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Geographies of Evasion

The Development Industry and Property Rights Interventions in early 21st Century Cambodia

Robin Biddulph

Gteborg, 2010 Institutionen fr kulturgeografi och ekonomisk geografi Handelshgskolan vid Gteborgs Universitet Vasagatan 1 405 30 Gteborg

Department of Human and Economic Geography School of Business, Economics and Law University of Gothenburg Vasagatan 1 S-405 30 Gteborg


Robin Biddulph: Geographies of Evasion. The Development Industry and Property Rights Interventions in Early 21st Century Cambodia. 2010. Publications edited by the Departments of Geography, University of Gothenburg, Series B, no. 117. 288 pages. Department of Human and Economic Geography, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg. ISBN 91-86472-63-1. This study is an enquiry into the relationship between development industry interventions in rural areas and the lives and livelihoods of the people they are proposed to benefit. The study has two main departure points. One is the authors own experiences of the development industry in rural Cambodia, where interventions rarely have more than a marginal impact on peoples lives and livelihoods. The other is the way in which landmark studies of rural development projects featured misrepresentation of rural lives and livelihoods as central to their analysis of the failure of those projects. Early 21st Century development policy tends to focus on institutional change rather than project implementation, and property rights are often to the fore. By focusing on property rights interventions in Cambodia this study enables reflection on whether the patterns of misrepresentation evident three decades ago in project style interventions persist in contemporary institutionally oriented interventions. The study is framed as a critical geography of development intervention. In that respect it first attends to the spatial distribution of interventions in relation to the spatial distribution of key political economy phenomena they seek to address; it secondly employs contextualised studies of place in order to subject the generalising claims of theory and policy to critical analysis; thirdly, it employs a conceptualisation of development interventions as journeys, opening to scrutiny the interests and discourses that channel and filter them en route to implementation. The thesis includes three cases. A national case study of Cambodia examines the spatial distribution and causes of tenure insecurity and maps onto this the spatial distributions of systematic land titling and community forestry interventions. Two village case studies, one in a rice-field landscape and the other in a forest landscape, examine villagers livelihoods, the political economies that shape them, and the effects of systematic land titling and community forestry interventions in the villages. Misrepresentation was still found to be central to development practice: the livelihoods depicted in policy rhetoric and project documentation bore little resemblance to the livelihoods in the case study villages. Interventions were, furthermore, located away from the main problems which they were stated to address. Community forestry was implemented in places where the forest could no longer sustain livelihoods because it had been logged; land titling was implemented in places where tenure was already secure. These findings are explained as a geography of evasion and discussed as a form of development industry overreach. It is concluded that there may be little point in the development industry trying to extend rights to places where national governments are not prepared to enforce those rights. The implications of this finding for future policymaking and research are discussed. Keywords: Development geography; property rights interventions; land titling; community forestry; development industry; Cambodia ISSN 0346-6663 ISBN 91-86472-63-1
Distribution: Department of Human and Economic Geography School of Business, Economics and Law University of Gothenburg Vasagatan 1 S-405 30 Gteborg

Robin Biddulph Printed by Geson Gteborg 2010


I havent finished yet! I have more thinking and learning to do about the issues raised in this thesis. Creating a complete text from my incomplete thought processes has tested my abilities, not least my time management skills. As a consequence the drafts that I have circulated for comment have not generally been as near completion as I would have wished. Many people have helped generously with the production of this thesis. The limitations of the final product, however, are entirely my responsibility. To all who have contributed, please rest assured that I will continue to listen to criticism and advice and to try to continue learning. Thank you to all who read and commented on chapter drafts: Jonas Lindberg; Shaun Williams; Jerry Olsson; Claes Alvstam; Bertil Vilhelmson; Alix Kent; Lotta Frandberg; Fia Espling; Pelle Amberntsson; Peter Swift; Daniel Adler; an anonymous reader in Phnom Penh. Thanks also to Anders Larsson for the case study villages map and to Cheryl Cordeira for help with editing the pictures. Thank you for their generosity to the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography who funded two of the field trips for this thesis and to Geografiska freningen i Gteborg and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation who funded one field trip each. The thesis would have been much poorer, and the research would not have been such a joy to conduct without the contributions of Ton Saroth, Sang Dina, Phon Chanreth, Ouen Sokra. Thank you to all of you for your assistance and ideas and sense of humour. You are all friendly, open, respectful people, which is why villagers in Bey and Buon were happy to speak so freely with you and why you were such an outstanding research team. Thanks also to Te Phally and Hun Chaom who each participated in one research trip. And a special thanks to Nyik Nai who was a very special guest researcher on our final trip to Bey. At the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), thanks go to Rector Mr Lav Chhiv Eav, and to Acting Head of the Department of Geography Mr Bun Serey, both for facilitating my work and for taking an interest in it. Thanks also for the help of Luise Ahrens and Alastair Curry at RUPP and to all at the Cambodia Development Resource Institute and at the CBNRM Learning Institute for allowing me to present and for discussing ideas and findings with me. In the villages we were received with great friendliness and warmth. Thank you to the provincial, district, commune and village authorities who facilitated our work, to the families in Bey and Buon who hosted us, and to everyone who gave us their time. I hope to return often in the future and I hope to witness these villages going through happy times in the years ahead. Particular thanks and respect to Mr Sar Sovan at the Ministry of Land Management. It was always an inspiration to arrive at the Ministry and find you giving extra tuition to students from the university during your lunch breaks, and still finding time to talk to me. I do not think there are many senior bureaucrats anywhere who behave in that way. Many other women and men involved in Systematic Land Titling and Community Forestry made time to talk to me and to share information and ideas. You have my sincere thanks for your assistance and my respect for the work that you do. I hope that my often critical stance toward the development industry in general, and the particular conclusions drawn in this thesis do not make you feel that I have repaid your cooperation badly. I hope for further discussions and look forward to the spotlight being turned back on my assumptions and approach, as indeed it should be. Thanks in this regard to His Excellency Ty Sokhun, Mr Lao Sethephal, Franz Volker Mueller, Bodo Richter, Jouni Antonnen,


George Cooper, James Bampton, Khieng Sochivy, Koen Everaert, Try Horng, and to many others too numerous to mention. Thanks (and admiration) to Peter Swift, Daniel Adler, So Sovannarith, Amanda Bradley and Megan MacInnes all of whom engaged me in discussions in Cambodia. Thank you for your ideas and criticisms and I hope that this thesis will be of service. An older Phnom Penh debt is to Shaun Williams who was a wonderful colleague and friend ten years ago on the Cambodia Land Study Project. Every conversation we have reminds me of what a novice I am in matters related to land and land rights. I hope we meet again soon. In Gothenburg I have had wonderful support from colleagues at the Department of Human and Economic Geography. Associate Professor Inge Ivarsson has been the most professional and engaged supervisor anybody could possibly wish for. You were also brilliant in the villages Inge: Yahtsee and Frisbee were surely the right technology to transfer! Thank you for all your encouragement and hospitality. The development geography research group at the Department has been a great source of support and constructive criticism. Thank you Fia for constantly pushing us to read and discuss and broaden our horizons, and to Pelle and Jonas for your critical engagement. Professor Joakim jendal generously provided me with a thorough and critical reading of my draft at a review seminar in February, while Professors Claes Alvstam and Sten Lorentzon have both at different stages opposed drafts of this thesis in presentations at the department and provided valuable advice. Professor Bertil Vilhelmson, provided particularly helpful comments at times when I found myself in difficulty with the writing. The department has been a friendly and supportive work environment. Thank you all for the company. Especially to my neighbour Eva Bang, and my frequent lunch companions Katarina Gustafsson and Gran Olsson. In addition to friendliness there has been friendship. Many of us have experienced twists and turns in our lives these past four or so years. There have been times when I have been very grateful to have had friends at work. Special thanks in that respect to Lotta and Jonas for your patience and for being there when I needed you. Beyond the department David Craig at the Univeristy of Auckland was my deputy supervisor and also managed to make it out to Bey village with me on one occasion. Thanks, David, for all of the enthusiasm and advice, which helped maintain my energy in the final stages when I started to flag. Doug Porter, who taught me in Canberra a decade ago and introduced me to David continues to both inspire and disrupt my thinking. Thanks for that Doug, and also for hosting Peci and I those couple of idyllic days in Mullumbimby. The Internet enables us to access people who might otherwise be beyond our reach. I have been constantly surprised by the willingness of leading academics to field questions from a complete stranger and to provide information and guidance. In that respect, thanks to Jonathan Rigg, Chris Dixon, Stuart Rutherford and Tania Murray Li for your generous help and advice. Thanks for support and friendship from Szilard Nemes and Alix Kent. Also for occasional but always stimulating discussions with Bent Jrgensen. And to colleagues and former colleagues at Slttadam, Bjrkbacken and Focali who have made me feel welcome during my Sweden years. Being back in Europe has given me the opportunity to be closer to family and friends. I am grateful for the love and support I have received first and foremost from my Mum and my Dad, but also from my sisters Janice and Alison and my good friends Dominic Evans and Paul Toal. Finally, thank you to Saskia, Molly and Beatrice for being such wonderful daughters and for making me feel happy and proud every time I see you.

Gothenburg, May 2010 v


This thesis is dedicated to Peci Lyons, with thanks and love.


