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The Bartlett Development Planning Unit

MSc Building and Urban Design in Development Student Report

dpu Development Planning Unit

Synchronizing with the rhythm of the people Transformation in a time of transition: engaging with people-driven upgrading strategies in Cambodia In partnership with ACHR and CAN-CAM



Acknowledgements Our field trip to Cambodia has been an incredible experience for all of us thanks to the amazing people we had the opportunity to work with. First and foremost our sincere thanks and appreciation go out to the residents and representatives of Anlong Kngan, Boeung Choeuk Meanchey Thmey 2 and Boeung Veng Reik Chamroeun. It was a pleasure and an honor to collaborate with these communities, who were so open in receiving and trusting us. And prepared the most delicious food we tasted during the whole trip.

0.1 _ From the first day, we received a very warm welcome with our cambodian partners who became good friends.

We want to thank the Khmer students on our team for their enthusiasm and commitment throughout the project and all we learned from them, on the field and on the dancefloor. The project would not have been possible without our local partners, CDF, CAN-CAM and ACHR, who put so much effort into organizing the workshop with attention that was felt in every detail. We deeply appreciate how they connected us to the

communities and shared their resources and experiences with us throughout the workshop. Of course, our own DPU tutors and staff have also put much effort and care into this research project and field trip Thank you for everything Giulia, Catalina, Giovanna, Giorgio, Camillo and the DPU admin behind the scenes. It was amazing. Also, our deep gratefulness goes out to the Cambodian weather after a winter in London.




Who we are

Jose Aguirre Ecuador

0.2 _ All the participants of the two week “City-wide upgrading transformation in Cambodia” workshop at Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh.

Cristian Robertson De F. Chile

Sharon Ambrosio Italy

Sri suryani Indonesia

Vishakha Jha India

Alexandra Pixley Netherlands

Yuexin Yan China

Hui Zeng China










Table of contents Acknowledgment Who we are Table of contents Acronyms Glossary of terms Executive summary

3 5 8 10 12 14



2. CONTEXTUALIZING CAMBODIA 2.1 Transition from colonization to indipendece 2.2 Violent transition from urban to rural : YEAR ZERO 2.3 Transition from communist occupation to capitalist 2.4 Understanding Cambodia’s current transition

23 26 28 30

68 70

5. STRATEGIES FOR TRANSFORMATION 5.1 Envisioning a city-wide upgrading strategy for transformation 5.2 Our strategy at country and city-scale 5.3 Areas of intervention

83 86

6. CONCLUSION AND REFLECTIONS 6.1 Conclusion 6.2 Role of practitioner

109 113 114

I. Bibliography II. List of figures III. Appendix

119 125 133

88 90


3. TRANSFORMATION IN TIME OF TRANSITION 3.1 Theoretical framework 3.2 Analytical framework 3.3 Principles

43 46 48 52

4. SITE & FIELDWORK FINDINGS 4.1 Understanding Cambodia through communities 4.2 Anlong Kngan: Recovering from relocation 4.3 Boeung Veng Reik Chamroeun: upgrading the

55 58 64 66


province 4.4 Boeung Choeuk Meanchey Thmey 2: Flooded by a Landfill 4.5 Key findings

0.9 _ This diagram illustrates our methodology in the research process as well as constructing the narrative of our report. Because we formulate and reformulate our research analysis, it was more circular than a linear process. It starts from understanding and contextualising Cambodia’s transition by analysing the historical and political forces that shaped the country. It leads us to our definition of transformation on which we formulate four principles as lenses to understand three sites during our fieldwork. In addition, we synthesize our site-findings and integrate the previous process to propose strategies through four areas of intervention. We conclude our research in Cambodia by a critical reflection of development practitioner during the process of transformation based on our experience.






Asian Coalition for Housing Rights Asia Coalition for Community Action Asian Development Bank Cambodian Human Rights Association Association of Southeast Asian Nations Boeung Choeuk Meanchey Thmey 2 Building Urban Design in Development Community Architects Network Community Architects Network Cambodia Community Based Organization China-Cambodia Friendship Association Community Development Management Council Cambodian Development Foundation Community Development Training Centre Cambodian People’s Party Communist Party of Kampuchea Community Saving Network Cambodia Development Planning Unit Democratic Kampuchea Economic Land Concession Front Uni National Pour un Cambodge Indépendant, Neutre, Pacifique, Et Coopératif (National United Front For An Independent, Neutral, Peaceful, And Cooperative Cambodia) International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights



International Monetary Fund Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Memorandum of Understanding Municipality Of Phnom Penh Ministry Of Land Management and Construction Master in Science National Community Development Foundation Non-Governmental Organization Office of Economic Cooperation and Development People for Care and Learning People’s Republic Of Kampuchea United Cities and Local Governments United Nations United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia Urban Poverty Development Fund Urban Poor Reduction Strategy Urban Resource Centre Southeast Asia Treaty Organization Shack/Slum Dwellers International Social Land Concessions State of Cambodia Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres Solidarity for the Urban Poor Federation World Bank



Glossary of terms Community: It refers to a group of people who are spatially/geographically tied. In Cambodia the term is used as a form of identify a group of people who are part of a monetary savings system Informal Settlement: Areas where groups of housing units have been constructed on land that the occupants have no legal claim to, or occupy illegally (OECD) Khan: Subdivision of the administration districts of Phnom Penh People’s Knowledge/ Local Technologies: Information and skills that are passed from generation to generation as basis for of activities that sustain societies (UNESCO) Phum: Subdivision of administration districts of Sangkat, usually translated as villages even though they do not necessarily cover one single settlement


Reblocking: Reconfiguration or reorganization of current spatial distribution of informal settlements which attempts to optimize the use of space in terms of safety, health and well-being of the settlement’s inhabitants. Relocation: The transference or movement of a group of people to a new settlement or location Resilience: The ability of a community or society to resist, absorb, accommodate to and recover from the effects of a hazard or poverty conditions in a timely and efficient manner (UN) Sangkat: Subdivision of administration districts of Khan Slum Settlement: Residential area that are physically and socially deteriorated and in which commonly lacks of adequate access to basic services and other infrastructure

Squatter Settlement: A residential area in an urban locality inhabited by the very poor, which has developed without legal claims to the land and/or permission from the concerned authorities to build Settlement Upgrading: Collectively plan and carry out improvement to the houses, environment, basic services and tenure security, using people as the centre of the process by managing and developing long-term comprehensive solutions to their problems of land and housing (ACHR) Upgrading: A physical/social improvements undertaken cooperatively among community groups and local authorities to ensure sustained progresses in the quality of life for individuals. (Cities Alliance, 2003).



Executive summary The report is a final research outcome prepared by the Masters students of Building and Urban Design in Development (BUDD) on developing strategies for “city wide transformation of Cambodia in a time of transition”. The research spanned four months including two weeks in Cambodia and was carried out by the Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU) in collaboration with their partners in Asia, the Asian Coalition of Housing Rights (ACHR), the Community Architects Network operating in Cambodia (CAN-CAM), the Community development Fund (CDF), the General Department of Housing of the ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction (MLMUPC), local universities and other actors involved in Cambodia’s urban development. The report is a synthesis of the research done across different phases: pre-field trip, during field and post-field trip. The research has been framed by the theme “Cambodia: Transformation in a 14

Time of Transition”. The main objective of the report is to develop a critical analysis of the transformative capacities and capabilities that exists within Cambodia, acknowledging the complex issues and externalities constantly shaping the vision of the city and country. This analysis develops into strategic proposals which emphasise the importance of transparency, knowledge exchange, collective action and visibility for moving towards positive transformation by meaningful collaboration in city development processes between various urban actors. The report starts from understanding and contextualising Cambodia’s transition by analysing the historical and political forces that shaped the country along the lines of three different transition phases that Cambodia had undergone. It further expands on Cambodia’s current situation and helps in scrutinising the pressing issues, the legal framework and the various actors shaping and affecting the

country’s development. Our understanding of transformation is established by the synthesis of our pre-field theoretical understanding of transformation amalgamated with the field experiences and building on post field trip analysis. Positive transformation is defined by us as a people-driven transformative process, which starts from grass roots movements or people’s initiatives and builds to influence higher political decisions shaping their city and country. Principles of collective action, transparency, visibility and local knowledge that evolved from this framework are re-evaluated based on our on-field experience and articulated towards constructing and framing strategies for transformation in the form of interventions. The three case-study sites in communities in Phnom Penh and Steung Sen, along with the other sites we visited, ground the challenges Cambodia faces in relation to

city-wide upgrading and transformation in the reality of the urban poor. The main issues and potentialities of the case-study sites are analysed through the lenses of the four principles. The reflections of the different sites are synthesis in the form of key findings that become entry points to develop the vision and strategy for Cambodia’s transformation.


The overarching strategy is to strengthen and align people-driven transformation initiatives and processes in order to impact and influence the larger transformations shaping the country’s vision. The strategy designed reflects the operationalisation of the theoretical base with the understanding of the practicalities based on field experience. By challenging existing power hierarchies and rethinking current urban development practices, our strategy puts forward a vision of city-wide upgrading that people-driven and produces more socially and environmentally sustainable cities. The strategy unfolds in four

different areas of interventions; social cohesion, savings groups, decisionmaking processes and collective spaces & infrastructure, which are interrelated and incrementally contribute to peopledriven city-wide upgrading. The report also reflects on the role of the development practitioner throughout all phases of the research and field work, highlighting the challenges of practice in creating spaces for people to start transformative processes.


“You don’t walk into the community, let the community walk into you” - Chawanad Phnom Penh







Site visit, 2015, Tasneem Nagi 18


This report is the result of a four month project done by students of the MSc Building and Urban Design in Development at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit, University College of London. The research is framed under the fieldtrip name “Cambodia: Transformation in a time of Transition”. The Field trip project has two key objectives: (a) to develop a critical diagnosis of the transformative potential at the citywide scale, and (b) to discuss and develop a range of collaborative proposals, which will contribute to the transformation of the living conditions of the urban poor in Cambodia (BUDD, 2015). The project is built upon a long-term partnership between the Development Planning Unit (DPU) and the Asian Coalition of Housing Rights (ACHR), along with the Community Architects Network (CAN) and its Cambodian branch CANCAM, the Community Development Foundation (CDF), the General Department of Housing of the ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning 20

and Construction (LMUPC), local universities and other actors involved in Cambodia’s urban development. It has been interesting and inspiring for us to work with such a diverse set of experienced actors. The recent approval of the National Housing Policy and the signing of an MOU between the Ministry of LMUPC, ACHR and CDF for its implementation, makes Cambodia a very dynamic context for our fieldwork. The processes started in London in February 2015 with an initial diagnosis of the case built upon literature review, lectures, seminars and focused research. The pre-field stage was completed with each group putting forward a definition of Transformation and Transition as well as a preliminary understanding of the key issues of Cambodia’s current situation, both to be tested and refined by experiences on the ground. The field trip (30 April - 15 May 2015) started with several site visits, lectures, and conferences with different stakeholders


hosted by the Community Development Training Center (CDTC), Royal University of Fine Arts, Norton University, and the Institute of Technology of Cambodia in Phnom Penh. During the second phase of the fieldtrip, the report team were distributed in three site groups, each working directly with an urban poor community. This provided the valuable chance to experience more fully the reality that people live from day to day. The post field trip phase (16 May - 01 June 2015) has been the instance to reflect upon our initial definitions and integrate the information and experience obtained in the field in order to propose a development citywide scale strategy for Cambodia .


