped paddy field 22km outside Phnom Penh.
A seven-day-old baby, born at the Andong relocation site, gets a checkup from Dr Sarin of the Licadho Medical team on February 13. The baby's mother said she smoked throughout the pregnancy, not knowing it could damage the baby.
Many families were told by City Hall they would be given parcels of land as compensation,
but nine months later they are still camping at Andong, which has no electrcity,
running water or sewerage, and public health is plummeting.
"The health of the people has got worse," said Dr Sarin Mean of the Licadho
Medical Team. "The main problem is diarrhea, which is caused by the bad conditions
at Andong. The water is dirty, the food bad; hygiene and sanitation are terrible."
The families have been forced to erect makeshift homes amid pools of stagnant, green
water which also serve as the community's latrines.
"When the weather gets hotter the situation will get much worse," Sarin
said. "The children pass stools anywhere, just on the ground. There are many
germs in their stools and these germs get into the water supply at Andong. People
then take this water to drink."
On February 13, two Andong villagers were collecting buckets of gray, murky water
from the pond adjacent to the site - which is also used as a latrine.
"We can't afford to buy the water from the [UNICEF installed water tanks]"
they said. "It costs 200 riel a bucket. We will boil this water and drink it."
And the chances of the families all being given their promised land seem slim.
"It's just math," said Marie-Laurence Comberti, President of the Association
Mondiale des Amis de L'Enfance (AMADE). "There are over 1,200 families left
but only some 300 parcels of land to give out. You can't do it."
Despite some achievements over the course of 2006, key donors have said the effective
regulation of land remains one of the most important development challenges facing
"It is a mixed picture," Canadian Ambassador Donica Pottie told the Post
on February 20. "There have been enormous achievements in issuing land titles
but the government of Cambodia and the donor community both recognize that implementation
of the land law and the regulatory framework is still a problem."