Table of Contents in Summary

ABSTRACT ........................................................................................................................................................... iii Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................................................ iv Table of Contents in Summary.......................................................................................................................... viii Table of Contents in Detail .................................................................................................................................. x List of Figures ..................................................................................................................................................... xv List of Tables ..................................................................................................................................................... xvi List of Acronyms .............................................................................................................................................. xvii 1 Introduction ............................................................................................................................................ 1 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 2 Failure, Misrepresentation and Rural Development Intervention..............................................................1 Was it Ever Thus? Misrepresentation and Failure 25 years ago ...............................................................4 Introducing the Case: Property Rights Interventions in Cambodia ..........................................................13 Thesis Aim and Research Questions .........................................................................................................15 Other Contributions of the Thesis ............................................................................................................16 Structure ..................................................................................................................................................17

A Critical Geography of Development Intervention ............................................................................... 19 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Introduction Normative Beginnings/Assumptions ................................................................................19 A Critical Geography of Development Intervention .................................................................................21 Fraught Journeys: from Western Origins to Southeast Asian Landscapes ...............................................26 Property Rights Theory and Interventions ...............................................................................................40 Conclusion ................................................................................................................................................55

Investigating Intervention at National and Local Scales ........................................................................ 57 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Justification of Overall Approach and Scales ...........................................................................................57 Evolution of Research Design and Selection of Cases ..............................................................................58 Conduct of the Village Studies .................................................................................................................61 Conduct of National Study .......................................................................................................................69 Ethics and Anonymity...............................................................................................................................70 Limitations ...............................................................................................................................................71 Summary ..................................................................................................................................................72


The National Case Study........................................................................................................................ 73 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Introduction .............................................................................................................................................73 Historical Background ..............................................................................................................................73 Immanent Development: A Geography of Tenure Insecurity in Cambodia ..............................................83 Intentional Development: A Geography of Property Rights Interventions in Cambodia..........................95


4.5 4.6 5.

The Relationship between the Two Geographies ...................................................................................104 Summary ................................................................................................................................................108

Community Forestry in Bey village ...................................................................................................... 111 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Introduction ...........................................................................................................................................111 Immanent Development: Lives and Livelihoods in Bey ..........................................................................112 Intentional Development: Community Forestry in Bey ..........................................................................147 Conclusions and Implications .................................................................................................................162 Summary ................................................................................................................................................165


Systematic Land Titling in Buon Village ............................................................................................... 167 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Introduction ...........................................................................................................................................167 Immanent Development: Lives and Livelihoods in Buon ........................................................................168 The Systematic Land Titling Intervention in Buon ..................................................................................186 Conclusions and Implications .................................................................................................................202 Summary ................................................................................................................................................205


Conclusions and Implications. ............................................................................................................. 209 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 Thesis Aim and Research Questions Revisited .......................................................................................209 Findings: Geographies of Evasion in Property Rights Interventions in Cambodia ..................................210 Explaining Geographies of Evasion in Property Rights Interventions in Cambodia ...............................213 Broader Relevance of this Thesis for the Development Industry ............................................................222 Implications of Geographies of Evasion for Development Industry Policies ..........................................224 Implications for Research .......................................................................................................................226

Summary ...................................................................................................................................................... 230 References ................................................................................................................................................... 234 Appendices................................................................................................................................................... 249 Appendix 1. List of Interviews Cited .................................................................................................................249 Appendix 2. Village Census Form .....................................................................................................................254 Appendix 3. 25% Livelihood Survey. ................................................................................................................255 Appendix 4. Case Study Households in Bey and Buon: Incomes and Expenditures 2006-7. ............................258 Appendix 5. Question List for Land and Livelihood Survey I (Bey village version) ...........................................259 Appendix 6. Sample Structured Interview Questions: Spring 2008 (Bey version) ............................................262 Appendix 7. Land and livelihood Survey (II) in Bey, October 2008 ...................................................................262 Appendix 8. Survey of Land Transactions in Buon 2009. Summary Data ........................................................263 Appendix 9. LMAP Written Questions and Response, April 2010 ....................................................................267 Meddelanden frn Gteborgs Universitets Geografiska Institutioner, Serie B................................................269


Table of Contents in Detail

ABSTRACT ........................................................................................................................................................... iii Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................................................ iv Table of Contents in Summary.......................................................................................................................... viii Table of Contents in Detail .................................................................................................................................. x List of Figures ..................................................................................................................................................... xv List of Tables ..................................................................................................................................................... xvi List of Acronyms .............................................................................................................................................. xvii 1 Introduction ............................................................................................................................................ 1 1.1 Failure, Misrepresentation and Rural Development Intervention..............................................................1 1.1.1 Rural Development Outcomes: Authors Experiences .....................................................................1 1.1.2 Impacts of Development Assistance: Academic Literature ..............................................................3 1.2 Was it Ever Thus? Misrepresentation and Failure 25 years ago ...............................................................4 1.2.1 The Anti-Politics Machine: the Thaba-Tseka Project ........................................................................5 1.2.2 Paved with Good Intentions: The Magarini Project .........................................................................8 1.2.3 The Object of Development: Americas Egypt................................................................................10 1.2.4 Reflections on the 1990s Studies ...................................................................................................12 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 2 Introducing the Case: Property Rights Interventions in Cambodia ..........................................................13 Thesis Aim and Research Questions .........................................................................................................15 Other Contributions of the Thesis ............................................................................................................16 Structure ..................................................................................................................................................17

A Critical Geography of Development Intervention ............................................................................... 19 2.1 Introduction Normative Beginnings/Assumptions ................................................................................19

2.2 A Critical Geography of Development Intervention .................................................................................21 2.2.1 Place-based studies and policy simplifications ...............................................................................21 2.2.2 Spatial Distribution: Mapping Development Interventions ...........................................................22 2.2.3 Development Interventions as Travel ............................................................................................25 2.2.4 Critical Geography of Development Intervention Recapitulated ...................................................26 2.3 Fraught Journeys: from Western Origins to Southeast Asian Landscapes ...............................................26 2.3.1 The Western Development Industry ..............................................................................................27 Policy Trajectories and Industry Trajectories ........................................................................27 Incentives in the Development Industry ...............................................................................29 2.3.2 The Nation State Gatekeeper and Development Partner ...........................................................31 The Development Partner Problematic ................................................................................31 Neo-patrimonialism ..............................................................................................................31 Shadow state ........................................................................................................................33 The Developmental State and Asian Values .........................................................................35 2.3.3 Uneven Landscapes of Rural Southeast Asia ..................................................................................35 Conceptualising Livelihoods ..................................................................................................35 Agriculture and Agrarian Transitions ....................................................................................36 Decoupling and Deagrarianisation in Southeast Asian Landscapes ......................................37 Agrarian Change and Resistance...........................................................................................39 2.3.4 Fraught Journeys Recapitulated .....................................................................................................40 2.4 Property Rights Theory and Interventions ...............................................................................................40 2.4.1 Introduction....................................................................................................................................40 2.4.2 Property Rights Definitions ............................................................................................................41 2.4.3 Theoretical Justifications for Land Titling .......................................................................................42

2.4.4 Theoretical Critiques of Land Titling ...............................................................................................44 The De Soto Factor................................................................................................................44 Markets are not benevolent .................................................................................................44 Tenure is not always reducible to simple formal ownership ................................................45 Formalisation is biased against women ................................................................................46 2.4.5 Empirical Evidence on Land Titling .................................................................................................46 Impact on Security and Investment ......................................................................................46 Impact on Access to Credit ...................................................................................................47 Impact on Land Markets .......................................................................................................47 Impact on revenue raising and other secondary impacts .....................................................48 Implementation issues ..........................................................................................................48 Spatial distribution of titling .................................................................................................49 Discursive claims: why land-titling travels well as policy ......................................................50 2.4.6 Theories of Common Property Rights ............................................................................................50 2.4.7 Critiques of Common Property Rights Approaches ........................................................................53 2.5 3 Conclusion ................................................................................................................................................55

Investigating Intervention at National and Local Scales ........................................................................ 57 3.1 3.2 Justification of Overall Approach and Scales ...........................................................................................57 Evolution of Research Design and Selection of Cases ..............................................................................58

3.3 Conduct of the Village Studies .................................................................................................................61 3.3.1 Research Team Composition ..........................................................................................................61 3.3.2 The Profile of the Research Team in the Villages ...........................................................................62 3.3.3 Conduct of Interviews ....................................................................................................................64 3.3.4 Village Census and Developing Analytical Categories ....................................................................65 3.3.5 Case study households ...................................................................................................................65 3.3.6 Iterative Research Process .............................................................................................................66 Inventory of Research activities ............................................................................................66 Field Visit 1 July and November 2006 ...................................................................................68 Field Visit 2, Spring 2007 .......................................................................................................68 Field Visit 3 September 2007 ................................................................................................68 Field Visit 4, January 2008 ....................................................................................................68 Field Visit 5, October 2008 ....................................................................................................69 Field Visit 6, March 2009 ......................................................................................................69 3.4 Conduct of National Study .......................................................................................................................69 3.4.1 Approach: Adopting and Adapting Bebbington .............................................................................69 3.4.2 Database Access for National Case Study ......................................................................................70 3.5 3.6 3.7 4. Ethics and Anonymity...............................................................................................................................70 Limitations ...............................................................................................................................................71 Summary ..................................................................................................................................................72

The National Case Study........................................................................................................................ 73 4.1 Introduction .............................................................................................................................................73