The report starts contextualizing Cambodia through a historical review organized into three phases of transition. To understand Cambodia current state of transition, key urban development issues and dynamics are highlighted in relation to the legislation that is trying to address

them. The third chapter elaborates on our theoretical and analytical framework which forms the core of our understanding of Cambodia’s transformation in a state of transition. The principles that evolved from this framework have been reevaluated based on our field experience and articulated towards constructing and framing our strategy for transformation and its four areas of intervention, introduced in chapter five. The principles that evolved from our framework are as lenses of analysis to explain the sites in chapter four. The key findings from the sites inform our strategy and strategic interventions in chapter six. An in-depth reflection on the role of the development practitioner and the conclusion is presented in chapter six. In the appendix expands on the activities and background research we did.


The chapter outlines the research process used to navigate and understand Cambodia’s context. The first part of the chapter analyses the historical and political forces that defined the country along the lines of three different phases based on the nature of transition Cambodia has undergone. The next part expands on Cambodia’s current situation and helps in contextualising the burning issues and links them with the legal framework and the actors shaping the country’s development.




Phnom Penh, 2015, Josè Aguirre 24


2.1 Transition from colonization to independence Cambodia was under the French rule from 1863-1953. Within French colonial urbanism, the city of Phnom Penh was an a laboratory of experiments showcasing modernity. During urbanisation in the 1920s the French provided public services and social housing to the citizens. Cambodia gained independence in 1953, cutting short the implementation of the city’s first master plan that was addressing the increasing industrialisation and population growth of the city (Fallavier, 2002). After the transition from colonization to independence, the country became the Kingdom of Cambodia under the rule of King Sihanouk. In search for a new identity, the Independent Sihanouk administration introduced ambitious public programs for creating “New Khmer Architecture” which was characterised by an amalgamation of traditional Angkor architecture with European modernism. The period was defined as “the golden era” for Cambodia and by 1960s Phnom Penh was referred as the “prettiest 26

capital in Southeast Asia” (Nam, 2011). The development of the city focused on mega-urban projects like the National Olympics sports complex, Bassac River front development, university complexes and social housing projects. Architect Vann Molyvann, with buildings such as the Chaktomok theatre and the institute of Foreign studies, played an important role in establishing recognition for the new identity of the country. While during the 1950s and 1960s the state was trying to make Phnom Penh a symbol of a “confident” and “forward-looking” capital (, 2015), nobody could have imagined the darkness to come.

2.1 _ The illustration from our pre-field research tries to highlight Cambodia’s search for an Asian identity through Architecture after independence. 2.2 _ Phnom Penh’s Institute of Foreign Languages by Vann Molyvann. 2.3 _ The National Sports Complex in Phnom Penh, designed by Vann Molyvann.





2.2 Violent transition from urban to rural : “YEAR ZERO” From 1970-75 , the country was under Khmer Republic which was the Republican government of Cambodia later replaced by the state of Democratic Kampuchea in 1975 under the Khmer Rouge. “Year zero” was totalitarian dictatorship lasting four years, from 1975-79, by the Khmer Rouge under leadership of Pol Pot, which aspired a “Communist peasant farming society”. They conducted an aggressive campaign to evacuate city dwellers and force them to become agricultural workers, emptying the main cities of Phnom Penh, Pursat and Battambang in a few days. During this phase all private property was confiscated, property records destroyed, markets and economics disappeared while all laws and religion were abolished. People were brutally murdered and tortured while they worked in the countryside where the greatest causes of death were hunger, disease and lack of shelter. Under the vicious rule of Pol Pot over one-fourth of the country’s population died, especially intellectuals, artists, religious people and 28

the elite. Knowingly, “the international community allowed the genocide to unfold in Cambodia” (Pike, 2015). In January 1979, the Vietnamese took over Phnom Penh, ending the totalitarian dictatorship but replacing it with military occupation. Supported by the US government, Khmer Rouge groups persisted along the Thai border for another two decades and Pol Pot continued to represent the country in the UN until 1997 (Pilger, 1990). The four years of Khmer Rouge are a black page in the history of the country, scarring people’s lives with violence and suffering and the landscape of the countryside with killing fields and mass graves.

2.4 _ The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh displays pictures and confessions that Khmer Rouge soldiers took of every person they tortured and murdered. 2.5 _ The memorial stupa at the Cheung Ek Killing Fields Museum contains more than 5000 skulls that have been excavated from the surrounding mass graves. 2.6 _ During the Pol Pot regime the borders were closed, money abolished and all citizens forced out of the cities to work in the rice fields.





2.3 Transition from communist occupation to capitalist From 1979-89, the country was called the People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) under the occupation of the Vietnamese army. In 1985, Hun Sen became the prime minister and initiated an interesting policy of “family books” to recognize inhabitants without ownership titles and enable their legal access to public authorities. Conflict endured throughout the decade as Cambodia became a stage for global cold war politics with the Soviet Bloc supporting the Phnom Penh based PRK and border resistance groups, primarily Khmer Rouge, supported by China and the USA. As the soviet bloc deteriorates in 1989, international pressures mounted to end the conflict. Cambodia became one of several poor communist states that was democratized through external aid dependency rather than internal grassroots movements (Hughes, 2003). The UN transitional authority Cambodia (UNTAC) staged elections in 1992-93 and promoted prowestern ideology of democracy and pro-business policies in favour of free 30

market trade. But the institutionalisation of participatory processes was lacking and democracy in Cambodia was characterized by militarization, elitism and everyday violence for personal gain (Hughes, 2003). Successful independent elections were finally held in 1999, in which urban issues, after decades of neglect, became a part of the national agenda again. The CPP won and the same year the last fractions of Khmers Rouge disappeared. The 1990s for Cambodia thus signified a threefold transition to peace, “democracy” and a free market economy. 2.7 _ Hun Sen was world’s youngest head of government at 32 when he came to power in 1985. Three decades later he is the sixth-longest serving political leader in the world. 2.8 _ UN peacekeepers patrol the streets of Phnom Penh amid the morning rush hour traffic on August 27, 1993. 2.9 _ Vietnamese soldiers celebrated by the Cambodian people after they defeat the Pol Pot Regime. 2.10 (pag.32) _ This diagram illustrates the transformation process of Cambodia with political forces which influence transformation of the country. It shows that the transformation is inseparable with national and global dynamics which affect the legal framework produced in urban and housing development. Furthermore, the historical analysis of the country helps us to contextualize the current situation and critically reflect the transformation process.









2.4 Understanding Cambodia’s current transition Rapid Urban Development The increased stability of the country since the 1999 independent elections has caused Cambodia’s urban development to boom with foreign investment pouring in. Over the past 15 years Cambodia’s legal framework has undergone many changes to facilitate these rapid developments and simultaneously mitigate their impacts. The Land Law established in 2001 was the first legislation on land titling, land use and management since the abolishment of private property under the Khmer Rouge. It has been supplemented with legislation on public land concessions, slum settlements, protected areas and land titling. If these policies will effectively curb the global market forces that are rapidly transforming the cityscape with high human and environmental costs, remains to be seen. To understand better Cambodia’s current state of transition, the next paragraphs elaborate on key urban development issues and dynamics 34

in relation to the legislation that is trying to address them. Exclusive and Transformations



Recent development of Phnom Penh has been characterized by ambitious city beautification projects and the establishment of “satellite cities” on the periphery of the city. The latter are not independent cities, but rather luxurious suburbs and gated communities that target the Cambodian elite. These massive new developments are not merely a physical alteration of the built environment, but affect the imagination, power relations and the social dynamics of Cambodian society. The urban imaginaries and lifestyles propagated by the luxurious urban enclaves are modeled after cities in neighboring countries such as China, South Korea and Thailand, who coincidentally are also some of the major investors in Cambodia’s development. The Cambodian government has made

the country very attractive for foreign capital, to the point that local investors struggle to compete. Although these new suburbs usually exploit peripheral virgin land, rising land values in recent years has sparked a series of landfills of urban lakes to create new land in prime locations. Especially Boeng Kak lake was a highly contested landfill that sparked popular outrage and protests by the communities that were being forcibly evicted. Massive landfills upset the ecological system of the city and extensive intensified flooding is the most obvious consequence. Since urban poor are generally located on lower parts of the city, they suffer most from such floods. The socio-environmental injustice of landfill practices need to be tackled in future visions of any urban transformation in Cambodian cities.

2.12 _ Actor diagram showing the mulititude and complexity of actors involved in urban transformation processes in Cambodia.



Eviction, Relocation, Circular 3 and Directive 001 Currently, more than 150,000 Cambodians are under the risk of being forcibly evicted (Ngoun, 2013). If urban poor are relocated after eviction, they continue to face many hardships. Relocation sites have been established increasingly far away from the city centre and often lack connectivity, infrastructure, basic services like water, electricity, health care and education. The distance and lack of services makes it very difficult for people to sustain or rebuild their livelihoods. As a result, many urban poor leave their relocation site and move back to central urban areas where their social networks and livelihood opportunities are based, thus perpetuating the vicious circle of eviction and relocation. Especially the years 2008-2012 were marked by massive forced evictions and increasingly distant relocation sites. In 2012, just before the elections in 2013, the government issued Directive 36

001 to suspend the granting of land for development by private companies (ELCs) to curb evictions. The graph 2.14 illustrates the clear connection between forced evictions and election years. Despite Cambodia’s commitment to uphold human rights, including the right to adequate housing, hundreds of communities across the country suffer from tenure insecurity and evictions are characterized by violence, lack of communication, inadequate compensation and other human rights abuses. Additionally, renters’ rights to secure tenure are not incorporated into cambodia’s legal framework (Mgbako et al. 2010). In order to deal with the abundance of informal settlements on state public land, the government issued Circular 3 in 2010. It requires the coordination of a cadastre of temporary settlements, specifies the options of relocation, upgrading or land sharing for “temporary” settlements and is supposed to ensure provision of the

basic public infrastructure and services for relocation sites. Unfortunately the document states that it does not apply to contested land situations, excluding communities most in need of protection. Even people who have possessory titles or fulfil criteria for getting definitive ownership titles after 5 years, as defined by the Land Law, continue to be ignored, misinformed and forcibly evicted. Nonetheless, Circular 3 is a valuable document because it is concerned the fate of informal communities and outlines government responsibilities to deal with their situation. The recent approval of the National Housing Policy includes a clause about “assuring that relocation as a last option, used in accordance with the principles of voluntariness, good governance, transparency, accountability, and participation from the affected settlers” (National housing policy, 204: STRATEGY(c)), which could potentially offer future evictees some legal handles for contestation.


2.13 _ Forced eviction of Borei Keila residents who did not receive a home in the land sharing development, Phnom Penh. 2.14 _ Rising land values and foreign direct investment cause massive forced evictions to increasingly distant relocation sites.



