Policy for the Poor?

Phnom Penh’s urban poor are under threat. Over the past two decades, 11% of the city’s current population has been displaced, often forcibly evicted, to poorer futures. A key government argument – when such arguments have been provided – has been that many of those affected have been illegal squatters, living on state public land. Habitually, however, there is no assessment of whether or not the occupants have rights to the land as legal possessors.

In May 2010, the Royal Government of Cambodia approved Circular 03 on Resolution of Temporary Settlement on Land Which Has Been Illegally Occupied in the Capital, Municipal, and Urban Areas (C03). In the context of on-going tenure insecurity among Cambodia’s urban poor, the Circular lays down a process through which the issue of occupation of state public land is to be ‘resolved’. With support from Germany through its development agency, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), C03 implementation has taken place in Battambang provincial town since late 2010. Implementation has commenced in Phnom Penh too, though seemingly conducted unilaterally by the Municipality of Phnom Penh.

While implementation continues, fundamental questions remain regarding the content of the Circular itself and the impacts of its implementation. The aim of Policy for the Poor? Phnom Penh, Tenure Security, and Circular 03 is to highlight some of the issues arising from the Circular as a policy document, and draw attention to the opportunities and risks arising from its implementation. It also aims to provide stakeholders in urban development in Phnom Penh with a better understanding of the extent to which Circular 03 meets the required legal standards to genuinely protect the rights of the urban poor through increasing their tenure security, and how practicable a tool it is for that purpose.

You can download the report, produced by STT’s research arm The Urban Initiative, here: Policy for the Poor?: