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Are we entitled to our land? : A study of six informal settlements

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Title: Are we entitled to our land? : A study of six informal settlements
Author(s): Pho, Sanna
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Research
Discipline: Social Policy (prior to 1.8.2011)
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2013
In recent years, Cambodia has endured a siege of land conflicts, notably land grabbing. Land grabbing is a serious issue as it violates fundamental human rights and denies land from local communities. Moreover, the question of land ownership tends to exhaust informal dwellers as they have no legal documents to their land. Various international donors, especially the World Bank supported the Land Management Administrative Project (LMAP) in order to establish land titling in Cambodia. An important figure behind such proposal is Hernando De Soto. This research is primarily focused upon four crucial aspects of land and housing situation in informal settlements: the Cambodians conceptions of land ownership and their perceptions on land titling; the effects of private development; land disputes cases; and housing wishes/needs or recommendations from the locals. I seek to close the gap of previous research on landownership and land tenure in Cambodia. I have conducted a qualitative research that is based on twenty-one semi-structured interviews in Phnom Penh. In the literature review I draw on the history of land ownership in Cambodia and the Land Law, as well as land titling theory by De Soto (2000) and previous studies on the effect of land titling. The major findings are based on people’s conceptions of land ownership that were shaped by the 2001 Land Law. Although 18 of the 20 interviewees are without land titles, they still consider themselves as owners of their land. The interviewees referred to the 2001 Land Law, states that anyone who has occupied their land for five consecutive years prior to the Land Law has the right to apply for a definite title. Thus, the interviewees are inspired to obtain land title as they believe that land titling will prevent them from eviction. Only two of the twenty interviewees viewed land titling as insignificant and inefficient, this is mainly because the Government/authorities are corrupted and does not obey the Land Law. Such feelings stems from the corrupted and violent nature of the Cambodian Government/authorities. Land disputes in Phnom Penh mainly revolve around resettling/eviction of poor dwellers in informal settlements. Informal dwellers are often alienated from socioeconomic seriously hampered them from integrating into the society, thus, preventing them from finding formal jobs. As interviewees from the outskirt of the city confirmed relocation would mean that their living condition and housing situation will be significantly reduced. The interviewees want to stay in the city due to the great locations, proximity to services, and work. Interviewees stated that private development is 'making the poor poorer and the rich richer.' In general, slum dwellers are happy and satisfied to live in city center.
Keyword(s): land tenure land ownership informal settlements eviction relocation Cambodia Kambodza maa hallintaoikeus häätö uudelleensijoitus maanomistus

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