Land grabbing in Cambodia has been rising since 2003, when the Sub-decree on Social Land Concessions was issued, followed by the Sub-decree Economic Land Concessions in 2005. ELCs facilitate the large scale transfer of public state land into private state land, which can be legally leased to private companies. The beneficiaries are allowed to clear the land for industrial or agricultural exploitation of land, indirectly legalizing unsustainable logging practices. Currently 60% of the arable land in Cambodia is in the hands of private companies and more than 770,000 people (6% of the population) have been adversely affected by land grabbing from 2000 to 2013 (ADHOC, 2014: 26). In 2012 Directive 001 was issued by Hun Sen to put a moratorium on the granting of ELCs, but the fine print excluded ELCs already under consideration. 38

Number of Displaced Families

Land Grabbing through ELCs and SLCs


UPRS Land Law

Paris ICESCR Peace Accords

Economic Land Concessions

Protected Areas Law

Circular 3 New landscheme

Housing Policy


? 1220

? increasing trend in displacement



0 1991





2000 2001 2002 2003


2005 2006




2012 2013 2014



Lack of transparency and documentation on land use, registration or ownership makes it impossible to monitor the government’s land concessioning process and violations of regulations. SLCs are supposed to be given to landless peasants and veterans, however SLCs have been reportedly used to grant protected or indigenous lands to corrupt NGOs or private investors. Donations of SLCs to urban poor peaked in first half of 2013 in the run up to the elections, demonstrating the sincerity of the government towards urban poor policies. “Where will Cambodia find enough land for the next generation, given that almost half the arable land is in the hands of private concessionaires, leased for up to 99 years?” (ADHOC, 2013: 2)

2.15 _ The graph reveals the connection between elections, land legislation and number of displaced families due to eviction.

Land Titling Practices under the Land Law and Directive 001 Land titling was created under the Cambodian Constitution and the Land Law of 2001, providing a mechanism through which land possession can become legal ownership by a person who can demonstrate at least five years of peaceful/unambiguous possession. This person can claim the property and apply for the title. However, lack of transparency and corruption in the bureaucratic processes denies rightful landowners to apply for and receive land titles. An accelerated land titling program by youth volunteers was launched by the Prime Minister in late 2012, again coinciding with run up to the elections. However, the program failed to provide any tenure security to the people under threat of eviction. In Addition, several NGOs in Cambodia are polemically lobbying for land titles. Granting individual titles can result in community members to selling their

titles and moving away and thus, it can be questioned if individual land titles should be the primary focus of upgrading efforts. Thailand’ Baan Mankong program demonstrates how collective land titles increase community cohesion and longterm secure tenure. In the cambodian context, however, collective land titles are difficult to acquire and unpopular due to the communist history of the country. Another approach starts with upgrading people’s physical conditions and community organization capacity, which will eventually increase people’s political agency and negotiation power. The last approach is closest to how our partners CDF and CAN-CAM work.


Looking forward: Implementation of the National Housing Policy With knowledge of the current developments and difficulties surrounding land and housing in Cambodia, it will be important what the future will bring to the Cambodian people. In May last year (2014) the National Housing Policy was approved and the 14 page document outlines housing alternatives and funding options, as well as defines the institutional structure for its implementation. A general housing department at national level has been created, while provincial housing offices and units still need to be established. Heavily influenced by international actors and examples, the national housing policy specifically addresses the needs of poor and vulnerable groups. The production of supporting policy documents for implementation and monitoring processes will be crucial to ensure that the urban poor will truly benefit. The MOU for collaboration on 40

the implementation of the Housing Policy and Circular 3, signed by the Housing General Department of MLMUPC, Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR), and the Community Development Fund (CDF) on the 24th of December, 2014, is an important step in the right direction. It also testifies to valuable political momentum towards dealing with the problematic situation of land and housing that Cambodia faces in its state of transition. Seizing such moments of attention and political will are important to turn them into positive transformative processes.

2.16 _ Camko city as example of gated community 2.17 _ Cambodia’s legal framework for land and housing has been rapidly developing since 2000.




The chapter elaborates our theoretical and analytical framework which forms the core of our understanding of Cambodia’s transformation in a state of transition. It is the synthesis of our pre-field theoretical understanding of transformation merged with the ground experience and post field trip analysis. Principles evolved from this framework are re-evaluated based on our on-field experience and articulated towards constructing and framing strategies for transformation in the form of interventions.




White Building, 2015, Sharon Ambrosio 44


3.1 Theoretical framework Our theoretical framework forms the core of our understanding of Cambodia’s transformation in a state of transition. It evolved out of our pre-field theoretical definition of transformation, that was informed by the intellectual groundwork of MSc BUDD. We defined transition as the time or space between one state and another. Drawing on Agamben, transition as an ‘in-between’ state, could be considered a ‘state of exception’ in which normality is suspended. According to Agamben, the legal production of this ‘state of exception’ and the qualification of subjects as independent from the normal rule of law renders meaningful political action impossible. In addition to Agamben’s understanding, we consider the state of transition to be filled with multiple uncertainties because the future state and the timeframe of the transition are unknown. 3.1


Meanwhile, transformation refers to a fundamental change of content or mindset, rather than a timeframe of change. Transformational change is challenging because it entails a structural change of culture and behavior which requires a fundamental shift of people’s mindset. Equality - or real transformation for marginalized communities - is not about the “inclusion of the excluded” in the existing structure defined by those in power, as described by Rancière. Real transformation for us is related to Apparudai’s deep democracy, which he posits as a horizontal grassroots movement for a “democracy without borders” (Apparudai, 2002).


3.1 _ People make everyday adaptations and transformations of their homes and streetscapes in response to change imposed upon them from a larger scale, as seen in the Borei Keila landsharing project. 3.2 _ Koh Pich Island, marketed as “Diamond Island”, exemplifies how foreign investment is rapidly transforming not only the city, but also the vision of what the city should be.


3.2 Analytical framework Complementing our theoretical framework with reflections from our fieldwork experience, we now understand transformation as happening simultaneously on two levels, that of the country and of the people. Transformation and transition in Cambodia cannot be considered separately but are intertwined with each other and operating at multiple scales and timeframes. This multi-scalarity and intertwined nature of transformation forms the core of our analytical framework. Transition at the country scale induces transformation at the same scale. In turn, this large scale process of transformation continuously causes people and their everyday realities to be suspended in transition. To adapt to these smaller transitions, people transform their lives and inevitable transformations will emerge. There is a mutual relationship between the two different scales of transformation in the state of transition in Cambodia. 48

An accumulation of smaller transformations happening on the ground can influence the trajectory of transformation at the national scale. The ability of the small scale processes to influence the national scale transformation is what we perceive as Positive Transformation.

3.3 _ Conceptual diagram showing how transformation takes place at the scale of the city and of people, with different time frames and actors involved.



Positive transformation For us, positive transformation in Cambodia today is a people-driven transformative process, which starts from the small intentional transformations of people’s lives. Through making visible how people are transforming their own lives, people can be empowered to impact the long-term transformation process of the city or country as a whole. More practically, transformation takes place when grassroots movements or people’s initiatives start influencing higher political decisions shaping their city and country. Theoretically, it connects to the notion of deep democracy where peopleled transformative processes enables agency within the marginalised groups to be able to mediate globalizing forces that redefine boundaries and discourses nationally and globally. Thus, transformation in Cambodia’s state of transition can be found in the moments where the gap between the 50

two scales of transformation is reduced and their trajectories are aligned. It is precisely within this gap and towards these moments of alignment that the development practitioner works by connecting different actors, processes and resources. From our refined theoretical and analytical framework, we defined four principles we consider crucial for processes of transformation in a time of transition in Cambodia. From our refined theoretical and analytical framework, we defined four principles we consider crucial for processes of transformation in a time of transition in Cambodia. Four principles are defined based on our on-field experience. Together, principles seek to construct and frame a theoretical framework that will be used to define the strategies for transformation in form of interventions.

3.4 _ Points of alignment between the two scales and between different actors, provide opportunities to reduce the gap and work towards a more unified vision and transformation of the city.





Agency can be seen as the capacity to act. An increase in agency can drive and enable individuals to challenge power relations and hierarchies by expanding abilities and capabilities as empowered group. According to Melucci (1989, quoted by Hughes 2003), when people produce their collective action, they define both themselves and their environment. Collective action is a grassroots process that involves building a collective identity. This process is made feasible by integrating different perspectives of individuals for a common goal by acting collectively which is a product of constant negotiation, interaction and conflict.

Transparency is a prerequisite for a democratic society because it allows power relations to be challenged. It makes the exchange of knowledge, flows of information and transactions of resources visible and accessible. This diffusion of knowledge induces a change in the power relations, which can allow transformation to take place (Foucault, 1975). The process of transformation becomes more inclusive because the potential for participation increases. Each person is more aware of the process that is taking place. Openness about actions and interests within the development process, increases the accountability of responsible parties.




By making the lived realities on the ground visible, it becomes possible for marginalized groups to become recognized, increasing their sphere of influence to achieve an envisioned transformation. Increasing visibility is an important tool in the process of transformation, by changing the perception of both those who are becoming visible and those who are witnesses.

Local knowledge is the knowledge based on experience and everyday life embedded in local practices, culture and environment accumulated over time. The most central contributor in this production of knowledge are the people themselves, as they are the experts in their own lives. The acknowledgement of people’s local techniques and non-formal practices has the possibility of expanding capabilities and stimulating self determination. This further creates a sense of agency within people and widens the scope of coproduction of knowledge.


This chapter introduces the three case sites along with the other sites visited during the fifteen days of on-field work contextualising the challenges faced by Cambodia in relation to transformation. It starts with highlighting the importance of three case sites that exemplify the larger issues affecting Cambodia’s transformation. The case sites conducted in two different cities of Phnom Penh and Steung Sen, are then presented in details emphasising the main issues faced by them through the four principles as lenses of analysis. This is followed by the section analysing and synthesising key findings based on the overall site experience which can be seen as entry points towards developing strategies for cambodia’s transformation. The on-field experience forms the core of this chapter as without it, our understanding of transformation would lack the analytical and practical depth. This experience exposed us to be involved in a series of activities 54

or actions(appendix) in collaboration with different actors(professionals, students and academicians) to test our capacities as a development practitioner and understand better the realities and challenges of transformation.



Kampong Thom, 2015, Vishakha Jha 56


4.1 Understanding Cambodia through Communities In our initial days we did several visits to different informal, relocated or upgraded communities. We studied and witnessed with all our senses a heavily contested land sharing project (Borei Keila), provisionoriented housing development (PCLinternational NGO), the embeddedness of urban poor communities in the natural environment (Prey Takoong), infrastructure driven incremental upgrading (Samaki-Chung Ruk), mobilemicro interventions for upgrading (mobile library), income generation schemes for heavily flooded areas and several other projects. These multiple site visits broadened our understanding of urban poor living conditions and upgrading options in Cambodia. The next stage of working intensively on a single site (per group) deepened and personalized this understanding. More informations about the activities we have done on the field in the commuities can be check in the Appendix. We would like to emphasize that the three sites where we worked for several 58

days, can be considered as case-studies of bigger processes and issues that are shaping Cambodia’s development.

4.1 _ The map shows the spatial typologies of the three sites where the fieldwork took place.



Anlong Kngan



Boeung Veng Reik Chamroeun


Beoung meanchy thmey 4.4

ANLONG KNGAN is one among many, increasingly distant, relocation sites that have been established by Phnom Penh over the past two decades. For planning : Ministry of Agriculture or preventing relocations in the future it is important to understand better the impact of relocation on people’s lives and well-being, as well as people’s to evictee after relocation. capacity for Donated resilience ( victims of fire ) It is in everyone’s interest to address the vicious circle of relocating urban poor who then sell their land titles and re-squat LAND + LAND TITLE public land. Also interesting is the large scale of Anlong Kngan which allows for a different reflection on the meaning of community, the spatialization of social relationships and the mechanisms of savings groups.

~ 3,000 house hold were burnt in a fire incident

3,000 households were burnt in a fire incident squatters without land title

land + land title

new informal settlement

original relocated people new residents

huge amount of people who already got the land title sell their land to the outsider.

informal settlement sale of land title


original residence squats inside the land of the health center.

4.5 _ Illustration showing the development of the community now living in Anlong Kngan, which exemplifies the challenges of distant relocation sites.


