Cambodian villagers block Chinese developer from clearing grazing land

le 01/07/2015

Around 150 villagers in northwestern Cambodia’s Preah Vihear province have blocked a Chinese concession holder from clearing land they say was reserved for grazing their cattle, an official from a nongovernmental organization and a local commune chief said Wednesday.

The standoff came as a local rights group slammed a policy launched by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government for failing to deliver suitable land to the country’s poor and international donors for calling the policy a success. The 150 indigenous ethnic Kouy and majority Khmer villagers on Tuesday confronted two bulldozers dispatched by Chinese developer Rui Feng to clear their land in Chhaeb district’s Mlou Prey Phi commune, according to Bek Sophean, an official from the Preah Vihear-based NGO Ponlok Khmer.

Licadho report

On Wednesday, local rights group Licadho released a report saying that Cambodia’s Social Land Concessions (SLC) policy to transfer land to the country’s landless and poor had done little to benefit those groups since its launch in 2003. The group said its recent investigation into the U.S. $13 million SLC Land Allocation for Social and Economic Development (LASED) project showed it had been ineffective in assisting rural poor Cambodians, despite claims by donors the World Bank and German development agency GIZ that it was a success. “We found not only is the government’s lack of will to provide suitable land for poor Cambodians obvious but it appears that the donors have been more than willing to embellish results, claiming the project as a successful model for future replication” Licadho director Naly Pilorge said in a statement accompanying the release of the report “On Stony Ground, A Look into Social Land Concessions.”

The LASED project was launched in 2008 to prove that SLCs could contribute to reducing rural poverty by transferring land to 3,000 landless Cambodian families for residential and farming purposes. The World Bank has reported that the project exceeded planned targets, while GIZ has described it as a “cost-efficient replicable model guaranteeing significant positive impact on rural livelihoods.” However, Licadho estimated that less than 50 percent of the families that received residential land in the LASED SLC sites had remained at those sites at the time of its visits, while half of the SLC sites were not yet functional and will need “substantial financial and technical support to be minimally sustainable.

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Source : farmlandgrab