Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Urban poor more likely to lack titles: report

Urban poor more likely to lack titles: report

A man tends to his shop last year near Phnom Penh International Airport
A man tends to his shop last year near Phnom Penh International Airport, where residents are to be evicted and houses destroyed. Pha Lina

Urban poor more likely to lack titles: report

Cambodia's land-titling review process lacks transparency and clarity and is in danger of leaving behind Phnom Penh’s urban poor, according to a new report.

Since the Systematic Land Registration (SLR) program was established in 2002, the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction has granted about 3 million land titles, Ministry Land Administration Director Suon Sopha said at the report’s unveiling in the capital yesterday. Most of those titles, however, have been granted in rural areas.

In Phnom Penh, many urban poor communities (UPCs) located in areas where land is valued at significantly higher rates, and therefore more likely to be contested, remain absent from the registry, the report, commissioned by the NGO Forum of Cambodia and World Vision, found.

“We’re seeking to understand the reason for the exclusion of these UPCs and the impact it has on the people,” said NGO Forum research officer Sao Vicheka.

Half of the 60 households residing in the 12 poor communities surveyed for the study had not been informed of the official reason for their exclusion – the fact that their homes sit on public land and have never been properly registered.

“I want to clarify that the reason for this is because they are residing in public land,” Sopha said. “They could apply to register their lands . . . but as of today, I have not received any request forms from the communities.”

Only 14 of the households surveyed possess soft titles, while the rest have insufficient or no proof of land possession whatsoever and only a vague knowledge of how to register their land.

“The people we spoke to in the communities, and even some of the local officials, obviously didn’t know what was going on, how to get a land title and the legal requirements required,” said researcher Brigitte Bouhours, who was consulted for the report.

Lack of proper land-titling has created a litany of adverse impacts on residents living in UPCs.

Forty-eight per cent of respondents said they are fearful of eviction, while 10 per cent feel they are “living in limbo” and are experiencing difficulty planning for the future.

According to some residents, the lack of a formal title has also led to difficulties in borrowing money from banks and selling their properties at market rates.

Establishing precisely what problems those in UPCs face is only the first step, however, researchers said yesterday.

“These are our findings so far, and in the future, we want to develop a solution on how to help the poor communities on these lands,” Vicheka said. “But this is the first step.”

The Land Management Ministry is currently in discussion with stakeholders regarding ways to improve the land registry’s adjudication process, Sopha said.

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,