Original Relocated People

BOEUNG VENG REIK CHAMROEUN is complementary to the previous sites because of its location in the provincial city of Stueng Saen. It challenges us to think about what city upgrading at a national scale means. Should upgrading processes and practices in provincial cities be the same as in the capital? More specifically Boeung Veng Reik Chamroeun is an example of communities living over public canals and the issues of flooding, pollution, tenure insecurity and threat of eviction they face. Since it impossible to receive a land title on public water, canal communities are particularly difficult for government deal with. Without the possibility of applying circular 3, how will perhaps the new housing policy deal with people living on public canals?

4.6 _ Boeung Veng Reik Chamroeun exemplifies the challenges and aspirations of many canal communities.


polluted canal

cleaning and upgrading the canal

reblocking and upgrading alongside the canal


lake: income generation / livelihood

landfill by the new developer

BOEUNG CHOEUK MEANCHEY THMEY 2 exemplifies the multitude of urban poor communities that suffer the externalities from landfills for large real estate developments. The common practice in Phnom Penh of landfilling of urban lakes to create valuable land is environmentally unsustainable and causes great social-environmental injustice. The site is also squeezed between two municipal infrastructure projects aiming to upgrade a national highway and build a drainage system

that deals with flooding from the landfill. This illustrates how large infrastructure projects can be imagined as both the cause and the solution to environmental issues such as flooding. A reflection that can perhaps inspire an exploration into the use of infrastructure projects to catalyze upgrading processes at different scales. By understanding and making visible how people and the environment are interconnected and interdependent within the city - both in problematics and in potential transformations - it becomes possible to criticize unjust and unsustainable development practices and envision possible alternatives. Realizing the richness of Cambodian people’s knowledge about living with the natural environment in an urban context is another important reason to study communities near lakes and landfills.

landfill: floods affecting the community 4.7

4.7 _ BCMT2 can be considered a typical case of landfills causing flooding and externalities for urban poor communities.


4.2 Anlong Kngan : Recovering from relocation Residents in Anlong Kngan have been relocated from the Bassac river settlement that burned down in 2001. People with land titles were given individual land plots in the new resettlement. Renters from Bassac and owners who resold their new plots have squatted on public land within the relocation site, illustrating that granting individual land titles after eviction is not a straightforward solution. The residents suffer from unemployment and lack of education while the settlement is criticized for its disorganized density, poor building conditions and lack of hygiene. Fourteen years after being relocated 15 km outside the city, the people are recovering their lives as the city develops around them. As part of the ‘City Expansion Development’ the surrounding area is rapidly developing and offering improved infrastructure, job opportunities, education and shops. Despite these opportunities, the people in the informal settlement are afraid of being evicted again which prevents them from investing in on-site upgrading. 64

People’s Knowledge


Because the residents were relocated, they had to re-develop part of their localized knowledge relating to environment and livelihoods. Many residents now work in construction and recycling, which are valuable skills for self-upgrading as well.

In terms of political visibility, there are already some connections between community representatives and the Khan officials. Physically, the community’s visibility is reduced because of the inconspicuous entrance to the settlement.

Collective Action


Social cohesion seems low within the settlement and issues of trust prevent large scale collective action. Out of eleven savings groups in the settlement, one has failed because many residents were unable to payback their loans. Other savings groups are often focussed on short-term personal needs, rather than on upgrading public space or building a better community.

There is a great lack of clear communication regarding land title, occupation rights, and evictions. Many residents who have been living in the settlement for more than five years, and should have occupation rights, are uncertain about their land tenure and fear eviction. Also, the Khan does not give out basic information regarding land uses and pricing, nor does it have a master plan. Within some savings groups there is low transparency and a lack of trust.

People’s knowledge


Visibility 4.9




4.3 Boeung Veng Reik Chamroeun: Upgrading in the Province Boeung Veng Reik Chamroeun is a canal settlement in Stueng Saen City in the province of Kampong Thom. The settlement is characterized by waste and sewage accumulation and the people suffer from unhealthy living conditions. With its ambitions to apply for the “Clean city competition�, the municipality is determined to relocate the community on state land 70 kilometres away. Although the community would prefer on-site upgrading, this is impossible because canals are state public property that cannot be converted to private land titles. As opposed to Phnom Penh, however, availability and affordability of land within the city is much higher. This makes it possible to propose that the government acquires nearby private land for relocating the community, allowing people to maintain their jobs and social networks.


People’s Knowledge To adapt to the yearly flooding of the community, people have made their homes flexible by making it possible to adapt the height of furniture, floor and beds to the level of the water. Additionally, the lack of water and sanitation infrastructure have triggered resilient strategies such as a system for the collection, filtration and storage of rainwater from roofs. Collective Action After two unsuccessful attempts to start saving, CDF has supported the formation of new savings group includes the whole community. With the aim of receiving a CDF loan, community representatives are currently discussing options to increase their community savings, such as a community guest house or shop. After the DPU/CDF workshop, the community has decided to organize a collective canal cleaning activity to demonstrate to the

municipality their interest in maintaining a clean environment. Visibility After the workshop, the community has become visible to local authorities and gained recognition for their organization, engagement and proactive attitude. This has triggered a collaborative agreement between the community and the local authorities to identify and negotiate nearby land for a relocation. Transparency Despite the collaborative attitude of the Mayor to share official land information necessary to find a relocation site, the complicated bureaucracy and expensive charged to obtain the information, reveal how knowledge can become a tool for exclusion. A double discourse of transparency and inaccessibility is a method of exercising power and controlling powerless citizens.

Collective actions 4.11

People’s knowledge 4.12




4.4 Boeung Choeuk Meanchey Thmey 2: Flooded by a Landfill BCMT2 community have suffered from the landfill of a nearby lake (Boeng Pralit) in 2010 for the development of the luxury suburb Borey Peng Houth. Seasonal flooding has become permanent flooding and most of the people lost their livelihoods that were connected to the lake. Health problems and environmental pollution have increased due to stagnant water and sewage dumping by the construction site into the canal bordering the community. Additionally, the community suffers from poor quality housing, roads, drainage and a lack of public space. BCMT2 is situated between two big district-wide infrastructure projects: the upgrading of national highway #1 and the construction of an underground drainage system replacing Prek Barang canal, which is supposed to deal with the increased flooding due to the landfill.


People’s Knowledge

incrementally upgraded by the owners.

Water-based traditional knowledge concerning environment, construction and livelihoods, i.e. growing rice and harvesting waterlilies, is widespread in the community yet underused since the landfill. Collective aspirations for more green spaces to grow food emerged during our workshops and indicate more untapped knowledge about urban agriculture.


Collective Action There is social cohesion within the community and with neighbors, yet a lack of collective spaces impedes gatherings and collective action. Savings groups restarted last year after interruption by the landfill which caused unemployment and a loss of faith. Remarkably one group of residents managed to save money and upgrade a walkway they share. Interestingly all the houses along the road have been

Political visibility of BCMT2 itself is minimal, yet their connection to CSNC representatives and CDF increases their potential for political recognition. In terms of physical visibility, the entrance to the community off of national highway #1 is a narrow and inconspicuous. Transparency Our workshop was the first time that community members were directly received by the Khan, despite multiple attempts by community representatives to make an appointment. While the local officials said they would provide us with maps for our workshop, they never followed up. The opacity of the Khan is not in their words, but in their actions. At community level there is a lack of knowledge exchange to inform renters about the saving group scheme.

Collective actions


People’s knowledge





4.5 Key findings EXTERNALITIES Urban poor communities are subject to externalities and decisions beyond their control Government and municipalities are failing to envision the long-term impacts of development projects in terms of human and environmental costs for people as well as financial costs for governments. Especially urban poor communities are affected by externalities of urban development projects that they have no influence over or benefit from. Example _ Boeung Choeuk Meanchey Thmey 2 The community have suffered from the landfill of Boeng Pralit lake for the development of Borey Peng Houth. Community members lost their traditional water-related livelihoods and now they suffer from increased flooding, pollution, unemployment and health problems.


4.17 _ The housing for the construction workers of the new development dumps sewage directly into canal adjacent to BCMT2. 4.18 _ Chor, a representative of CSNC, explained how the flooding of BCMT2 was caused by Borey Peng Houth development.




VISIONS & EFFORTS Visions are aligned, but efforts are disconnected Both people in communities and (local) government have visions of better cities and a better Cambodia. However their tactics and strategies to achieve their vision are often different and not coordinated. An important transformations would be a shift in mindsets from both sides: communities realizing that their everyday tactics could be transformed by a long term vision for self-upgradation and government trusting and recognizing communities in their knowledge and efforts towards selfupgradation. Example _ Boeung Veng Reik Chamroeun The municipality is working towards a vision of Stueng Saen as ‘the clean city’, while Boeung Veng Reik Chamroeun community members want better living conditions without pollution. The city 72

is planning and detailing strategies to achieve their goal, yet on the ground the community has already developed coping mechanisms based on local knowledge and techniques to deal with pollution and poor living conditions on an everyday basis. What is lacking is communication and coordination of these efforts at different levels.

4.19 - 4.20 _ The local official and the resident transporting recycled materials are working towards a cleaner city in different ways.




SOCIAL COHESION The importance of social cohesion Our field experience affirms the OECD’s understanding of social cohesion as being “crucial for the peaceful management of collective action problems that naturally arise in transforming societies” (OECD, 2011: 28). The notion of social cohesion includes the concepts of social inclusion, social capital and social mobility (OECD, 2011). Strengthening social cohesion helps to create a sense of belonging, promotes trust, and makes it possible to develop a common vision. Through a common vision and increased trust, community members are able to share their resources, such as money and space. At the same time social cohesion enhances people’s social connections and increases potential civic engagement. Example _ Anlong Kngan Settlement The communities were not organized according their location or social connections, but seemed to be based 74

on the financial relationships of savings groups. Due to a lack of trust, sense of belonging and a common vision, the people are facing difficulty making plans for self-upgradation.

4.21 _ In BCMT2 the strong social cohesion enhanced the design activities and potential for collective action. 4.22 _ In Anlong Kngan the lack of social cohesion was an obstacle for initiating meaningful processes and activities.




INDIVIDUAL & COLLECTIVE There is a constant tension between the individual and the collective In the decision-making processes for upgrading there is a constant tension between collective and individual interests. In our fieldwork we noticed people envision their future starting from their bodies and homes and then move to dreaming about public space and community improvement. However, sometimes improving shared spaces first, might lead to incremental upgrading of all individuals’ situations. The challenge is to create spaces of dialogue where conflicts of interests become part of a constructive process for community development. Questions of priority and responsibility need to be negotiated collectively to continuously balance the incremental upgrading of both the community as a whole and the lives of individuals.


Example _ Boeung Choeuk Meanchey Thmey 2 During our ‘dream community’ exercise we discovered aspirations for green collective spaces, playgrounds and improved walkways. However during reblocking discussions, people were reluctant to reduce the size of their homes for collective spaces and the equal distribution of land plots. Through playful games we tried to illustrate the importance of collective well-being for a successful upgrading process.

4.23 _ BCMT2 community representatives presented their community through images that demonstrate their collective action. 4.24 _ The final result of the dream community activity, was a model that shows the qualities and aspirations of the community spaces.