4.2 Historical Background ..............................................................................................................................73 4.2.1 Rural Inertia in Cambodian History ................................................................................................73 4.2.2 Colonial Influences .........................................................................................................................74 4.2.3 Post-Independence ........................................................................................................................75 4.2.4 UNTAC and Cambodias Second Transition to Democracy .............................................................77 4.2.5 Cambodia Today .............................................................................................................................79 4.2.6 The Myth of Dependency in Contemporary Cambodia ..................................................................81 4.3 Immanent Development: A Geography of Tenure Insecurity in Cambodia ..............................................83 4.3.1 The Emergence of Tenure Insecurity as a Political Problem ..........................................................83 4.3.2 Landlessness was not a Tenure Security Issue ...............................................................................86


4.3.3 Regional Distribution of Tenure Insecurity .....................................................................................87 4.3.4 Explanation .....................................................................................................................................91 Rice Farming Landscapes and the Transition to Market. ......................................................91 State Land and the Transition to Market. .............................................................................93 The Transition to Peace. .......................................................................................................93 4.3.5 Immanent Development and Tenure Insecurity in Summary ........................................................94 4.4 Intentional Development: A Geography of Property Rights Interventions in Cambodia..........................95 4.4.1 Systematic Land Titling ...................................................................................................................95 Geographical Distribution .....................................................................................................97 Explaining the Geography of Systematic Land Titling ...........................................................98 4.4.2 Community Forestry .......................................................................................................................99 Geographical Distribution ...................................................................................................100 Explanation of the Geographical Spread of Community Forestry ......................................102 4.5 The Relationship between the Two Geographies ...................................................................................104 4.5.1 Geographies of Evasion, and the Beginnings of Theory ...............................................................104 4.5.2 Applying a Geographies of Evasion Hypothesis............................................................................106 4.6 5. Summary ................................................................................................................................................108

Community Forestry in Bey village ...................................................................................................... 111 5.1 Introduction ...........................................................................................................................................111

5.2 Immanent Development: Lives and Livelihoods in Bey ..........................................................................112 5.2.1 Modern history of a Village in Forest ...........................................................................................112 Location ..............................................................................................................................112 1950-1970 Pre-War Lives and Livelihoods ..........................................................................112 1970-1994 Conflict and Its Aftermath: A local history ........................................................114 1994-2006 Peace and Development ...................................................................................116 5.2.2 Livelihoods Shaped by Deforestation ...........................................................................................116 Loggers and Rent-seekers Transform the Landscape .........................................................116 2004-2008: Demographic Transformation a trickle becomes a flood .............................118 Livelihood Activities During the Research Period ...............................................................121 Timber-related Livelihood Activities ..............................................................................122 Farming own land ..........................................................................................................126 Hiring Out Agricultural Labour .......................................................................................129 Gathering and Trading Non-Timber Forest Products .....................................................131 Trading land ...................................................................................................................133 Livelihood Activities in a Deforestation Trajectory .............................................................134 5.2.3 Prospects Explained: The Competition for Land ..........................................................................136 Introduction ........................................................................................................................136 The Vietnamese Company ..................................................................................................136 The Casotim Company and the Okhnyaa ............................................................................139 The Head-Teacher ... and The South Korean Company? ....................................................140 Cham Settlers ......................................................................................................................142 The Case of Khang Cheung..................................................................................................143 5.2.4 Reflections: Mediating Actors and Factors in the Competition for Land and Livelihoods ...........144 The Role of the Forest Administration ................................................................................144 Indigenous and Forest-dependent, but not Ethnically Different ........................................144 Community and how it mediates change .........................................................................145 5.2.5 Immanent Development and Livelihoods in Bey in Summary......................................................146 5.3 Intentional Development: Community Forestry in Bey ..........................................................................147 5.3.1 Introduction..................................................................................................................................147 5.3.2 View from the Village: The Story of Community Forestry as Experienced in Bey ........................147 5.3.3 Community Forestry in Bey: Meanings and Interpretation..........................................................150 5.3.4 Community Forestry Actors from Beyond the Village ..................................................................152 The Cambodian NGO Based in the Provincial Town ...........................................................152 The Cambodian NGO/donor: Footloose and Flexible .........................................................155


The International NGO Sub-contracting and Co-financing 2005-9 .....................................157 The Donor: Control Orientation Revisited ..........................................................................159 Encountering the Concessionaire Or Not.........................................................................161

5.4 Conclusions and Implications .................................................................................................................162 5.4.1 Bey and Cambodian Community Forestry ....................................................................................162 5.4.2 Bey and Geographies of Evasiveness ...........................................................................................164 5.5 6. Summary ................................................................................................................................................165

Systematic Land Titling in Buon Village ............................................................................................... 167 6.1 Introduction ...........................................................................................................................................167

6.2 Immanent Development: Lives and Livelihoods in Buon ........................................................................168 6.2.1 Setting the Scene ..........................................................................................................................168 Modern History of Buon .....................................................................................................168 Location ..............................................................................................................................170 Site ......................................................................................................................................171 Population ...........................................................................................................................172 Social Organisation .............................................................................................................172 Credit ..................................................................................................................................174 Village leadership and safety nets for the poorest .............................................................175 6.2.2 How villagers from Buon make a living ........................................................................................176 Overview .............................................................................................................................176 Work in Phnom Penh ..........................................................................................................179 Small Businesses in the Village ...........................................................................................181 Making and Trading String/Rope Tethers ...........................................................................182 Rice Farming .......................................................................................................................183 6.2.3 Conclusions: Immanent Development and Livelihoods in Buon ..................................................186 6.3 The Systematic Land Titling Intervention in Buon ..................................................................................186 6.2.4 Introduction..................................................................................................................................186 6.2.5 Titling in Buon: Inclusion and Exclusion from the Process ...........................................................188 6.2.6 Impact of Titling on Security and Investment ..............................................................................193 6.2.7 Impact of Titling on Access to Credit ............................................................................................195 6.2.8 Impacts on the Land Market ........................................................................................................196 6.2.9 Impacts of Titling on the Social Costs of Land Conflicts ...............................................................199 6.4 Conclusions and Implications .................................................................................................................202 6.4.1 Relation of the Case of Buon to other Research on Titling Impacts in Cambodia ........................202 6.2.10 Buon and Geographies of Evasion ...........................................................................................204 6.5 7. Summary ................................................................................................................................................205

Conclusions and Implications. ............................................................................................................. 209 7.1 7.2 Thesis Aim and Research Questions Revisited .......................................................................................209 Findings: Geographies of Evasion in Property Rights Interventions in Cambodia ..................................210

7.3 Explaining Geographies of Evasion in Property Rights Interventions in Cambodia ...............................213 7.3.1 Development Industry Overreach and Geographies of Evasion ..................................................213 7.3.2 Bigging Up and Dumbing Down: Are Misrepresentation and Simplification Necessary? ............215 7.3.3 Unintended Effects and Space for Creative Agency? ...................................................................217 7.3.4 Implications for Systematic Land Titling .......................................................................................219 7.3.5 Implications for Community Forestry ...........................................................................................221 7.4 7.5 Broader Relevance of this Thesis for the Development Industry ............................................................222 Implications of Geographies of Evasion for Development Industry Policies ..........................................224

7.6 Implications for Research .......................................................................................................................226 7.6.1 A Research Agenda Shaped by Geographies of Evasion ..............................................................226 7.6.2 A Simpler Question (with No Easy Answers) ................................................................................228


Summary ...................................................................................................................................................... 230 References ................................................................................................................................................... 234 Appendices................................................................................................................................................... 249 Appendix 1. List of Interviews Cited .................................................................................................................249 Appendix 2. Village Census Form .....................................................................................................................254 Appendix 3. 25% Livelihood Survey. ................................................................................................................255 Appendix 4. Case Study Households in Bey and Buon: Incomes and Expenditures 2006-7. ............................258 Appendix 5. Question List for Land and Livelihood Survey I (Bey village version) ...........................................259 Appendix 6. Sample Structured Interview Questions: Spring 2008 (Bey version) ............................................262 Appendix 7. Land and livelihood Survey (II) in Bey, October 2008 ...................................................................262 Appendix 8. Survey of Land Transactions in Buon 2009. Summary Data ........................................................263 Appendix 9. LMAP Written Questions and Response, April 2010 ....................................................................267 Meddelanden frn Gteborgs Universitets Geografiska Institutioner, Serie B................................................269


