January 24, 2011 — Khiev Hieng, a 58-year-old widow, shows her excitement as she draws a lottery card from a plastic container. The card is for a plot of land being distributed to poor and land-poor families. Hieng’s card allocates her a 30 x 40-meter plot to build a house on, and 3.5 hectares of agricultural land for herself and six family members—her grand-children and her widowed daughter, who is currently working in Thailand to support the family.
“I am really happy—I have land now!” Hieng laughs. “I’m going to ask my daughter to come back from Thailand and help me to grow crops on our new land.”
Khiev Hieng is one of 479 poor and land-poor families in Tipo commune in Kampong Thom province each granted farm land and a house plot through a project called Land Allocation for Social and Economic Development Project (LASED), which is financially supported by the World Bank and technically supported by the German Society for Technical Cooperation (GTZ). LASED provides land, livelihood support, infrastructure, schools, health centers and markets to poor and land-poor families in three provinces—Kampong Cham, Kratie, and Kampong Thom. So far LASED has given land and livelihood support to 1,254 families. Hieng is one of 288 families headed by a woman.
Sin Sina, a female deputy community leader at a land allocation zone in Kratie province, praised the project support and encouraged women to participate in its process.
“I encourage women to help augment their family’s income by growing some crops while their husband is away working,” she said. “Now we have land, we try our best to get out of poverty.”
Khat Sok Kheoun, Deputy Director at Kratie Provincial Women’s Affairs Department, said: “Women are the most vulnerable. To help them to understand their rights, access to services, and become involved in decision making is crucial.” She added: “Now I see that women, particularly the poor, are becoming bold enough to make decisions without waiting for their husbands to come back from a distant workplace, and daring to ask questions, and to demand services.”
Kham Sopheap, Deputy Chief of the Provincial Cabinet and LASED Officer in Kratie province, said, “Women are the backbone of the family’s economy. They think about their children’s education, their family’s livelihood. So we have to help them.”
Khan Chamnan, Kratie-LASED Project Director, said 60% of women are joining the process of land allocation and all of them have to sign their own legal paper for their land title.