TRANSPARENCY There is a lack of transparency and access to information On all of the sites, acquiring information from government officials proved a great challenge. As described in our principle definition, we consider transparency a prerequisite for democracy. Through making transactions invisible and information inaccessible, power and control is exercised by actors who are unaccountable. Unnecessary bureaucracy and lack of transparency results in distrust and insecurity among citizens, impeding citizenship and political agency. Example _ Boeung Choeuk Meanchey Thmey 2 & Boeung Veng Reik Chamroeun Though district officials seemed open for collaboration to deal with landfill and flooding issues. The promised documentation about the on-going construction of a new drainage system, 78

was never handed over. Similarly, the group in Kampong Thom struggled to acquire information on the status of land plots from local government. The price to acquire the information about a single plot was 10 dollars and simply unaffordable for members of the community.

4.25 _ The mayor of Stueng Saen engaged and encouraged the community members of Boeung Veng Reik Chamroeun, however it proved difficult to acquire promised information. 4.26 _ While the community members of BCMT2 can see the new development encroaching upon their settlement, yet they are not informed or involved in the decision-making process.




TRUST There is a lack of trust among actors, but no lack of prejudices

in Anlong Kngan have not started selfupgrading because they are afraid of being evicted again by the government.

It is difficult to build trust between government and communities because there is a history of distrust and disappointment from both sides. People’s perception of social justice affects their political trust, which influences their cooperation with government. For example, the vicious circles of eviction and relocation, of landfills and flooding, confirms people’s distrust of the government. On the other side, the government’s mistrust of people hinders the making of policies favorable to the urban poor. To overcome these dynamics, efforts should be made by both sides. Example _ Anlong Kngan Settlement The community’s land title request was rejected by the Khan, because the government worried that once the residents get land titles they will resell their land. On the other hand, the people 80

4.27 _ Residents of Anlong Kngan are reluctant to upgrade their houses because they do not trust the government to give them secure tenure. 4.28 _ Violent forced evictions break down further any trust between government and people.




The strategies for transformation in Cambodia need to be built upon the existing realities, people and opportunities of a country in transition. The strategy reflects the operationalisation of the theoretical base with the understanding of the practicalities based on field experience. The chapter envisions the overarching strategy grounded on theoretical framework of positive transformation with the four principles deeply embedded in them. Using the key findings of the three sites as strategic entry points the strategy unfolds into different areas of intervention at the two scales of transformation. The later part of the chapter expands on the strategic interventions and offers guidelines and tools for the implementation of the strategy within each area of intervention using the spatial settlement typology identified during fieldwork.




Kampong Thom, 2015, Vishakha Jha 84


5.1 Envisioning a city-wide upgrading strategy for transformation Informed by our interpretation of positive transformation, our strategy aims to strengthen and align peopledriven transformation initiatives and processes in order to impact the trajectory of transformation happening at the city and country level. Working with the intertwined relationship of transformation at people and city scale, our strategy targets moments of alignment between different actors and arcs of transformation. By challenging existing power hierarchies and rethinking current urban development practices, our strategy puts forward a vision of city-wide upgrading that peopledriven and produces more socially and environmentally sustainable cities. Strategies for transformation need to be built upon the existing realities, people and opportunities of a Cambodia in transition. Starting from the ground up, our strategies are based upon local technologies and people’s knowledge and encourages these to be recognized 86

at all levels of the city and city-making processes. Through making visible existing efforts, capacities and potentials of Cambodia’s urban poor and their partners, we want to demonstrate that people can be active subjects and not mere objects of development policies and projects. Our strategy focuses on constructing collective agency and horizontal networks among the urban poor to increase their leverage in decisionmaking processes that shape their cities and affect their lives. By creating opportunities for people to understand their own issues and potentialities better, our strategy cultivates collective processes that can potentially impact and alter current discourses on transformation in Cambodia. By proposing interventions and processes that are mindful of the various actors transforming the city, we acknowledge that the complexity of urban transformation is grounded in and emerging from conflictual processes

of negotiation and collaboration. We are convinced that upgrading and transformation are more effective if the legal frameworks governing Cambodian cities recognize and align with the knowledge and efforts of the people. We want to emphasize the importance of transparency, knowledge exchange and mutual learning for meaningful collaboration in city transformation processes between people, government, private sector, NGOs, academia and other actors.

5.1 _ Conceptual diagram showing the placement of the strategy within the different time frames of transformation.



5.2 Our strategy at country and city-scale Cambodia’s legal framework for land and housing is framed by the urban reality of Phnom Penh. Considering Cambodia only has four major cities and the next second most populous is only a sixth of the capital, the importance of medium and small urban centres in Cambodian city-upgrading policies and strategies cannot be ignored. Our strategy aims to encourage the development of a more comprehensive legal framework that can be applied in all cities of the country. As illustrated in the diagram in the right page, by focusing attention on provincial cities as well as the capital, national and international development efforts can support a process of country-wide upgrading. The networking of peopledriven transformative processes across the country will increase knowledge production about the specific challenges and opportunities in medium and smallsized cities, potentially informing policy formation and enhancing the overall process of Cambodia’s transformation.


Cambodia’s legal framework for land and housing is framed by the urban reality of Phnom Penh. Considering Cambodia only has four major cities and the next second most populous is only a sixth of the capital, the importance of medium and small urban centres in Cambodian city-upgrading policies and strategies cannot be ignored. Our strategy aims to encourage the development of a more comprehensive legal framework that can be applied in all cities of the country. As illustrated in the diagram 5.2, by focussing attention on provincial cities as well as the capital, national and international development efforts can support a process of country-wide upgrading. The networking of peopledriven transformative processes across the country will increase knowledge production about the specific challenges and opportunities in medium and smallsized cities, potentially informing policy formation and enhancing the overall process of Cambodia’s transformation.

5.2 _ Illustration showing the scaling up of the strategic interventions to country-wide transformation. The diagram towards the right highlights the interlink between the different areas of interventions proposed.



5.3 Areas of intervention The strategy unfolds in four different areas of interventions which incrementally move towards the overarching vision of linking the two scales of transformations by supporting an alternative and more holistic transformation process. The interventions within the areas of social cohesion, savings groups, decisionmaking processes and collective spaces & infrastructure, are interrelated and incrementally contribute to peopledriven city-wide upgrading. In diagram to the right page, the strategy and its interventions are projected over time to give an impression of its evolution, however we acknowledge that community development is not a linear process. The different areas of intervention influence each other and are subject to external events and decisions that can disrupt the progression of the each of the areas. Cambodia being a developing country is constantly marked by uncertainty. In addition, the bigger transformative processes are affected by 90

the presence of legal framework, limited resources and contrasting methods of moving towards the visions by various urban actors pose challenges to the process of transformation. Externalities can take many forms, perhaps being environmental (i.e. floods, pollution), political (new policies, corruption), physical (infrastructure and development projects) or economical (lack of loans, loss of livelihoods). To enhance the resilience of the community in the face of externalities and other challenges, we argue that it is crucial to build a strategy around social cohesion that is supported by economical, political and physical upgrading interventions. Considering social cohesion a prerequisite for any people-centred process of transformation, our strategy starts with building and strengthening social cohesion among people and communities. Trust, social capital and collective action enabled by social cohesion, lead to our second set of interventions within the area of saving

schemes, which explore alternative savings structures while continuing to strengthen social cohesion. Through financial capacity, social networks and knowledge exchange that are built through the savings groups, people can start physical upgradation of collective spaces and infrastructure to catalyse individual upgradation. Through mapping and gradual upgradation of community assets and environment, people can gradually increase their scope of engagement and negotiation power in decision making processes that affect their city and their lives. The following section expands on the strategic interventions and offers guidelines and tools for the implementation of the strategy within each area. We have illustrated the four areas of intervention through spatial settlement typologies we encountered during the fieldwork. Follow the numbers to discover how the interventions develop the strategy over time.

Evolution of of the the strategy strategy and and areas areas of of interventions interventions Evolution

Eviction causes dispersal Eviction causes dispersal of community of community

Flooding due Flooding due to land fill to land fill

New National Highway New National Highway construction by government construction by government



National election adopts National election adopts unfavorable policy unfavorable policy

Possible externalities effecting the upgrading strategy Possible externalities effecting the upgrading strategy


1 1

2 2

Start building Start building social cohesion social cohesion

1 1

2 2

Establishing or Establishing or restructuring restructuring savings groups savings groups

1 1

3 3

3 3

4 4

1 1

2 2

3 3

2 2

5 5

3 3

Community action to Community action to improve collective spaces improve collective spaces Forming networks Forming networks for upgradation for upgradation

Community gets involved in Community gets involved in municipal infrastructure planning municipal infrastructure planning

4 4

4 4

4 4

5 5

5 5

People-driven People-driven transformation transformation shaping the city shaping the city

CAMBODODIA IN A STATE OF TRANSITION CAMBODIA IN A STATE OF TRANSITION CAMBODODIA Community-initiated media Community-initiated media platforms start influencing platforms start influencing discourse on city development discourse on city development

Understanding of capacities Understanding of capacities by co-production of knowledge by co-production of knowledge AREAS OF INTERVENTION AREAS OF INTERVENTION Social cohesion Social cohesion Saving groups scheme Saving groups scheme Collective spaces & Infrastructure Collective spaces & Infrastructure Decision-making processes Decision-making processes Possible ruptures in the strategy Possible ruptures in the strategy due to externalities and challenges due to externalities and challenges

5.3 _ The diagram explains the evolution of the strategy along with the incremental and interlinked nature of the areas of intervention. It also shows their projection over time and their non-linearity emerging due to external events and decisions that cause disruptions



SOCIAL COHESION What Triggering instances that can bring together different voices to meet shared common interests marking the start of a transformative process. Such moments evoke a sense of citizenship and belongingness as it creates social cohesion by looking beyond just individual interests of people towards more strengthened community or neighbourhood.



Why Most settlements of Cambodia, both rural and urban, have varying sense of belongingness with each other or the the community itself. People are unaware about who their neighbours are and what knowledge they have. Often people give priority only to their individual needs over collective interests.This makes it difficult for any collective action to take place due to lack of sense of belongingness amongst people.




How 1. Activities/tools: Community mapping, community gardening, Actors : Community members, CDF, NGOs,Universities 2. Activities/tools : Dream community, food exchange and games Actors : Community members, CDF, local NGOs, universities, DPU(external organisations) 3. Activities/tools : Clean the Canal, Upgrading the roads and infrastructure Actors : Community members, CDF, Local authorities, CSNC, NGOs 4. Activities/tools : . Networking with communities have gone through upgrading processes and can demonstrate the disadvantages of individual land titles. . Aligning efforts with NGO’s who are working around collective land title issues . Using examples of Baan Maan Kong as demonstrations for influencing the 94

process of upgrading Actors : community members, Local authorities,CDF, Local NGOs




SAVING GROUP SCHEME What To restructure the saving groups scheme by creating more flexible and open saving options. This in the long term aims to change the perception about upgrading through and beyond saving groups.



Why In Cambodia, many communities have already organised saving groups which are established with an aim to upgrade communities. The criteria for upgradation is often limited to saving groups as the community is defined by its presence in the savings group. The funds are not always put to effective and reasonable use due to the concept of upgradation being very generic. The saving groups are based on the house numbers rather than residents which makes it difficult for people to have faith in the saving groups and limits their options of saving schemes.



