FIELD VISIT OF EU, DCA, CEDAC AND LWD TO LLP-BTB PROJECT IN BATTAMBANG PROVINCE
Between September 18th and 20th, 2012, Mr. Bao Vuthy, Program Coordinator of CEDAC, together with representatives of the EU, DCA and the LLP-BTB project staff, conducted field visit to the project target area of Boueng Pram Commune in Battambang’s Bavel District. The purposes of this visit were to assess conflicts over agricultural land, to review and monitor the project’s progress, and to understand the tasks and responsibilities of the youth-volunteer group of Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen. Over the duration of the visit, four different groups were consulted. Approximately 70 participants joined the consultation meeting, including commune councilors, village chiefs, advocacy group members, saving group committees, and the youth-volunteer group.
The main results and achievements of the visit are as follows:
It is important to note, that with funding support from European Union (EU) and DCA, CEDAC and Life with Dignity (LWD) have been implementing a development project entitled “Securing Rights to Land and Sustainable Livelihood in Battambang Province (LLP-BTB).” This project covers a period of 36 months, starting from January 1st, 2011 to December 31st, 2013.
- We learned about the progress of the social land concession unit, the demarcation of residential and agricultural land, details about the contested areas that were occupied by a small group of 11 people and the impacts of saving group.
- We knew that there were farmer households living in Boeung Pram Zone since 2006 and they have already received residential land from the government with an area of around 700 ha (equal to 0.16 ha per household). An area of 836 ha (equal 0.6 ha per farmer household) was provided for agriculture, but this area is now contested, prohibiting farmer households from using the land productively. In general, each household that has been living in the SLC should receive at least 2 ha to 5 ha based on the SLC law. However, due to the limited size of the allotted land in this area, the government has committed to allocating an area of 1 ha per household for all farmer households as the next step. Additionally, villagers are now asking the representatives of EU, DCA, CEDAC and LWD to raise this important issue with the Cambodian government, especially Samdech Hun Sen Prime Minister.
- The advocacy group members played an important role in solving some problems in the community and they have been working hard to end the land conflict through the collection of finger print signatures from villagers, writing letters for submission to the provincial governor and the provincial department of land offices, as well as disseminating some information from the provincial and district offices to the communities.
- We gained a better understanding of the responsibilities of the youth-volunteer group. They have thus far only worked with land which was not under conflict. Contested land was not under their responsibility but rather the responsibility of the provincial government or district officials. Thus far, there are about 2334 plots of residential land that have already been demarcated; a list was made public on September 22nd, 2012. Regarding agricultural land, they plan to make demarcations in the near future and expect to be finished in December of 201, unless government officials solve conflict over these lands sooner.
- The saving groups have also played an important role in providing some loans with a low interest rate of 3% per month (in contrast to the standard 20% per month for individual loans to small farmers) for investment in agricultural activities such as buying seeds, land preparation, house rehabilitating, medical treatment, etc. Additionally, there are many small farmers who are interested in this program and plan on joining the group for the upcoming year.