List of Figures


List of Tables
TABLE 2-1: HIERARCHY OF RIGHTS IN COMMON PROPERTY REGIMES ...................................................................51 TABLE 2-2 BUNDLES OF PROPERTY RIGHTS ASSOCIATED WITH DIFFERENT TYPES OF RIGHTS-HOLDER ................51 TABLE 2-3: ANALYTICAL FRAMEWORK AND AGRAWAL'S OBSERVATIONS ON THE LITERATURE ........................... 52 TABLE 3-1: SUMMARY OF VILLAGE RESEARCH METHODS USED IN BEY AND BUON CASE STUDIES 2006-2009 ......67 TABLE 3-2: DATABASE AND MAP ACCESS FOR NATIONAL CASE STUDY. ............................................................... 70 TABLE 5-1: LOCATION OF ADULT RESIDENTS OF BEY, 1-3 AUGUST 2006 ............................................................ 120 TABLE 5-2: MAIN SOURCE OF INCOME REPORTED BY HOUSEHOLD IN BEY VILLAGE, OCTOBER 2008 .................121 TABLE 5-3: CALCULATIONS OF PROFITABILITY FOR A CHAINSAW OWNER-OPERATOR IN BEY 2007....................123 TABLE 5-4: TIMBER INCOMES IN 8 CASE STUDY HOUSEHOLDS, BEY VILLAGE 2006-7 .........................................124 TABLE 5-5: HOUSEHOLDS REPORTING TIMBER AS MAIN INCOME SOURCE IN BEY VILLAGE, CAMBODIA, 2008 ...125 TABLE 5-6: REPORTED AGRICULTURAL LAND HOLDINGS IN BEY VILLAGE, JANUARY 2008. .................................126 TABLE 5-7: CASE STUDY HOUSEHOLDS IN BEY VILLAGE LAND HOLDING AND FARMING, 2007 AND 2008. .........128 TABLE 5-8: DEFORESTATION LIVELIHOOD TRAJECTORY SUGGESTED BY EXPERIENCE IN BEY 1960S 2000S ......135 TABLE 5-9: BETTER LIVES ORGANISATIONS COMMUNITY FORESTRY FUNDING 2004-8 .....................................154 TABLE 6-1: OUTSTANDING DEBTS IN BUON BY TYPE OF CREDITOR (NOVEMBER 2006) ........................................174 TABLE 6-2: REASONS GIVEN FOR INDEBTEDNESS IN BUON (NOVEMBER 2006) ..................................................... 175 TABLE 6-3: MAIN REPORTED SOURCE OF INCOME IN BUON, 2007........................................................................176 TABLE 6-4: BREAKDOWN OF BUON CASE STUDY HOUSEHOLD (HH) INCOMES APRIL 2006-MARCH 2007 ..........177 TABLE 6-5: NUMBER OF BUON HOUSEHOLD (HH) MEMBERS WORKING IN PHNOM PENH IN 2007 ...................... 179 TABLE 6-6: LAND HOLDINGS BY HOUSEHOLD IN BUON JANUARY 2008 (N=64) ...................................................183 TABLE 6-7: REPORTED YIELDS BY HOUSEHOLD IN BUON 2007 GROWING SEASON (N=62) ..................................183 TABLE 6-8: RICE PRODUCTION IN BUON VILLAGE, CAMBODIA. 2006 AND 2008. ..................................................184 TABLE 6-9: LMAP PROJECT DEVELOPMENT OBJECTIVE AND OUTCOME/IMPACT INDICATORS ............................ 187 TABLE 6-10: LMAP SYSTEMATIC LAND TITLING COMPONENT: OUTPUTS AND INDICATORS. .............................. 188 TABLE 6-11: TENURE SECURITY BEFORE AND AFTER TITLING IN BUON - AGGREGATE RESPONSES ..................... 193 TABLE 6-12: TENURE SECURITY AFTER TITLING IN BUON SURVEYED IN OCTOBER 2008 .....................................194 TABLE 6-13: IMPACTS OF TITLING IN BUON SURVEYED IN OCTOBER 2008, RESPONSE BY TYPE ......................... 195 TABLE 7-1: RESEARCH AGENDA SUGGESTED BY THE GEOGRAHIES OF EVASION THESIS ......................................227


List of Acronyms
AC BLDP BLO CBNRM CDRI CF CHRAC COHRE CPP CPR FA HALO HH LA-SSP LIC LICADHO LMAP MLMUPC MOPS NGO NPA NTFP PADEK PRA PRSP RECOFTC UNOHCHR UNTAC USAID Active Communities (pseudonym) Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party Better Lives Organisation (pseudonym) Community Based Natural Resource Management Cambodia Development Resource Institute Community Forestry Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions Cambodian Peoples Party Common Property Rights Forestry Administration Hazardous Areas Life-support Organisation Household Land Administration Sub Sector Support Program Land Information Centre Cambodian League for the Defence of Human Rights Land Management and Administration Project Ministry of Land Management Urban Planning & Constructrion Moving Out of Poverty Study Non-Governmental Organisation Norwegian Peoples Aid Non-Timber Forestry Products Partnership for Development in Kampuchea Participatory Rural Appraisal Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Regional Community Forestry Training Centre United Nations Office for the High Commissioner on Human Rights United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia United State Agency for International Development



1 Introduction
1.1 Failure, Misrepresentation and Rural Development Intervention
"That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history." Aldous Huxley 1.1.1 Rural Development Outcomes: Authors Experiences This thesis is a critical geography of development intervention. It examines the spread and the effects of two property rights interventions, in community forestry and systematic land titling, in rural Cambodia, and draws conclusions with regard to both the operation of the development industry in the early 21st century and the potential of geography to theoretically interrogate it. During the decade before this PhD project began I participated in research studies and evaluations of numerous development projects in rural Cambodia (e.g. Biddulph, 1996, 1998, 2000a, 2000b; 2000d, 2001a, 2003b; Charya et al., 2001). Spending up to forty nights a year in a total of over fifty different rural villages, including stays in all except one of the countrys rural provinces, I only ever encountered one project which I believed had significantly impacted on the lives and livelihoods of the villagers. Even that might be considered to be the exception that proved the rule, as it was the personal development project of the Prime Minister and therefore the only intervention that was not financed by the international development industry1. I had arrived in Cambodia in 1991 having read the work of rural development practices leading academic guru, Robert Chambers (Chambers, 1983)2. I had been convinced by his arguments that an effective development professional needed to be prepared to put the farmer first, or to put the last first. This meant learning the local language in order to be able to listen properly; to spend time with people not just in the dry season when the roads are easy and there is no malaria threat, but all year round; to speak not only with the better-connected, wealthier villagers who live in the centre of the village near the chiefs house, but also those at the social and geographical margins of the village whose voice is not usually heard. All of this I did consistently and repeatedly, but with what result? During my apprenticeship as a development worker in Cambodia I first worked as a volunteer language teacher at the University of Phnom Penh (1991-3) and then as a humanitarian mine-

The Development Industry in this thesis is a collective noun describing all individuals and organizations receiving public or private finance with the purpose of reducing poverty or promoting economic growth in the former Second or Third worlds. It is not a term of opprobrium, but is rather used within a tradition of authors such as Gardner and Lewis (2003) and de Haan (2009) who use it while trying to understand the institutional context for intervention rather than being distracted by the normative aura that the word development can attract when less specifically defined (Rist, 1997).

And subsequently (Chambers, 1997; Chambers & Conway, 1992)

clearance officer with the British non-governmental organisation (NGO) The HALO Trust (1993-96). At that stage I could see some tangible and, at the local and individual scales, somewhat significant, impacts from my work. However, once I entered the development mainstream, where I expected to witness more substantial and widespread change, I instead found impact increasingly difficult to discern. Fourteen years after my first arrival in the country, and despite the very best of intentions, the tangible differences that I could see from my work in the development industry were shelves of reports that I had authored or coauthored and a dramatic increase in my own earning power. My work had (for the most part) been well-received: many of my analyses had been accepted and many of the recommendations I had made had been implemented. Yet, reviewing my working life, there was not a single rural person or rural place that I could confidently say had benefited significantly from my intervention. Neither was this lack of impact confined to my personal contributions. When I looked at the results of the work of the agencies which had contracted me I again saw precious little impact. This did not seem to be a result of personal deficiencies on the part of people working in the development industry. I may have been somewhat exceptional (though not quite unique) in the amount of time I spent staying in villages, but my colleagues in the industry were no Lords of Poverty (Hancock, 1989). They were, overwhelmingly, committed people who were open to learn and receptive to criticism. They were often, furthermore, vastly more experienced, technically qualified and well-read than me. A commitment to combating poverty and injustice, and to improving performance, was apparent not only at individual level but also organisationally. Projects and organisations were managed in ways that incorporated a commitment to reflection, to listening to rural people and their representatives, and to learning from mistakes and improving. Yet in terms of effectiveness, there seemed little prospect of any of the organisations, any of the projects making any significant difference to the livelihoods of the people in the villages3. Partly, of course, this is a question of focus: my experiences were, for example, usually focused on projects broadly aiming at rural development, rather than at those working on specific sectors such as health or education. Some of these interventions improved governance as their priority rather than immediate economic impact. Nevertheless, whatever I was researching or evaluating, the biggest challenge to my limited diplomatic skills was almost always reconciling the rather high expectations of donors and development managers regarding their achievements, with the limited results that I found in the villages. In terms of my own personal trajectory, therefore, this thesis represented an opportunity to take a couple of large steps back from working as a development researcher directly employed by donors, projects or host government managers, and to take a more reflective look at the role and impacts of development interventions. With the benefits of both more time in the field in Cambodia, and more time to survey wider literature on development intervention elsewhere, I hoped that the research would either suggest worthwhile ways in which to reengage with the development industry, or worthwhile alternatives to such an engagement. This chapter introduces the research as an enquiry into the relationship between rural development interventions and the lives and livelihoods of the people they are intended to benefit. Having established my personal motivations for this project, I will demonstrate how experiences of disappointment and failure have also been strongly characteristic of interaction

This is not to suggest that all interventions in rural Cambodia have failed. My own working experience did not involve much contact with, for example, major programmes in the health or education sectors. There were likewise some examples of investments that did make a clear and tangible difference, particularly road improvements, and in some cases well construction.