How 1. Activities/tools : Using the family book as a reference, increasing the options available to the people for saving. Even if one does not have an address, they can be a part of the saving groups. Actors : CDF,community members, CSNC 2. Activities/tools: Saving themes related to work and commuting can be established for the communities with large proportion of working-age members .The savings can be used to rent minivans for them to go together to far off distances of work. Actors : community members, Local NGOs, CDF 3. Activities /tools: Establishing time banks for exchange of local trading systems where people invest their skills and knowledge rather than money leading to exchange of people’s knowhow. Actors : community members, Local 98

NGOs, CDF 4. Activities/tools : With the help of the community boards demonstrating the interests and aims of the saving groups. Actors : CSNC, CDF, community leaders 5. Activities/tools : The micro economic activities of the community such as garbage recycling, processing of morning glory can be linked to the larger markets by forming networks. Actors : CSNC, CDF, Local authorities, Local NGOs






What Using collective spaces and infrastructure as catalysts for upgrading individual living conditions. Creating scope of collaboration and coordinating efforts of people with city-wide infrastructure projects. The main aim is to use upgrading of collective spaces as a way to selfupgrade incrementally. For example, upgrading of public spaces and roads can stimulate people to incrementally improve their quality of life.



Why Infrastructure is one of the main objectives for local governments in Cambodia. In the past few years, the principal roads of the city have being upgraded progressively. However, in the midst of the larger visions of the city and limitations of economic resources, smaller settlements are subject to delayed interventions and in some cases not even that. Based on field experience there were some efforts seen by the communities towards building their own walkways and small roads through their local technologies and savings group programs. These interventions have gradually changed their quality of life in terms of housing upgrading and garbage management.



How 1. Activities/tools: Using activities such as clean the canal, temporary improvements of common spaces and walkways to demonstrate physical and social changes through space. Actors : community members, CDF, Local NGOs,university students 2. Activities/tools: Upgrading entrances to smaller settlements along with constructing main road as a part of one entire project. Actors : MPP, Community leader, CDF, Private investors 3. Activities/tools: Encouraging the communities to inform themselves about the new developments happening around in order to link it with their economic activities. Actors : CDF, CSNC, community members 4. Activities/tools: opening platforms where people can demonstrate the 102

benefits of improving their living conditions and broadening their scope of negotiation for funds and secure tenure. Actors : community members, khan, CDF 5. Activities/tools: Creating spaces for demonstrating the negative impacts on the lives of the people because of the large scale infrastructure projects to the various urban actors Actors : private developers, municipal, government, ministry LMUPC, Khan offices




DECISION MAKING PROCESS What To engage the community in decision and planning processes that affect them by co-production of knowledge between various actors. Especially encouraging public engagement in the production of land information and city development processes.



Why Learning from the relocation and upgrading projects existing in Cambodia , there is lack of communication between government and community both during and post-development process. The visions of both the people and other urban developers may seem aligned at some points but their methods of moving towards it were different.The scope of negotiation was confined as the engagement of community in decision making process was almost negligent. This inclusion of community promotes transparency and accountability in development process.



HOW 1. Activities/tools: Activities such as mapping resources for on site upgrading, assisted by NGO and university students to materialize the knowledge. The knowledge can then be integrated with upgrading plan to negotiate with government and to illustrate the effects of the plan in the future. Actors : Community members, CDF, universities 2. Activities/tools: Regular workshops conducted between community representatives, NGO’s involved in community upgrading and government officials responsible for settlement upgrading and housing policy implementation to discuss the methodology for the implementation of the housing policy. Actors : community leaders & CSNC Khan representatives, CDF, CANCAM and general department of housing, district scale: Office for Land management, urban planning and 106

Cadastre and Construction 3. Activities : Communities to create media platforms (through newsletters, social media etc) that increase the visibility of both the externalities that communities suffer from city development projects and communities self-initiated development progress. Actors : CDF , CSNC, community members 4. Activities/tools: Using popular NGO’s or government should organize public discussions or debates on popular media (radio, television, newspaper) about the rapid development of cambodia to evaluate the transformation processes that are shaping the cities, such as large scale landfills, relocations, new high rises, and their impacts on people’s lives. Actors : NGOs , municipal, community members, government 5. Activities/tools: Urban forum -

Based on the partnership between private developers,people,NGOs and the government that regularly convene,organise events, discussions to be aware of each others efforts in order to coordinate, discuss values, costs and opportunities of development practices in the transformation process of the city. Actors : Private real estate firms,NGOs, general department of housing (national), Office for Land management, urban planning and Cadastre and Construction .(district)




“Every activity leads to the change of power relationship, it is also the upgrading of poor people’s power to work together more collectively to be able to negotiate with government and others” - Somsak Phonphakdee, May 2015, Phnom Penh




Role of practitioner, 2015, Group work 110



6.1 Conclusion Cambodia’s dynamic context of transition has been shaped by various complexities of historical, social and political forces thus making it a very challenging subject of research. The report operationalizes our theoretical base with the understanding of the practicalities based on field experience into strategies that are focused on people driven transformative processes. Cambodia’s positive transformation is defined by us as a people-driven transformative process that takes place when grassroots movements or people’s initiatives start influencing higher political decisions shaping their city and country. This would require building collective agency, increasing visibility and transparency by using people’s knowledge which were developed as principles by us. Using these principles as lenses of analysis, it became evident that there was a disconnect between the

transformations in people’s everyday life and the larger visions shaping the city and its development, the two scales introduced in defining transformation. Even though people through local technology and resilience have been transforming their lives, lack of agency, trust, social cohesion and accountability makes it difficult for these small-scale transformative processes to impact on the larger transformations at the city scale. It was established that the typology of the case sites and their findings connect to larger issues impacting Cambodia’s development such as impacts of relocation, externalities from landfills for large scale real estate developments and challenges of city-wide upgrading at national scale. These findings developed into strategic proposals that envisioned to strengthen and align people-driven transformation initiatives and processes in order to impact and influence the larger transformations shaping the country’s

vision. Our strategy challenges the existing power hierarchies and provokes to rethink Cambodia’s current urban development practices. Through the interrelated and incremental nature of the different areas of interventions, people’s effort can be made visible and collective agency created can empower people to challenge the power hierarchies shaping Cambodia’s transformation. The guidelines and tools proposed taps on the existing potentialities of both people and the city, developing them into meaningful collaborations between various urban actors that guide the processes towards achieving positive transformation. Our approach of using people’s knowledge in the transformative processes shaping Cambodia’s development reflects the enriching experience we felt throughout the project of learning from the immense potentialities and creativity within people.


6.2 Role of practitioner Defining our roles as a development practitioner before, during and after the field work was an important and very challenging experience. Having encountered the reality of field, we believe our positionality is highly dynamic and requires constant re-thinking and re-defining of the principles and ethos that govern it. Placing ourselves in the process of Cambodia’s transformation gave us an insight of both the people’s and our own capabilities and capacities, helping us understand our roles and challenges better. Development practitioner as defined by Hamdi can be seen as someone skilfully making space for change to happen and cultivating choice in a messy and unequal world (Hamdi, 2004). We believe our role extends beyond providing solutions for people and focusses on how to ignite moments within the realm of our capacities and values, while working with the people, to create spaces that generate transformative changes. We 114

think that the success of this process is not measured quantitatively but qualitatively as even small instances of transformative changes in people’s everyday life, if people-driven and increasing their agency, can eventually evolve into significant transformations of people’s lives. Positioning our role in Cambodia’s transformation, as shown in the diagram, the development practitioner can be seen as always operating between the two scales of city and people, connecting and minimising gaps that are created by attitudes and practices of both people and powerful urban actors. In designing strategies for transformative processes our role is also to challenge and change bigger discourses that are shaping the city, by proposing and strengthening people-driven processes. The following paragraphs reflects upon some of the major challenges and themes that we believe shape the understanding

of the our roles as a development practitioner.



Our Positionality One of the biggest learnings from the field was to confront the imperfections of ethics. Our methodology as a practitioner was largely influenced by our positionality which emerges from our values and our background, in terms of culture, politics and class. But we also experienced that our perception and positionality is influenced by the partners we collaborate with in the field, because they are introducing the communities and framing the issues. It can be a challenge to balance our values with the expectations and ethics of the people we work with. Enablers not Providers Being directly involved with the communities, we learned to appreciate more fully the richness of knowledge embodied in people and their environments, allowing us to cross and diffuse conventional boundaries of skills exchange and knowledge production. During the field experience we realised 116

that sometimes it is necessary to move away from our defined roles, to leave our ego behind and reshuffle our thoughts to open more fully to the people you are working with. We discerned that as practitioners, it was challenging to accept our role as not providers but enablers. This role is indicative of engaging with the people in order to co-produce knowledge. However, the validity of the co-production of knowledge is questionable because participation often involves some level of placation, as the practitioner (perhaps unconsciously) preplans outcomes and manipulates people to achieve the desired outcome from community activities (Jones, Petrescu & Till, 2005).


Coping with the Unexpected Having studied theories of participation and developing our strategic activities of community participation on field, it was realised that the entire process has elements of uncertainty and limitation associated with it. Uncertainties are present throughout the whole process of working with people, especially when concerned with urban transformation issues which involve many actors. We have to acknowledge there are limitations to the extent we can control or guide the process we envision and the outcomes we aim to achieve. A constant struggle to scale up and down the expectations and outcomes of the activities and their potential for transformation, further complexifies our role as development practitioner.


have been able to initiate a moment of transformative change or process driven by people. What makes it difficult is the acceptance of the reality that the ‘context’ or ‘community’ in which we work is independent of us. The places and people will still be there even if we are not. Nonetheless, we are inspired to continue putting our heart and time towards creating spaces for people to start transformative processes.

Letting go Dealing with the complex nature of positionality, ethics, participation and uncertainty, another big challenge is to detach ourselves and let go after we 6. CONCLUSION AND REFLECTIONS 117


I. Bibliography


ADHOC (2013). A Turning Point? Land, Housing and Natural Resources Rights in Cambodia in 2012. Report. [Online] Available at: upload/pdf/ADHOC-A_Turning_Point_Land_Housing_NRM_2012.pdf (Accessed 26th April 2015) ADHOC (2014). Land Situation in Cambodia 2013. Report. [Online] Available at: (Accessed 30th May 2015) Agamben, G. (2005). State of Exception. Chicago: University of Chicago Press Anderson, D. & Ackerman Anderson, L. (2010) What is Transformation, and Why Is It So Hard to Manage? Available [online] at: SR_WhatIsTransformation_v3_101006.pdf Appadurai, A. (2002). Deep Democracy: Urban Governmentality and the Horizon of Politics. Public Culture 14(1), 21–47. Bapat, Meera (1985) Depriving the Poor to Provide for the Rich: A Case of Slum Clearance through Private Enterprise, in Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 20, No. 41, pp. 1734-1736. Boano, C. & Kelling, E. (2013). Towards an Architecture of Dissensus: Participatory Urbanism in South-East Asia. Footprint, 13, 41-62. Boano, C. & Martén, R. (2013) Agamben’s urbanism of exception: Jerusalem’s border 120

mechanics and biopolitical strongholds. Cities, 34, 6–17 Fallavier, P. (2002) Reporting on slums in selected cities for the Global Report on Human Settlements 2003 - Phnom Penh. (August 2002). General Secretariat of Council for Land Policy (2010). National Housing Policy. Kingdom of Cambodia. Hamdi, N. (2004). Small Change. London: Earthscan. Hughes, C. (2003) The Political Economy of Cambodia’s Transition, 1991–2001. [Online]. Abingdon, UK: Taylor & Francis. [online]. Available from: http://www. Islam, Prachumporn Panroj & Kioe Sheng Yap (1989) Land-Sharing as a Low Income Housing Policy: An Analysis of its Potential, in Habitat International, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 117-126. Khmer Rouge: Evolution of the Academic Debate, (2015). [online] Available at: cgi?article=1004&context=histsp [Accessed 15 Mar. 2015]. Mgbako, C. & et al. (2010) Forced Eviction and Resettlement in Cambodia: Case Studies from Phnom Penh. Washington University Global Studies Law Review. 9 (1), . [online]. Available from: cgi?article=1040&context=g 121

Nam, S., 2011. Phnom Penh: From the Politics of Ruin to the Possibilities of Return. TDSR 2011. Ngoun, K. (2013). Rethinking Cambodia’s Transformation in New Mandala, asiapacific. [accessed May 10 2014] OECD (2011). Perspectives on Global Development 2012: Social Cohesion in a Shifting World,OECD Publishing, UNISDR (2009). UNISDR Terminology on Disaster Risk Reduction. Handbook. Geneva: United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Pike, J. (2015). Cambodia 1975-79 - Year Zero / Killing Fields. [online] Globalsecurity. org. Available at: [Accessed 15 Mar. 2015]., (2015). Stephen brookes - home - Cambodian Modern: The Architectural Legacy of Vann Molyvann. [online] Available at: http://www. [Accessed 15 Mar. 2015].




