Urban poor communities in Phnom Penh are increasingly located in the outskirts of the capital. Some commentators link this development to the successful Government poverty reduction policies. Others however point to the displacement of over 100,000 residents since 2000. The 8 Khan Survey, published by STT in 2009, shows that life in the outer districts is significantly harder. In the over 50 resettlement sites that have been established, access to work, health care, schools, and markets is more difficult. Fear of eviction remains high, and while some resettlement sites have registration documents, the vast majority of urban poor settlements remain untitled. Provision of infrastructure in the outer districts, including road access, drainage, sanitation, and waste management is in many cases markedly lower than in the centre of the city. State provision of affordable water and electricity in the outer districts is around 40%, with private suppliers meeting the remaining demand, but marking up prices by up to 1000%. Meanwhile, residents in many relocation sites are opting to move back to the centre of the city.
The first part of this project aims to engage architecture students (who have already formed a group after participating in STT’s student workshop last year) to work with alongside a relocated community and to use their skills in exploring ways to improve the living conditions on site. The students will have the opportunity to listen to the issues within the community, discuss upgrading ideas and create a basic outline for improvements on the ground, elements of which will be realised on a revolving fund basis.