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FEATURE STORY December 13, 2021

Land, Infrastructure, and Skills: Three Ingredients for Better Rural Livelihoods in Cambodia

Community Projects Demonstrate Cambodia’s Resilience

World Bank Group


STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Land Allocation for Social and Economic Development Project (LASED) has allocated 17,000 hectares of residential and agriculture farmland to over 5,000 landless and land-poor families.
  • So far, 3,500 of the families have received land titles, which not only secure their legal ownership of the land, but also give them the confidence and collateral to invest in their property.
  • Under LASED project, 345 km of roads, 8 school buildings, 14 teachers house, 5 health posts, and 12 community centers and markets in the targeted villages have been built.

A 27-year-old widow, Long Vath, sits at the gate to her house in the Cambodian village of O’Thom, with her 4-year-old son and her mother, outlining her life to some strangers. Her visitors include Mariam Sherman, the World Bank Country Director for Cambodia, Myanmar and Lao PDR.

Vath’s mother, Choeun Von, is also a widow. Now aged 57, she moved to O’Thom, in Tipo commune, Kampong Thom province, in 2011 after the World Bank-supported Land Allocation for Social and Economic Development (LASED) project gave her land. This land was a blessing for a woman struggling to raise three children after her husband had been taken by illness.

Vath has lived here with her mother and siblings since then. The family have built a small house and little shop on their 30 x 40-meter residential plot. Outside the house they grow vegetables and raise chickens and fish. Vath received training  through the LASED project, and she makes around a million riel ($250) each month, selling her produce locally.

“I really appreciate the help of the project. It helped my mother get this land, and now it helps me, and my son live on the land,” Vath told her visitors. “The skills I’ve learned have helped me do better.”

The family is one of 779 households in Tipo who have received land under LASED since 2011. Choeun was allocated both residential and agricultural land, and on her 2.5 hectares of farmland, she grows rice and cashew nuts. The land is secured by titles, which were distributed in 2017.


Image

A 27-year-old widow, Long Vath (far left) showing her fish cultivation to Mariam Sherman, the World Bank Country Director for Cambodia, Myanmar and Lao PDR and visitor at O’Thom village.

Photo: Saroeun Bou / World Bank


At the village, Mariam and the team meet more people who received assistance from the project. As well as land and livelihoods skills, LASED has provided agricultural tools and training, roads, schools, health posts and more.

Villagers explain how the project has improved their lives, with some saying they expect continued success. The World Bank team also learned how COVID-19 is affecting their ability to make a living, to repay loans and the disruption caused to their children’s education. However, the situation has begun to improve, with schools reopening, and traders returning to buy the villagers’ produce.

Tipo is one of 14 sites supported by the second phase of the LASED project in five provinces — Kampong Speu, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Thom, Tbong Khmum, and Kratie. The project also supplied basic shelter materials and food aid to help them settle in to new their new homes. Infrastructure built to help all people in the target villages includes 345 km of roads, 8 school buildings, 14 teachers houses, 5 health posts, and 12 community centers and markets.

Through LASED, the government has allocated 17,000 hectares of residential and agriculture farmland to over 5,000 landless and land-poor families. So far, 3,500 of the families have received land titles, which not only secure their legal ownership of the land, but also give them the confidence and collateral to invest in their property.

“The people of O’Thom give a strong argument for the benefits of a more integrated approach to development as exemplified by the LASED project in Cambodia,” says Mariam Sherman. “This combination of land rights, basic infrastructure and livelihoods skills can clearly provide both immediate and long-term benefits. The people here and the project teams have worked hard to make a success of this investment.”  



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