II. List of figures


0. FRONT MATTER 0.1 _ CDF / CAN_CAM, 2015 0.2 _ International workshop Citywide upgrading transformation in Cambodia, 2015 at RUFA university (Phnom Penh) 0.3 _ Informal settlement in Phnom Penh, 2015, Sharon Ambrosio 0.4 _ Cambodian spirit house, 2015, Josè Aguirre 0.5 _ Street life, 2015, Josè Aguirre 0.6 _ Street life, 2015, Josè Aguirre 0.7 _ Child, 2015, Sharon Ambrosio 0.8 _ Gasoline, 2015, Josè Aguirre 0.9 _ Process diagram, 2015, Group work 0.10 _ 2015, Josè Aguirre 0.11 _ International workshop - citywide upgrading in Cambodia, 2015, Josè Aguirre 0.12 _ Pagoda, 2015, Josè Aguirre 0.13 _ Informal settlement in Phnom Penh, 2015, Vishakha Jha INTRODUCTION 1.1 _ Tuk Tuk,2015, Josè Aguirre 1.2 _ Statue at RUFA university,2015, Josè Aguirre 2. CONTEXTUALIZING CAMBODIA 2.1 _ Building an independent Cambodia, 2015, Group work 2.2 _ Molyvann: The Institute for Foreign Languages, Phnom Penh / Copyright © 2006-14, Stephen Brookes. All rights reserved / 2.3 _ Molyvann: The National Sports Complex, Phnom Penh / Copyright © 2006-14, Stephen Brookes. All rights reserved. / 2.4 _ Murdered victims of the Khmer Rouge, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Phnom Penh, Cambodia — March 18, 2004 / Hey 126

Brian / 2.5 _ Killing Fields, 2015, Cristian Robertson De F 2.6 _ Map year zero, 2015, Group work 2.8 _ UN peacekeepers from Indonesia patrol the streets of Phnom Penh in an armoured personel carrier on August 27, 1993, amid the morning rush hour traffic / STR New/Courtesy Reuters / 2.7 _ Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen / Photo: VOV world / 2.9 _ The Cambodians say farewell to Vietnamese volunteer soldiers when then return home after the victory / Photo: VNA / 2.10 _ Timeline, 2015, Group work 2.11 _ Khan, 2015, Tasneem Nagi 2.12 _ Actors diagram current situation, 2015, Group work 2.13 _ Destroyed homes in Borei Keila, Phnom Penh, Cambodia/ Amnesty International / 2.14 _ Relocations dynamics, 2015, Group work 2.15 _ Evictions and elections relationship, 2015, Group work adapted from Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, (2011). DIPLACED FAMILIES: PHNOM PENH 1990-2011. Newsletter. Phnom Penh: STT 2.16 _ yangkhm, 2010, 2.17 _ Timeline, 2015, Group work 3. TRANSFORMATION IN TIME OF TRANSITION 3.1 _ Borei Keila, 2015, Josè Aguirre 3.2 _ Koh pich island, 2015, Josè Aguirre 3.3 _ Transformation diagram, 2015, Group work 3.4 _ Positive Transformation diagram, 2015, Group work


4. SITES & FIELDWORK FINDINGS 4.1 _ Sites’ location in Cambodia, 2015, Group work 4.2 _ Anlong Kngan, 2015, Yuexin Yan 4.3 _ Boeung Veng Reik Chamroeun, 2015, Vishakha Jha 4.4 _ Boeung Choeuk Meanchey Thmey 2, 2015, Bente Iselin 4.5 _ Anlong Kngan spatial schematic representation of relocation, 2015, Group work 4.6 _ Boeung Veng Reik Chamroeun spatial schematic representation of canal community upgrading, 2015, Group work 4.7 _ Boeung Choeuk Meanchey Thmey spatial schematic representation of landfills, 2015, Group work 4.8 _ People’s knowledge, 2015, Sharon Ambrosio 4.9 _ Visibility, 2015, Sharon Ambrosio 4.10 _ Transparency, 2015, Hui Zeng 4.11 _ Collective Action, 2015, Cristian Robertson De F. 4.12 _ People’s knowledge, 2015, Sri Suryani 4.13 _ Transparency, 2015, Cristian Robertson De Ferrari 4.14 _ Collective Actions, 2015, Josè Aguirre 4.15 _ People’s knowledge, 2015, Josè Aguirre 4.16 _ Visibility, 2015, Tasneem Nagi 4.17 _ Environment affected by externalities, 2015, Jose Aguirre 4.18 _ Marginalized affected by externalities, 2015, Jose Aguirre 4.19 _ Vice Major of Kampong Thom, 2015, Vishakha Jha 4.20 _ Garbage recycling, 2015, Cristian Robertson De F 4.21 _ Workshop, 2015, Camillo Boano 4.22 _ Households numbers, 2015, Hui Zeng 4.23 _ Project presentation to the Khan, 2015, Jose Aguirre 4.24 _ “Dream community” workshop, 2015, Xin Wang 128

4.25 _ Project presentation to the Vice Mayor, 2015, Sri suryani 4.26 _ Private housing development, 2015, Jose Aguirre 4.27 _ Anlong Kngan settlement, 2015, Yuexin Yan 4.28 _ Forced Evictions / Nicolas Axelrod of the RUOM Collective / 5. STRATEGIES FOR TRASFORMATIONS 5.1 _ Transformation diagram influenced by the strategy, 2015, Group work 5.2 _ Maps of the strategy at the country and city-scale, 2015, Group work 5.3 _ Evolution of the strategy and areas of interventions, 2015, Group work 5.4 _ Community meeting discussing common interests, 2015, Josè Aguirre 5.5 _ Activities within the community enabling social cohesion , 2015, Josè Aguirre 5.6 _ Workshop to understand collective needs , 2015, Yuexin Yan 5.7 _ Spatial representation of guidelines towards social cohesion, 2015, Group work 5.8 _ Actors diagram, 2015, Group work 5. 9 _ Family booklet, 2015, Josè Aguirre 5.10 _ Savings group’s leader, 2015, Sharon Ambrosio 5.11 _ Spatial representation of guidelines towards the re-structure of savings groups, 2015, Group work 5.12 _ Actors diagram, 2015, Group work 5.13 _ Collective meeting spaces within the community, 2015, Josè Aguirre 5.14 _Public alley within the community, 2015, Josè Aguirre 5.15 _ Spatial representation of guidelines towards increasing collective space and infrastructure, 2015, Group work 5.16 _ Actors diagram, 2015, Group work 5.17 _ Project presentation to the governor and government’s officials, 2015,Josè Aguirre 5.18 _ Community’s participation in dream community exercise to discuss up gradation options, 2015, Community member 5.19 _ Spatial representation of guidelines towards the engagement of people in the decision making process, 2015, Group work 129

5.20 _ Actors diagram, 2015, Group work 6. CONCLUSION AND REFLECTIONS 6.1 _ The role of practitioner in the process of transformation, 2015, Group work 6.2 _ Working with the community, 2015, Wang Xin 6.3 _ Relationship between the practitioner and the community member, 2015, Vishakha Jha


The appendices describe the in more detail the work we did and what we learned before, during and after the field trip. Appendix A contains all the preperatory work and lectures for the our preliminary understanding and analysis of Cambodia. The historical research framework we used and our pre-field diagnosis are discussed. Appendix B illustrates the different methodologies used during the field work. Finally, appendix C contains personal reflections of group members on the whole experience of the project. More than a chronological summary, the appendices illustrate the process of how the field experience re-shaped our basic definition of transformation in Cambodia and how the learnings on site can not be separated from the pedagogical methodology applied.


Cambodian Women, 2015, Witee Wisuthumporn


We presented our understanding of transformation in Cambodia through four historical phases. For each phase we applied four themes of analysis; flows of people and capital, rural-urban migration, political events-legal framework timeline and an actor diagram. We defined transition separately from transformation, which we refined after the fieldtrip. At this stage, we created posters illustrating the four phases and an action plan booklet to help us prepare for practical work in the field.


Building an independent Cambodia: 1953 - 1974 Cambodia was under the French rule from 1863-1953. Cambodia gained independence in 1953, cutting short the implementation of the city’s first masterplan aimed at densification and industrialisation. Under the Independent administration of king Sihanouk the search for national identity led to the development of “Modern Khmer Architecture”, an amalgamation of traditional Southeast Asian architecture and French modernism. By 1960s the city of Phnom Pehn was referred as the “prettiest capital in Southeast Asia” (Nam, 2011). Development was focussed on mega-urban projects like the National Olympics sports complex, Bassa River front development, university complexes and social housing projects. Architect Vann Molyvann, with buildings such as the Chaktomok theatre and the institute of Foreign studies, played an important role establishing recognition for the new dentity of the country.

A fate determined by global forces: 1979 - 2000 From 1979 Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) was under the occupation of the Vietnamese army. In 1985 Hun Sen becomes prime minister and and through current inhabitants without ownership titles are recognized and receive legal access to public authorities. As the soviet bloc deteriorates 1989, international pressures mount to end the conflict and Cambodia becomes one of several poor communist states that are democratized through external aid dependency rather than internal grassroots movements. (Hughes, 2003). The UN transitional authority Cambodia (UNTAC) that stages elections in 1992 promotes pro business policies in favour of free market trade. Successful independent elections are finally held in 1999, in which urban issues, after decades of neglect, become part of the national agenda again. The CPP wins and the same year the last fractions of Khmers rouges disappear. The 90s thus signify a threefold transition for Cambodia, a transition to peace, democracy and to a free market economy.

Expanding into the next millenium: 2000 - present The period between 2001-2008, Cambodia underwent many changes in terms of housing policies, land and economic policies. The Urban Poverty Reduction Strategy (UPRS) was launched and Hun Sen renamed squatters as “ temporary residents�, promising to upgrade 100 slums a year. Despite 4 pilot slum upgrading projects the government did in 2003, these policies seem to have failed largely. The years 2008-2012 are marked by massive forced evictions and increasingly distant relocation sites. In 2012, the government suspended the granting of land for development by private companies to curb evictions and illegal logging. This happened in anticipation of the 2013 elections and it remains to be seen if these policies will effectively curb the global market forces that are rapidly transforming the cityscape. This project of beautifying the city has aggressively pushed urban poor out of the centre



During our initial research through journals and articles about Cambodia, we gathered political events and legal framework information chronologically. In addition, we found information about land law and Cambodia’s constitutional structure. From the research, we summarized the information into diagrams. The timeline shows the relationship between political events and the development of the country’s legal framework. The other diagrams shows the Cambodian political hierarchy of legislation, the types of land defined by the land law and the pathways available for communities looking to resolve land conflicts. By understanding the actors involved in land, we prepared ourselves for meeting them in the field, including local and national authorities. Moreover, we learned that the legal framework is still in evolution and there are many challenges the country faces in the implantation of its policies and programs. This awareness has helped us frame the issues we discovered in the community workshops on site and it has informed our approach to the strategy.


