For more than 10 years, Ros Moan has been chief of Srae Thnong village, which includes many members from the Kuoy ethnic minority, in the north of Cambodia. He says it was often difficult to solve disputes in his remote community, due to a lack of knowledge about legislation and the absence of an established dispute resolution mechanism.
“When we tried solving disputes in the past, it often led to tense situations.”
The situation changed after an Access to Justice Committee for the Poor (AJC) was set up in the area: it gave the villagers a platform to talk about their problems, and to solve disputes before they escalate.
AJC was established in 2013 by Oxfam, in partnership with government stakeholders and other five local NGOs, to provide a space for local stakeholders to talk and solve problem on land ownership. It is part of the EU-Cambodia Co-operation Facility for Governance and Human Rights.
Moan said the committee gives good advice to people with disputes and encourages them to avoid escalating the problem and, solve it at the village. It helps him build stronger relationships with the people in his community, which in turn made dispute resolution easier.
Arn Loeun, a member of the committee who has been working in Srae Thnong village since 2013, said he has noticed a remarkable change in the villagers’ level of awareness about land and natural resource management.
“[As part of the committee] I have helped disseminate a lot of information about land management and rights. In the past, we knew nothing. To identify their land, people would just had to point at it and say it’s their land,” said Loeun.
When the project ended in December, Khan Chamnan, deputy governor of the province, said that “all the project achievements are important.” Achievements, good practices implemented and lessons learnt during the project now rest on local stakeholders’ shoulders.
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Do you want to know more about Oxfam’s work? You may watch this video with more information about our programme in Cambodia: : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wosc70xu3s4