23 February 2022
This report is an assessment of poverty in urban poor communities in Phnom Penh. This report has found many concerning trends with regards to land and tenure security, and access to food and public services, all of which should be addressed as a matter of urgency by local authorities, and the government. 958 households were selected for interviews for this study, which constitutes an insight into the situation of 42 urban poor communities around Phnom Penh.
One of the findings listed in this report is the worrying lack of family documentation for urban communities. 47% of respondents claimed not to have their family book at home. This is especially concerning as family books are crucial for being able to vote, or to be registered for ID poor. The ID poor system has itself been strongly criticised by community members:
‘Nearly two thirds (64%) of respondents expressed the need for further assessment to be carried out for ID Poor. Respondents stated that they believe the system has missed poor families who are eligible for ID Poor.’ (Poverty Assessment, STT)
The absence of a family book or registration onto the ID poor system can cause risks regarding tenure security. A family book is necessary to obtain ID poor status. This is especially urgent as the report has also found that some families have faced forced evictions over the last five years. The study has found that almost 50 respondents have endured forced evictions during that timeframe.
While this report highlights ongoing issues related to evictions, the report delves deeper into the social intricacies of housing and shelter, access to healthcare, food, and electricity, family vulnerabilities, and debt. Poverty has continued to affect many urban communities throughout Phnom Penh, and this has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Saran Soeung, the executive director of STT explains:
‘Urban poverty is mostly disregarded. There are many problems ranging from income insecurity, land tenure security, health care, children’s education, and sanitation. These problems seem to have been overlooked by relevant stakeholders. Communities are increasingly at risk of an extensive range of vulnerabilities.’ (Saran Soeung, Executive Director, STT)
Concerning the threat of evictions, local authorities and the government need to facilitate dialogue between urban poor communities and potential evictees. This report has shown that victims of forced evictions are typically faced with threats, intimidation, and humiliation. There needs to be community consultations, transparency, and ongoing dialogue with relevant government institutions when a big development project has the potential to cause displacement and eviction.
For further information please contact:
Mr. Soeung Saran, Executive Director of Sahmakum Teang Tnaut.
Tel: 089 666 013
Mrs. Prak Sotheary, Research Advocacy Advisor at Sahmakum Teang Tnaut.
Tel: 012 464 500