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LUPUs stop demined land theft

LUPUs stop demined land theft

lupus.jpg
lupus.jpg

In close proximity to danger in Battambang province, but at least her parents will still have the land when the deminers have gone.

A

recent workshop to discuss the theft of recently demined land heard that a joint

government-NGO initiative had virtually eliminated the problem.

Five provincial Land Use Planning Units (LUPUs) met for the first time on December

2 in Battambang to share information and ensure standardization and good practice.

A LUPU spokesperson said that since the program started operating three years ago,

land grabbing had virtually disappeared. No problems have yet been reported.

"It's such a strong process because it involves local people at the grassroots

level," she said. "LUPUs don't decide what's going to be de-mined - that

comes out in the facilitation process with the locals."

LUPU is a government-run program responsible for planning and coordinating demining

activities, informing villagers of their rights, and ensuring that the cleared land

goes back to them.

Prum Sophak Monkol is the deputy director of regulation and legislation at the Cambodian

Mine Action Authority (CMAA), the country's over-arching demining body.

He said the meeting, which brought together government officials and NGOs from Battambang,

Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey, Banteay Meanchey and Pailin, had proven a great success.

"LUPU works very well. [However], the meeting found many different standards

in all provinces," Monkol said. "We now want to standardize their work

for integration into a national system."

The LUPUs currently operate as independent units in the country's most heavily mined

provinces, but early next year they will be combined into a single group. CMAA proposed

that the new provincial bodies be known as Mine Action Planning Units.

Several NGOs have supported LUPU, including Handicap International Belgium (HIB).

Reuben Moguira-McCarthy, an HIB coordinator, said the provincial bodies should have

a strong future.

"The concept in principal is great, as it is a long-term perspective, not a

quick-fix solution," he said. "It's very unlikely there will be land grabbing.

If there is a land grabbing issue, it is likely to be extremely well hidden."

LUPU was set up in 1998 following consultations between government and NGOs concerned

at the widespread theft of freshly demined land.

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