between academic development studies and development practice. One of the features of academic disappointment is the sense that lessons do not get learned: development interventions do not just fail, but they do so in ways that are entirely predictable. In order to place current debates in a recent historical context I will include in this introduction reviews of three landmark studies of development interventions in the 1990s. These will provide a departure point for discussions throughout the thesis, and will enable a sense of whether the debate between academic development studies and development practice is moving forward from the analyses and conclusions presented 15 years ago, or simply retracing well-worn paths. I will then introduce rural Cambodia and explain its particular value for a study of this sort, and likewise present the cases of property rights interventions in the form of systematic land titling and community forestry and explain why they are particularly representative of current trends in development industry policy and practice. The research aim and research questions at respectively national and local level will then be presented, the potential value of the thesis explained and the thesis structure described. 1.1.2 Impacts of Development Assistance: Academic Literature Literature which discusses both the overall of official development assistance (ODA) tends either to look at the relationship of aid to growth or to attempt to aggregate the results of evaluations of different interventions (Bigsten, Gunning, & Tarp, 2006; Riddell, 2009). Both of these literatures struggle with problems of data and method: in particular they struggle to say anything about cause and effect or to produce meaningful counterfactuals4. Dealing with aid as a single undifferentiated black box concept means that the quantitative literature can only make the broadest statements in relation to the broad questions Does aid work? Does aid help promote growth? Does aid reduce poverty? that it sets itself (Bigsten et al., 2006, pp. 8, 29). With better data that disaggregated types of aid in different situations there might be potential for this literature to make a significant contribution to understandings of development industry performance. However, the current data and methodological problems mean that findings tend to be both uncertain and controversial. Burnside and Dollars (2000) influential finding that aid was only effective in situations were governance was good could not be repeated with larger data sets or over a longer time period (Easterly, Levine, & Roodman, 2004). On the other hand, Hansen and Tarp (2000) reviewing three generations of literature on the macroeconomic impact of aid on growth found that there was a robust and positive relationship between aid and growth, but that this generated little in terms of policy applicability as real-world dilemmas remain unresolved (Hansen & Tarp, 2000, p. 22). Sachs , meanwhile, has concluded that geography rather than institutions determines growth (J. Sachs, 2003) and that aid does work (J. Sachs, 2005). Again, the science has been questioned (Rodrik, Subramainan, & Trebbi, 2002), and the policy implications have been heavily criticised (see Easterly, 2005 for a succinct critique). The literature that looks at development effectiveness attempts to aggregate evaluations of different programmes. This attempt is hampered by the widely different methodologies and standards employed by different agencies and different evaluation teams. When it is most comparable (e.g. when reduced to a single figure by a cost-benefit analysis) it is least informative, whilst even the more rigorous and detailed evaluations tend to evaluate outputs rather than impacts/outcomes (Bigsten et al., 2006, p. 6) and therefore be extremely limited in what they can say about the difference that is made by development interventions.

The counterfactual for aid would be what happened had aid not been provided. The historical and geographical specificity of each situation means that there is no readily available counterfactual for aid.

Large scale, quantitative assessments of the aid industry as a whole are therefore some distance short of achieving their goals of developing a convincing overview and explanation of the effectiveness or otherwise of aid. Academic insights into the effectiveness and the effects of development intervention therefore remain heavily dependent on contextualised case study work. It is this body of literature, whose conclusions have been far more sobering, to which we turn now and to which this thesis seeks to contribute. Some researchers have carried out contextualised case studies and analyses of particular successful development interventions (Bebbington & McCourt, 2007; Korten, 1982; Uphoff, Esman, & Krishna, 1998). However, as those authors would acknowledge, these cases were exceptions. Amongst scholars who pay attention to specific contexts and study the places and people intended to benefit from development interventions the overwhelming sense is that failure is the norm. Canadian geographer Jonathan Crush, introducing his landmark anthology, The Power of Development, stated that As most of us are aware, development rarely seems to work or at least with the consequences intended or the outcomes predicted (Crush, 1995, p. 4). Porter et al.(1991) began their case study of the Australian intervention in Magarini in eastern Kenya with an anecdote from an Australian government enquiry into development assistance, as a board of enquiry member questioned a development worker:
When you go home and talk to your wife about what you think you do, what do you say you are doing? Without hesitation, he replied, We talk about our disillusionment. Seriously, that is what we talk about. We talk about whether we are throwing our lives away in a futile exercise. (Porter et al., 1991, p. 1).

And having charted the failure of Magarini (a project that had not only failed but had resulted in a worsening in the conditions of the supposed beneficiaries) they suggested that this was symptomatic of an industry-wide tendency:
Try buying a beer for the next hard-bitten professional practitioner you meet, and settle back to listen to the woes of Magarini echoing from all corners of the Third World (Porter et al., 1991, p. 201).

Ferguson in his case study of the Thaba-Tseka project in Lesotho reported not only that all observers of the development industry in Lesotho had found unremitting failure there, but that this was symptomatic of the situation with interventions throughout the African continent: By any criteria, successful projects have been the exception rather than the rule (G. Williams, 1981, p. 17 cited in Ferguson 1990, p. 9). In more recent times, Mosse and Lewis (2006, p. 8), introduced their edited ethnography of aid agencies by drawing attention to the striking incongruence between the pragmatism, moral authority and technical confidence of development documents and the striking lack of progress of interventions in relation to development indicators. Of particular relevance to this thesis and its study of the case of community forestry was Blaikies critique of Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM), which he argued was characterised by failure to provide the benefits to local people but success as a policy which continued to be adopted widely (Blaikie, 2006, p. 1952). The apparent paradox of development interventions persistently failing while the development industry thrives has been a major theme in studies of development practice.

1.2 Was it Ever Thus? Misrepresentation and Failure 25 years ago

Part of my interest is in the ways and the extent to which the development industry is able to learn from experience. Crush, again, was pessimistic as he wrote: 4

Development discourse has a remarkable capacity for forgiving its own mistakes and reinventing itself as the remedy for the ills it causes (Crush, 1995, p. 16).

The Anti-Politics Machine by James Ferguson (1994) was in many ways the academic departure point for this thesis: when I first read it in the late 1990s it seemed to me to have authoritatively identified systematic problems within the development industry, especially regarding the way in which it misrepresents the context in which it operates. I was interested to see whether what I saw as the lessons from that work, which remains a standard reference point for leading scholars in the field of development intervention (e.g.Corbridge, 2007; Li, 2007), had influenced the industry. Fergusons analysis was not, however, the only available case study of development intervention in the 1990s: its analysis emphasised processes which occurred behind the backs of actors meaning that interests and agency were in some respects under-analysed. In order to capture key analyses from the time I complement the consideration of The Anti-Politics Machine with that of two other studies: a book-length case study which emphasises the agency and interests of development practitioners (Porter et al., 1991) and a book chapter emphasising international interests and how they are concealed within (or rather without) development industry discourse (T. Mitchell, 1995). 1.2.1 The Anti-Politics Machine: the Thaba-Tseka Project Fergusons (1994) study of a World Bank/Canada project in Lesotho, which was described by contemporary critic Gran Hydn (1995) as a mirror in which all development analysts past, present and prospective should view themselves better to understand what they are all about, and is currently one of the most frequently cited case studies of development intervention5. James Ferguson, heavily influenced by Foucaults (1979) Discipline and Punish, and his general archaeological/genealogical approach to discourse, framings and critique of action, examined the implementation of what was fundamentally an agricultural improvement project with a central focus on ranching, but which also had strong infrastructure development components and incorporated a phase of supporting decentralisation reforms. This was a project of Canadian assistance to the government of Lesotho, with a project memorandum signed in May 1975. The project ran until its premature closure in 1984, though as early as 1979 it was acknowledged that it had had no impact on agricultural production and was beginning to be regarded as a failure and a costly mistake (Ferguson, 1994, p. 251). The departure point for Fergusons study was the contrast between the way in which Lesotho was represented in academic and development discourses. As an example of development literature about Lesotho, he cited the World Banks 1975 country report which described Lesotho at independence in 1966 thus:
In spite of the fact that Lesotho is an enclave within highly industrialized South Africa and belongs with that country, Botswana, and Swaziland to the rand monetary area and the Southern African Customs Union, it was then virtually untouched by modern economic development. It was and still is, basically, a traditional subsistence peasant society. But rapid population growth resulting in extreme pressure on the land, deteriorating soil, and declining agricultural yields led to a situation in which the country was no longer able to produce enough food for its people. Many able-bodied men were forced from the land in search of

I myself read James Fergusons Anti-Politics Machine after I returned to Cambodia in 1997, so it influenced my view of development practice during my latter years there. Of the other two texts foregrounded here, Americas Egypyt I have read more recently whilst Paved with Good Intentions was the only text that I read during my Masters research in 1996.

means to support their families, but the only employment opportunities were in neighboring South Africa. At present, an estimated 60 per cent of the male labor force is away as migrant workers in South Africa (Ferguson, 1994, p. 25).

This, Ferguson demonstrated, was not only false, but would have been recognised as false by anyone with even a passing knowledge of Lesotho. The suggestion that Lesothos population was essentially economically isolated and agricultural and had only recently (At present) resorted to labour migration in response to population pressure and deteriorating soils was refuted by reference to the 1910 Encyclopaedia Britannica entry for the country which showed that already at the beginning of the twentieth century, Basutoland (as it was then called) had been a producer of cash crops for the South African market rather than a traditional peasant society, and that already, at that time of agricultural surplus, it supplied roughly the same proportion of its population as migrant labourers to the South African economy as it did in 1975. With a cash economy, a domestic market for Western commodities, plough agriculture, a capital city and a modern central administration and infrastructure (roads, schools, airport, hospitals, churches), Ferguson showed that:
Lesotho was not untouched by modern economic development but radically and completely transformed by it, and this not in 1966 or 1975 but in 1910 (Ferguson, 1994, p. 27).