Site Visit, 2015, Witee Wisuthumporn


Speaker: Mr. Somethearith Din (Ritz) Position: Co-founder & CEO, The Frangipani Villa HotelS Group Location: Norton University Date: 05-05-2015 Lecture1: Planning and policy for managing the urban transformation and development in Cambodia


Phnom Penh Site Visits

Borei Keila Community As a land-sharing project, it consists of a large number of informal settlements shaped mostly by individualistic interests. The complexities of the groups involved and their varying interests and actions made the community non-cohesive and unorganised. The decision of the developer to build less number than the required number of buildings for relocation created tension inside the community. The mechanism of land sharing that allows some community members to stay in the site and relocate some community members to other site also affect the social relations within the community.

Rousrey Community Located in the periphery of Boeung Kak Lake, the community illustrates dynamics between on-site-upgrading and emergence of new development project. The community was engaged in infrastructure upgrading project for UPDF in 2002 as they had a well-organized saving groups. However, the new development on the lake created complexities for the communities that were evicted or relocated affecting their saving group network. Initially the network consisted of 48 communities, but at present only 7 are remaining. Currently, the community is reorganizing their saving group in order to upgrade their infrastructure.

Chung Ruk Community This site, located 12 kms from the urban area was developed in used to live in Bandos Vichea. The people were immediately relocated to the undeveloped land by the government, providing only plotted land without any basic infrastructure. Supported by NGOs, the community created community map, built the alleys and proposed their plan to the government for support. However, only half of the community members stayed in the relocation site, while the other community members returned back to the city to for their job and livelihood. Currently, the community has reorganized saving group to upgrade their public facilities and organising themselves to appeal for land title.

Andong Community seen as an opportunity if it is located close to the any place or a source that provides for job opportunities. In this case, the village is located in the Por Sen Chey District, where the high concentration of factories give the inhabitants an accessible job opportunity. The community is located far from the city center but has enough inhabitants to allow certain urban dynamics to occur at smaller scale. After being relocated, the people in Andong started opening small shops or activities to sustain life in the village. It also illustrates the involvement of international NGO in shaping the upgrading process.

Stung Kambot Community This site located near the Kop Sreou dyke, 9km from the urban area, currently accommodates 60 families and is in future is planned for 147 families. Due to the site being distant and isolated from the main city, community members have mobilized their own savings and leveraged other funds to buy alternative land close to Kork Kleang. The lack of sanitation remains a problem on the site. Also, the site being lower than the surrounding areas is likely to be largely affected by the community members.

Community along the river, Russey Keo District Tonle Sap River, destroying 452 houses. Most residents settled here over a hundred years ago. The communities that were burnt down have developed and strong women’s saving groups, which are a part of wider district community saving network. Due to its location along the river, most of the every year, thus building houses on stilts.

Ek Rangsey Community Rangsey vegetable sellers across the river from the royal palace with 182 families residing there since 1979. They have built a tiled walkway, drainage line throughout the whole settlement and planted trees all along collectively in just one month, thus making the process faster. To strengthen and widen the space for the new walkway, 19 families agreed to move their houses backwards to increase space for the walkway by taking improvement loans of $8,550.

Koulaloum 1 & 2 Communities Koulaloum 1 & 2 Communities located in Sangkat Chroy Chang Gva are adjacent to Cham Muslim settlements (total 447 households) and lies within a densely crowded area along the Mekong River.These communities have been very active in organising themselves into saving groups and large producers to concrete road. So far only 33 families have taken housing loans ($15,200 in total).


Site Group 1: List of Activities

Site Group 1: Workshops The Dream House Why: To identify living conditions inside the houses, understand habitability conditions of the settlement and list priorities chosen by the community to be included in upgrading plans. How: The community was divided in two groups, with two facilitators in each group. Earlier specific colours were chose to model people, cooking spaces, water, toilets, green spaces, and others. Cardboard, glue, plasticine, and scissors were distributed among the participants. At the end of the activity people presented their houses to each other. One facilitator transcribed the information in a sheet identify common issues. What: A card board model of each house and a list with commonalities between different house designs, identifying the main issues to be considered in a technical project. As a response, the students produced a design for an incremental housing project

The Dream Community Why: To discuss and define a preliminary layout with the community using two possible scenarios: on-site upgrading and relocation. The aim of the exercise was two-fold, to start thinking as a community (common versus individual) and, additionally, to discuss and achieve common agreements in relation to the distribution (or relocation) of the houses, the definition of shared spaces, garbage management, etc. How: The community was divided in two groups, with two facilitators in each group. The first task was to distribute the order of all the houses in the community. Once this part was completed, the group was asked to discuss and translate into a common map the decisions agreed upon. At the end of the activity the community members presented to each other the maps they produced. One facilitator transcribed the outcomes into a big sheet to identify the common issues among the groups.

What: Two maps in large format (double A0) with the drafts of the housing projects dreamed by the community.

Site Group 1: Presentation to Local Authorities and Local Partners (CDF, CAN-CAM, ACHR)

Site Group 2: List of Activities

Site Group 2: Workshops Housing survey and Environmental research Why: First, to clarify and improve existing information about the community, by understanding personal stories and the differences among households. Secondly, to investigate the flooding problem and identify its root causes. Thirdly, to map community driven solutions and innovations in response to flooding. How: Get detailed information in each household of the community through interviews and by visiting and mapping surrounding communities, developments, environment and infrastructure. What: A family book showing individual house plans and family information. Also we started a conversation on the dynamics of flooding and landfills.

Participatory Mapping Why: To clarify information with the community, understand needs, identify problems and opportunities, sharing ideas. How: Participatory mapping exercises: - Transect walks - “Mark your house” - “Tag your favourite things about the community” What: New updated map of the houses and walkways in the commmunity.

Community Reblocking Workshops

The Talking Jacket

Why: To help the community understand their options, negotiate their preferences to arrive at a common vision for the future of the community. Also, we tried to find out if the men and women in the community had different priorities.

Why: To allow member of the community to have the opportunity to speak and encourage everyone to express their ideas. This was done to prevent several strong voices dominating the reblocking negotiations.

How: By providing different reblocking possibilities with pros and cons of each. The community was split up into two groups, men and women, to discuss the two different reblocking options we provided. Someone would take notes of the discussion within each group. Then the groups switched models and continued discussing.

How: Providing a yellow vest which should be worn by the person who is going to express his/her opinion, after which they can pass it on to the next person who want to talk about their ideas.

What: Master plan options and list of ideas for upgrading shared community spaces.

What: A greater diversity of voices and perspectives involved in the discussion about reblocking and a less chaotic discussion than the previous day.

Site Group 3: Activities List

Site Group 3 Workshop Understanding domestic spaces and drawing house designs Why: To understand perceive scale at the level of their household and how they use the space available to them. Also, to visualize the aspirations people have for their homes. How: By mapping activities people do in their house. First in a small plot similar to the current house sizes in the community, to illustrate the current use of space. Then by mapping on a larger plot the “dream” house people want, in order to find potential functions that are currently lacking. What: Both original and “dream” house drawings were produced to figure out what the intermediate house size should be, the “negotiated” house, and what kind of functions should be considered in the future housing designs for the community.

Discussing the upgrading priorities Why: To help the community members to identify the issues and potentials, both at the scale of their immediate surrounding and of the whole community, in order to negotiate and decide the collective priorities. How: Mapping daily activities with community members by using the site map to ask community members where they live, where they often go and connect these places to see which street has greatest potentiality for intervention. Asking what problems community members recognize such as housing issues in the site, surroundings and entire areas. Play with kids to draw their dream house. What: A visualisation of uprading priorities, information on the spatial patterns people’s lives within the community. Beautiful drawings of the children.

Site Group 3: Presentation to Local Authorities and Local Partners (CDF, CAN-CAM, ACHR)




The site is located along a public canal in the border of two Sangkats of Kampong

Location: Along the canal at Stueng Saen City, Kampong Thom Province Size: ≈3000m² Households: 31 (35 families)

the shacks with wood and recycled materials on piles. The illegal occupation of public land in urban areas is a common strategy used by the poor for better job opportunities, proximity to services and connectivity. However, insecure land tenure to land and many people are under constant threat of eviction.

business, motorcycle driver, recycling, civil servant Land: no land title Saving groups: start saving since 01 February 2014 with members of 14 families and amount of savings 720,000 Riel Committee: 3 persons Infrastructure: House: Poor Road: Poor Electricity: Not available (stealing) Water supply: Ordinary (buy) Drainage: Not available Garbage: Not available Toilet: Not available Actors: CDF- Kampong Thom CSNC ACHR ACCA Department of industry Private water suppy company



At the intersection of the Mekong and Tonle Sap River, Phnom Penh has always been a city of water. The urban landscape has been formed around a network of canals and

Location: On the lake (French creek), Khan Chbar Ampov, Meanchey District, Phnom Penh Size: 3375 m² Households: 36 (40 families) Community occupation: construction worker, small business, laundresses

lowest areas within the city, which often contain the homes of urban poor residents. Boeng Choek Meanchey velihoods.

Land: no land title Saving groups: start saving since 25 December 2005 with members of 37 families and amount of savings 570,000 Riel Infrastructure: House:Poor (sinking) Road: main road, ordinary; inside community, poor Electricity: Ordinary Water supply: Poor Drainage: Not available Garbage: Not available Toilet: Poor (50% families have) Actors: CDF, CSNC, Khan Chbar Ampov, Chbar Ampov high-school



Often in the process of relocation , people loose not just land but also their livelihoods, social connections education and job opportunities. There is often the lack of infrastructure and basic services in the relocation sites. Therefore, the lower-income residents need to pay high costs for clean water, electricity and transportation to city. Thus, many of these relocated residents move back into informal settlements in the city center. This perpetuates the cycle of eviction and relocation. For those who remain on the relocation site, it can take many years to build a new life and community.

Location: Along and around the canal in front of SenSok health center, SenSok Ty5 Village, Sangkatkhmuonh, SenSok district located around 15km from the urban area of Phnom Penh. Size: ≈2.3ha Community: Sen Rek Reay community (265 Families) Sen Ponleur 1 Community (70 Families) Sen Ponleur 2 Community (70 Families) Sen Suosdey Community (59 Families) Households: 464 Community occupation: construction workers, garment factory workers, Moto Dup taxi and some work in government. Land: public land, not yet have the security land Saving groups: have organized several saving groups Committee: 5 persons Infrastructure: House: Poor Road: Poor Electricity: Ordinary Water supply: Ordinary (buy) Drainage: Not available Garbage: Not available Toilet: Poor (1 for 10 families) Actors: CDF-Phnom Penh, UNCHS (toilet), Private enterpreneurs (water), Ministry of

dynamics and issues of relocation sites.



Group Discussion, 2015, Yuexin Yan

Post-field Presentation

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MSc BUDD: Synchronizing with the rhythm of the people | Cambodia  

The report is a final research outcome prepared by the Masters students of Building and Urban Design in Development (BUDD) on developing str...

MSc BUDD: Synchronizing with the rhythm of the people | Cambodia  

The report is a final research outcome prepared by the Masters students of Building and Urban Design in Development (BUDD) on developing str...

Profile for dpu-ucl