February 18th, 2008
Land ownership and development is taking off in Cambodia, but it is not without its problems. Take, for instance, this anecdote I was given as background: there’s a community that has lived on the Mekong River for years but the government is proclaiming eminent domain, intending to build a park. However, this person says it is very likely a land developer will put hotels on the river front property and someone, somewhere, will get a kickback.
Thus is the nature of land development in Cambodia.
Lower income people are having their homes razed and are being transported to sites 15-20km outside the city where they are plunked down with no utilities, even further from their place of employment, increasing their hardship and their vulnerability to exploitation.
That vulnerability may mean a teenage boy will head abroad on the promise of a good labor job, only to find himself exploited and unpaid on a Thai fish-processing factory boat. Or, a parent may lease a child to a begging gang, sell an adolescent girl to a brothel for her virginity, or the mother herself may turn to prostitution in order to feed her family.
I went out for an afternoon to see the Andoung Relocation Site. Here are some images and audio.
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