The result of this determination to characterize the population of Lesotho as essentially isolated and agricultural is seen in the nature of the intervention that followed. A project was designed which would strengthen the livelihoods of the people by linking them to market and improving first and foremost their livestock farming, and secondarily their crop production. Labour migration was treated as a temporary aberrance rather than a permanent feature, and effectively ignored. The centrepiece of the Thaba-Tseka project was an attempt to improve livestock production. Increased sales of cattle were interpreted as an indicator of successful agricultural production. However, the local economy was driven by remitted incomes from migrant labour in South Africa. Young men worked there from early adulthood until their bodies could take no more, at which point they returned to their households. Cattle served as a form of savings, insurance and pension, and incidentally as a demonstrator of economic, and thence social status. They enabled the smoothing of incomes between the times when a household had one or more young adults earning well and those times when it did not have such earnings. In this situation, of course, the last thing that a household wishes to do is sell its cattle 6. Selling cattle indicated that households were enduring economic difficulties, not that they were successful and productive: so where the project saw success in terms of increased ranching productivity, it was actually witnessing immiseration (Ferguson, 1994, p. 182). By the time of its closure in 1984 the Thaba-Tseka project was regarded as a failure in terms of its own objectives. Infrastructure had been constructed, but agricultural improvement and livelihood improvement had proved beyond it. For Ferguson, however, whilst intended objectives had not been achieved, he saw unintended objectives which were at work behind the backs of the actors involved. This was effectively an application of the thinking in Foucaults Discipline and Punish to development discourse; for prison and crime we might read development and poverty:

As Ferguson makes clear, the characterisation of a household here is problematic. Decisions about sale of cattle were also questions about control of incomes from South Africa and often divided households on gender lines, with men reluctant to sell and women much more open to the idea. Thus the bovine mystique of a supposed cultural attachment to cattle, far from being traditional was actually embedded in contemporary struggles within the household of redistribution of incomes from migrant labour.

For the observation that the prison fails to eliminate crime, one should perhaps substitute the hypothesis that prison has succeeded extremely well in producing delinquency, a specific type, a politically or economically less dangerous and on occasion, usable, form of illegality; in producing delinquents, in an apparently marginal, but in fact centrally supervised milieu; in producing the delinquent as a pathologized subject (Foucault, 1979, p. 277).

And especially:
So successful has the prison been that, after a century and a half of failures, the prison still exists, producing the same results, and there is the greatest reluctance to dispense with it (Foucault, 1979, p. 277).

In other words, Fergusons argument was that even as development projects failed in their own terms, they did succeed in achieving certain results. In particular, he argued that the consequence of attempts to develop was that issues that were deeply political became depoliticised, and at the same time, that the reach of the bureaucratic state increased. Following Foucault, Ferguson interpreted this as the work of a subjectless discourse; one that had its own regularities and purposes which occurred independent of the interests and intentions of any particular actor. Like Foucault, he concluded that the extension of bureaucratic state power (Ferguson, 1994, p. 255), despite serving certain interests was not being deliberately driven or steered by them. Whilst such an analysis seems to imply that development and its consequences are somehow structurally determined independently of the interests of those who benefit from them, Fergusons presentation of the discourse highlighted the way in which the discourse was shaped by the needs of the development industry. His argument was that the industry represented Lesotho in a certain way because it needed to portray it as susceptible to intervention. He pointed to four particular requirements: that Lesotho needed to be presented as aboriginal/isolated, as agricultural, as a national economy and as governable (Ferguson, 1994, pp. 71-72). He argued that the misrepresentation of the context of Lesotho was a direct consequence of the requirements of development discourse:
For an analysis to meet the needs of development institutions it must do what academic discourse inevitably fails to do; it must make Lesotho out to be an enormously promising candidate for the only sort of intervention a development agency is capable of launching: the apolitical, technical development intervention (1994, p. 67).

There is therefore a duality to Fergusons analysis. On the one hand he suggested that there was an impersonal, subjectless force at work, but on the other hand he suggested that the discourse was shaped by the distorting needs of the development industry and its employees. This paradox directs our attention towards the other two contemporary case studies. Porter et al. (1991) were strong where Ferguson was weak, namely on analysing the actual motives and behaviours of the development practitioners, whilst Mitchell (1995) examined a case (the United States in Egypt) where geopolitical economic and security interests of the development partner were engaged, which was hardly the case for Canada in Lesotho. Ferguson suggested that the Lesotho case provided a particularly vivid example of how distorting development discourse could be on the grounds that it was exceptional in the degree to which it differed from the characterisation that the industry needed. It was not isolated or agricultural, and its economic life was determined from beyond its borders. However, he suggested that the schism between academic discourse and development discourse would be present in all less developed countries. As we will see, the other two studies tended to support that argument. 7

1.2.2 Paved with Good Intentions: The Magarini Project Development in Practice: Paved with Good Intentions by Doug Porter, Bryant Allen and Gaye Thompson was, as one contemporary review (Gasper, 1994, p. 908) put it, a still too rare genre, a detailed case-study of planning and implementation that is informed by handson experience and yet constantly refers to wider theory, comparing theory and case.7 The book was a case study of an Australian project at Magarini in Coast province, Kenya. The project intended to settle about 4,000 households onto 12-hectare plots (Kanyinga, 2000, p. 72), and to provide them with: land titles; groundwater; agricultural extension, marketing and credit services; soil conservation technical assistance and infrastructure; transport infrastructure. However, this was another case where the agricultural improvement visions of the designers did not come close to being realised in practice: water supplies were not identified, land was not cleared at anticipated rates, issue of agricultural plots and land titles was a fraction of that anticipated. Implementation began in 1978, but by 1982 the Australian donor was reporting that the project would not succeed. Ultimately, an NGO community development project in the area was deployed as (amongst other things) a means by which the donor could discreetly withdraw with dignity. The misrepresentation of the context of the Magarini Settlement Project was essentially an erasure of context. A people without a past were to be settled onto an area of empty land (Porter et al., 1991, pp. 43-45)8. On this geographical and historical equivalent of a blank sheet of paper was sketched a characterisation of the beneficiary Giriama people as landless, squatters, poor and illiterate and a national environmental risk. They were furthermore held to constitute a squatter problem in a strip of land near the coast where their presence was contributing to tenure insecurity which was said to be constraining incentives to farm and also ability to use land as collateral. The project would therefore move them from the coastal strip to the empty land, and having thus placed them, would develop them. With more local historical awareness the project designers would have understood that the Giriama already considered themselves, with some justification, the owners of the empty land, and furthermore that many of them had chosen to locate away from it because of its inability to support them. In return for being allocated plots on this land that they already considered theirs the Giriama were required to pay a fee equivalent to two years of income. The authors suggested that rather than bringing order to chaos, the project was doing the reverse:
Through the mechanism of compensation they were relieved of their rights of occupation and for all intents and purposes, became squatters. The project fostered the antithesis of its primary aims of settlement, and contributed in no small measure to peoples overall uncertainty about their future (Porter et al., 1991, p. 176).

Without conducting any substantial study of the strengths and limitations of existing agricultural practice, and ignorant of the failures of agricultural interventions during colonial times, the project introduced a completely new system of sedentary farming. The books narrative makes it clear how unlikely any of the components was to succeed. However, only by all of them succeeding to produce a hugely improved agricultural system would the Giriama households have stood a chance of repaying their debts:

7 8

The genre remains rare, (see also Li, 2007; Mosse, 2005 discussed in Chapter 3). There is painful irony in an Australian project seeking to rebuild relationships with the non-white world, beginning with a characterisation of an area as terra nullius.

(T)he activities promoted by the project were not sustainable in economic or environmental terms. The high-cost water supply system, for example, was beyond the financial and technical resources available to either the Kenyan government or the community to operate and maintain. Moreover, simply to maintain agricultural productivity, the broader strategy of sedentary farming demanded a guarantee of water that was not available, labour that was in short supply, and agricultural inputs that were beyond most farmers financial means (Porter et al., 1991, p. 4).

The authors explained how the Giriami project represented a meeting of diverse actors with often conflicting interests. At government level, Australian interest was in demonstrating its prowess and also its good will in order ultimately to improve (trading) relations with nonwhite countries. The Kenyan government representatives were chiefly interested in a settlement project which would include opportunities for politicians to reward their local clients, who were overwhelmingly Kikuyu9. The local Giriami people were interested in preserving their links with the land and also their cultural identity (Porter et al., 1991, p. 142). Regarding the project they were interested in the 400 casual jobs which the project provided, but these were gradually allocated away from them and to Kikuyu people instead (Porter et al., 1991, pp. 178-179). The authors were scathing about the way in which the project documents managed to suggest, in the face of the facts, that all actors had shared interests and objectives:
Available information about Magarini does not suggest a single credible or coherent picture of the problems that would yield common objectives. A seething mass of contending perceptions, divergent personal and institutional strategies, and polarized interests, yes. But a common medium- to long-term statement of objectives of targets that could make sense outside the confines of a project document, no (Porter et al., 1991, pp. 197-198).

