It’s not much of street and nobody wants to be here. And just a few months ago the inhabitants were in a far different place. A far better place. *
For they were farmers, farming fertile land. Not making a lot of money, but getting by. With dignity intact.
That was until the Cambodian Kleptocracy that masquerades as government granted a powerful company the right to farm the land that these folk had been on for years.
Land title is notoriously difficult to prove in Cambodia, particularly if you are poor. So, with a few bribes here and there and the promise, often not kept, of meagre compensation to the affected, the barbarians within the government turn a blind eye to any legal and ethical niceties.
And the already poor lose their land.
Sure they protest and complain.
But in time they go. Police and government soldiers hired by the powerful new ‘owners’ see to that. They intimidate by force and by beating. Or, they simply bulldoze or burn their houses to the ground.
And they end up here. In bamboo shacks.
There is still life on the street, though, and kids always make the best of it don’t they? But it’s unlikely they will be schooled, here; the nearest school is some distance and their parents couldn’t afford books and uniforms and the transport, anyway.
“An estimated 400,000 people have been affected by land disputes since 2003, and government violence against land-grabbing victims is at an all-time high (the most shocking example coming when authorities shot dead a 14-year-old girl during an eviction). This large-scale transfer of land is facilitated by Cambodia’s land concession scheme, in which the government leases – private state land – to companies that agree to farm it. Occupants rarely receive proper compensation, and many receive no compensation at all.“
See http://www.licadho-cambodia.org/concession_timelapse/ for a timelapse map showing Cambodia’s great land grab.
* The people on this rural street in Cambodia’s Kein Svay district are evictees. And while I have no detailed knowledge of their individual case(s); the report is very typical of the situation of such people.
More Weekly Photo Challenges: Street life: here