Contacts: In Phnom Penh: Bou Saroeun (855) 12-217-301
In Washington: Elisabeth Mealey (202) 458 4475
PHNOM PENH, September 6, 2009 — Following a decision by the Council of Ministers on Friday 4 September to terminate World Bank financing of the Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP), World Bank Country Director for South-East Asia, Annette Dixon, made the following statement:
“Land security and a fair, transparent approach to resolving land disputes and resettlement are among the greatest challenges facing Cambodia today. People without land or secure title to land are much more likely to be poor and stay poor.
It’s for these reasons that the World Bank has been working intensively with Government, development partners and other stakeholders since 2002 to put in place a modern and comprehensive land administration system. This project has issued more than 1.1 million land titles, mostly to poor people in rural areas. However, recent land price increases, which have averaged over 30 percent, have been leading to land disputes, compensation issues, eviction processes and resettlement issues.
As part of our continuing dialogue with Government on these growing challenges, the World Bank undertook a review to find out whether LMAP was still achieving its intended outcomes given the rapidly changing land sector environment.
The review found that LMAP’s successes in land titling in rural areas have not been matched in urban areas where land disputes are on the rise. This was due in part to delays or lack of implementation of some project activities. While originally designed as a multi-pronged approach to addressing a range of land issues, LMAP focused on areas where it could be most successful: titling rural land and building the capacity of the land administration to register and title land and implement policy.
We have shared the findings of the review with the Government but could not come to agreement on whether LMAP’s social and environmental safeguards should apply in some of the disputed urban areas. For the World Bank, the implementation of these safeguard policies is critical. However, we are encouraged by the Government’s statement of its commitment to continuing reforms in the land sector and working towards an improved policy and legal framework for resettlement that reflects their commitment to international treaties.
We remain committed to working with Government and other development partners through the Technical Working Group on Land to support Cambodia’s efforts to secure land tenure, reduce poverty, and improve economic opportunity for all of its people.”