Partly in response to the fact that the Giriama were being shafted by the government (Porter et al., 1991, p. 136) an NGO project was introduced by the Australians in order to strengthen their hand. However, notwithstanding the attempts of the NGO to find room for manoeuvre between the various actors, the authors conclusion was that when it came to a matter of facilitating and supporting the Giriama in a struggle where their interests were directly challenging those of the government, the NGO did not succeed and indeed could not have succeeded (Porter et al., 1991, p. 184). At every stage, before and during implementation, there were conflicts of interest between the government partners and the Giriama beneficiaries. And at every stage, the development industry actors, with more or less awareness of what they were doing, concealed these differences in order to be allowed to operate. Furthermore, to the extent that they were prepared to support the local poor in conflicts with the nationally powerful, those attempts were futile. Why, in the view of Porter et al. did the development industry misrepresent its context? What was the source of the reluctance of development practitioners to appreciate the significance of history? The principle explanation provided by the book was control orientation within development practice. By control orientation they meant the attempt to envisage a project intervention as a system, where inputs can be turned into outputs by controlling and understanding all of the variables in the process. This type of planning, they argued, was appropriate in certain branches of engineering: it enabled men to be put on the moon.

In the course of the project allegations were made in the national parliament that senior politicians had forwarded to project staff a list of 53 people, not local Giriama, who were to be allocated good land on the settlement area.(Kanyinga, 2000, p. 72).

However, the social contexts into which development projects were inserted are simply too complex and variable to control:
Our conclusions are that in this period development practice has become increasingly controloriented in a futile effort to reduce the level of uncertainty which accompanies any rural development intervention. Futile because increased control-orientation leads inevitably to a denial of reality and greater not less uncertainty (Porter et al., 1991, p. 212).

Other themes familiar from Fergusons account of Lesotho weave through the book, not least the blindness of the development industry to non-agricultural livelihoods illustrated by a project staff member ironically introducing the researchers to my best farmer a project settler who was also a barman in the local town (Porter et al., 1991, p. 69). Likewise the completely unrealistic assumptions required to make the idea of agricultural development on this land plausible, which the authors found beyond our comprehension (1991, p. 110). A final postscript from the Magarini project relates to its spatial travels10. The authors note that the failure in Kenya would have been rendered much less surprising if one had tracked back to Australian experiences of dryland farming improvement interventions in its own territory, which had also been characterised by failure (1991, p. 84). They also highlighted was the gatekeeper role played by the Kenyan government. Other proposals had preceded the settlement project idea. An earlier Australian mission had suggested a small-scale pilot to trial catchment communities whereby people farming a catchment would be given assistance to build and maintain soil and water conservation structures that they themselves participated in the design of.
Before Kenyan government comments on this report had been received in Canberra, the Nairobi AHC informed AIDAB that this approach would not be acceptable to the Kenyan government, because it would jeopardise the way in which many Kenyan public servants and politicians held pieces of land around the country but did not farm them, or farm them properly. The local community, under these recommendations would be able to insist that this land was properly farmed and protected. The AHC predicted the report would be rejected ... These predictions proved correct (Porter et al., 1991, pp. 34-35).

In that particular case, a blanket approach which would have enabled local farmers to develop entitlements that challenged elite interests across the country was barred from entry to Kenyan territory. On the other hand, a settlement project which legitimised removal of Giriami from coastal land and enabled encroachment on Giriami land by settlers from the dominant Kikuyu clan was ushered in. This diversion, of development intervention away from places where it might challenge elite interests will be one theme of this dissertation, likewise the dilution of attempts to create entitlements. 1.2.3 The Object of Development: Americas Egypt The Object of Development: Americas Egypt by Timothy Mitchell (1995) is an essay focused on how international development agencies described Egypt. He quotes from a USAID report typifying almost any study of Egypt produced by an American or international development agency as follows:
Egypt depends upon the fruits of the narrow ribbon of cultivated land adjacent to the Nile and that rivers rich fan-shaped delta. For more than 5,000 years agriculture has sustained Egypt. During the first half of this century, however.The growth of agriculture failed to keep up


In contrast to Ferguson and Mitchell, the authors of the other two studies reviewed here, two of the Magarini authors, Porter and Bryant, were geographers.


with the needs of a population which doubled, then nearly tripled. It is a matter of simple arithmetic (Johnson et al. 1983, p1 cited in Mitchell 1995, p. 130).

Mitchell emphasised the visual simplicity of the image, spread out like a map before the readers eye, combines with the arithmetical certainty of population figures, surface areas and growth rates to lay down the logic of the analysis to follow. However, the simple arithmetic that the stylised geography suggested was in fact wrong. Mitchell demonstrated that while Egypts agricultural population was very dense in relation to other countries (about the same as Bangladesh and about double Indonesia), its agriculture was far more productive. Not only that, but agricultural production had, in fact, been increasing more rapidly than population growth. By looking into the discrepancy between relatively high food production and relatively low nutrition levels, Mitchell was further able to show that the key issue was not population increase, but unequal distribution of income within the population. A wealthy segment of the population upper and middle urban classes and foreign residents and tourists ate large amounts of meat and animal products compared with the rural population. The consequence of this demand was the reorientation of domestic cash crop agriculture towards the more lucrative market of animal fodder. This in turn led to a severe deficit in cereals for human consumption with Egypt rapidly becoming the worlds third largest importer (after Japan and China) of grain. That demand was partly met by subsidised American wheat provided by the United States Agency for International Development to help the poor, overlooking the fact that the deficit here was not caused by low productivity, but by the preference of the wealthy for meat. Mitchell applied the same logic to the question of land holdings. He argued that if Egypt had adopted the same land reform measures as South Korea and Taiwan in the 1950s, every household in the country would have had the means to produce enough to feed itself. Political issues highlighted by Mitchell inequalities of income and asset distribution were absent from the development discourse. He saw representation as key in this:
Thanks to the powerful image of millions of Egyptian peasants squeezed into a narrow river valley, it seems natural to assume that land holdings are already smaller than is practicable and that other sorts of solutions are required (T. Mitchell, 1995, pp. 138-139).

In this context, the question of whether fifty million people in the Nile Delta constituted overpopulation or not became far more contentious11. And this was Mitchells point: development discourse operates in such a way as to frame all problems as having natural rather than political or social causes. This framing thus suggests that interventions should be technical or managerial, rather than political attempts to challenge existing power relations and interests. It is the discussion of interests that principally distinguishes Mitchells study from Fergusons. Mitchell argued that a proper analysis of American aid to Egypt would set it in the context of international relationships, and here he looked specifically at the broader range of relationships between the US and Egypt, and at US interests within those relationships. This meant, not least, acknowledging the importance of the military in the Egyptian economy and the fact that half of US assistance to Egypt was military aid, most of which Egypt then spent purchasing US military equipment (T. Mitchell, 1995, p. 155). This military assistance was not recorded in development documents. For Mitchell, these development industry representations did not constitute proper analysis. A proper analysis of Egypt as an object

Mitchell recalls Susan Georges warning that when you hear the word overpopulation you should reach, if not for your revolver, at least for your calculator.


of development would have included an analysis of the economy and power of the Egyptian military, its relations to US military and to the systems of US state subsidies for its military industries. Likewise, an analysis of the Egyptian agricultural system would have included setting the shift to meat production and the consequent food shortages and national indebtedness in the context of the crisis in US farming and the deployment of subsidized food exports as a remedy to that problem (T. Mitchell, 1995, p. 156). He concluded by relocating the stylised geographical image of overcrowded Egypt within his own argument:
Development discourse wishes to present itself as a detached centre of rationality and intelligence. The relationship between West and non-West will be constructed in these terms. The West possesses the expertise, technology and management skills that the non-West is lacking. This lack is what has caused the problems of the non-West. Questions of power and inequality, whether on the global level of international grain markets, state subsidies and the arms trade, or the more local level of landholding, food supplies and income distribution, will nowhere be discussed. To remain silent on such questions, in which its own existence is involved, development discourse needs an object that appears to stand outside itself. What more natural object could there be, for such a purpose, than the image of a narrow river valley, hemmed in by the desert, crowded with rapidly multiplying millions of inhabitants?

1.2.4 Reflections on the 1990s Studies The common ground between these three studies is the systematic misrepresentation by the development industry of the rural context in which it sought to operate. In each case the rural was (mis)represented as: Essentially agricultural (usually a form of subsistence agriculture disconnected from wider cash economies); Isolated, traditional, primitive; Removed from local, national and international politics and conflicts of interest. One clear, implicit question for the current research, then, is whether early twenty-first century rural development interventions have continued these trends, or whether the industry has learned to represent rural contexts without repeating the caricatures of the 1990s? Idealised (mis)representations of the rural have a long tradition in literature and philosophy. There is a sense of this untouched, unsullied world in the 1990s misrepresentations, although the explanations provided by the respective authors are distinctly less romantic. Porter et al. in their study keep the characters and motivations of the development practitioners in focus. Here one has the sense that there is a degree of cynicism at play: that experienced fixers and brokers, who knew what was required in order to sell a development project and keep the funds flowing, deployed the misrepresentations at key strategic moments so that highly conflicted, near-impossible situations were described as amenable to intervention. To this end, the underplaying of manifest physical difficulties, ignoring the relations between Gikuya and Giriami and the production of cost-benefit analyses with extremely optimistic internal rates of return, were all key in enabling the Australians to embark on a project whose only realistic prospect was failure. Whilst Porter et al. framed their explanations in terms of the interests of the actors concerned: Kenyan conflicts that were not amenable to outside intervention, and Australian interests in making the project happen regardless, Ferguson and Mitchell, by contrast, laid more stress on discursive explanations. Both of them stressed the way in which politics was systematically screened out of representations of the rural context. Mitchell laid more weight on geopolitical interests. While not actually making the case that American interests deliberately shaped the discourse, he drew attention to the way in which it served those interests for military relations, 12

class differences, international trade and agricultural subsidies to be absent from development discussions. For Ferguson the self-interested needs of the development industry to represent reality as de-politicised such that its interventions (framed as non-political) can be of relevance is part of a larger unconscious unfolding of a process which extends the reach of the bureaucratic State. He is quite explicit in suggesting that the processes at work are not directly driven by the self-interest of actors whose interests are engaged, but rather that these processes work themselves out behind the backs of the actors. We thus have a repertoire of explanations for misrepresentation relating development practitioner techniques and interests, to geopolitical interests, to anti-politics and bureaucratisation. If the misrepresentation of the rural endures in twenty-first century practice these competing explanations can be revisited and sources of resistance to learning or change may be sought. The three cases do not provide any direct links regarding the relationship between the failure of intervention and the misrepresentation of context. While the misrepresentation appears to be central to the failure of the two interventions in question, there is no easy counterfactual which suggests that if reality could be truthfully represented interventions would then succeed12. On the contrary, a reading of the case studies suggests that better representations of the situations in Thaba-Tseka and Magarini would have resulted in the projects not being started rather than in them being completed successfully in anything resembling the form they actually took. While truth may be the holy grail of the academic world, there may of course be good strategic reasons in the world of development intervention to deploy partial truths and untruths in order to achieve objectives. To conclude, these rural development interventions failed strikingly, and they also misrepresented context strikingly. However, while the misrepresentation of context contributed to the setting of unrealistic objectives, it did not provide a conclusive explanation of failure.

1.3 Introducing the Case: Property Rights Interventions in Cambodia

This thesis is broadly concerned with the relationship between development interventions and the lives and livelihoods of the people who are intended to benefit from them. It takes as its departure points on the one hand my personal experiences of development interventions failing to make a substantial difference in rural Cambodia, and on the other hand the trio of academic studies of development practice and discourse in the 1990s which, taken together, constituted a powerful argument for the importance of the relationship between development failure and systematic mis-representation of context. In the light of these departure points, the broader research interest can be expressed as an inquiry into whether rural development interventions in the early twenty-first century fail, and if so, whether they fail in the same ways and for the same reasons as interventions in the 1970s and 1980s. With regard to the context which contemporary projects describe, do they (contra Thaba-Tseka, Magarini and Americas Egypt) recognise that rural peoples livelihoods are: diverse and multiplyintegrated into wider economies and ecologies; partly conditioned by a dynamic history which includes centuries of engagement with wider (global) economies; characterised by mobility


The recommendations provided by the authors suggest that no such easy counterfactual is available. Mitchells implicit call for proper analysis is not a recommendation for practitioners. Porter et al. recommend a less control oriented practice that is more flexible and attuned to local circumstances, but warn that even with best practice that problems embedded in conflicts of interest will not be readily amenable to outside intervention. Ferguson recommended that practitioners engage politically, but his practitioners were academics rather than development industry practitioners and he anticipated any difference made being made outside the realms of the industry.


and uncertainty; embedded in (more or less explicit) political struggles where their interests are often in conflict with those of the State? Bringing the question up to date also involves acknowledging that rural development interventions in the early twenty-first century are set in a quite different policy context. Whether or not development practice has developed, it has certainly changed. The earlier studies I have referenced were focused on development interventions that exemplified approaches in the 1970s and 1980s mostly large area-based integrated rural development projects. During the two decades between the closure of Thaba-Tseka and Magarini and the commencement of work on this thesis in 2005 the pendulum of development policy had swung dramatically both ways (see Chapter 2). Approaches intending to address basic needs through State supported interventions were eschewed in favour of rolling back the State in a process of structural adjustment intended to let markets do the work of development unfettered by State interference. This turn to market, however, was superseded by an institutional turn, which held that the State did have a key role in ensuring that the institutions required for markets to do their work were in place (Fukuyama, 2004). The mainstream in development policy during the 1990s was dominated by the so-called Washington Consensus, within which legal property rights stood as the tenth of the ten points, formulated as follows: The legal system should provide secure property rights without excessive costs, and make these available to the informal sector, and were regarded by Williamson (1993, p. 1333) as uncontroversial compared with some of the other points in the consensus. The harsher structural adjustment policies of downsized government, deregulation, privatisation and liberation of trade attracted widespread criticism and failed to demonstrate economic success (Jomo, 2005), and were succeeded in the mainstream by a poverty reduction emphasis which arguably amounted to superficial rather than substantive change (Craig & Porter, 2006; Porter & Craig, 2004). The project of getting the institutions right survived the Washington consensus, and property rights continued to be key. According to Chang (2006, p. 5) In the orthodox literature on institutions and development, property rights are accorded the most important role. In this respect, then, to focus on property rights interventions is to focus on a central and characteristic feature of the dominant thinking in development policy in the last decade of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first. The focus on systematic land titling and community forestry in this thesis enables consideration of examples of the two major types of property right intervention: supporting, on the one hand, individualised property rights as land-titling emphasises the individual as an economic actor and supports their integration into the formal economy as small capitalists, prepared to borrow against and/or trade their assets. On the other hand are common property rights, as community forestry, emphasises community as a source of local regulation and moral values in the spaces evacuated by the rolled back state13. Systematic land titling in Cambodia is a government programme that has received financial and technical support from the World Bank, the governments of Finland and Germany, and latterly the government of Canada. It is anticipated that registering all land property in Cambodia will involve issuing title to twelve million parcels of land. The project began in 2004 and by 2009 over a million titles had been issued. Community forestry by contrast, has constituted a diverse collection of projects and initiatives initially supported by international donors and NGOs in Cambodia. By the time the government began to recognise the concept of community forestry in the 2002 Forestry Law, and then to pass a Community Forestry sub-decree in 2003, there were already

The process by which I arrived at property rights interventions in general and systematic land titling and community forestry in particular will be described and explained in Chapter 3.


over 200 community forestry projects in existence. By the completion of field work for this project in early 2009, 18 of those projects had received recognition from the government and had been authorised to proceed with a management plan. The choice of Cambodia as a case study country rests first and foremost on my comparative advantage in conducting research there, having lived there for ten years, and carried out two or three research and evaluation consultancies per year there during the years from 2001, when I left, and 2005 when I began the employment for this research. Cambodia presents a particularly interesting case for students of development intervention. Prior to the fall of the Berlin wall, most interventions in Cambodia had been motivated by geopolitical security interests. This included the political isolation of the country during the 1980s, during which time the United Nations continued to recognise the Khmer Rouge - responsible for the (auto-) genocide of the 1975-9 period as the rightful representatives of the Cambodian government. The collapse of communism set in motion a process whereby elections were held and the international actors who had been supporting an insurgency against the Cambodian government could now redefine their role of one supporting development and democracy in the country. This process was routinely described as a peace process, although the withdrawal of the Khmer Rouge from the elections meant that the United Nations intervention during 1992-4 did not produce peace, but that rather guerrilla warfare continued until the ruling elite in the Cambodian government finally completed deals with all of the remaining Khmer Rouge leadership such that they defected and allied themselves to the government. The years of international isolation, meanwhile, meant that Cambodia had avoided the worse consequences of debt and the ravages of structural adjustment which many of the worlds other poorest countries had undergone in their encounters with the development industry. This meant that in some respects when Cambodia emerged as a host for development intervention in the early 1990s the development industry arrived with a relatively clean slate. In another respect, however, the development industry slate was far from clean. The first international intervention was the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC). Expensive, time-bound and with objectives that involved nothing less than taking temporary control of the country, it proved itself capable only of completing tasks which did not involve confronting elite power. The general population was educated in the principles and practice of electoral democracy, the refugees were returned from the Thai border. However, UNTAC was powerless first to either discipline the Khmer Rouge when they withdrew from the elections, and second to ensure that the winners of the election could form a government. The beginning of full-scale development assistance in Cambodia was therefore marked by this huge parable which showed that whilst the high-spending international actors made much noise in the public space, they could safely be waited out or ignored whilst the real political decisions and negotiations occurred elsewhere (see Chapter 4 below).

1.4 Thesis Aim and Research Questions

As explained above, the broad area of interest for this study is the relationship between development interventions and the livelihoods of poor people. Among the understandings that inform the enquiry are a documented tendency for the development industry to systematically misrepresent rural areas, and scepticism regarding the capacity of the industry to effectively learn from experience. This interest and these understandings are applied to the case of property rights interventions in Cambodia, yielding the following aim: To describe and explain the relationship between property rights interventions and the livelihoods of the rural poor in Cambodia. 15

The property rights interventions selected were community forestry and systematic land titling (see Chapter 3). Broadly, the approach to studying intervention has been to begin with rural livelihoods, to set those livelihoods in the context of political economy, and finally to investigate the impacts of implementation on livelihoods in the context of the political economy. This three-step process was applied at both village and national scales. The advantage of village level research was that it enabled a detailed, contextualised analysis of real peoples livelihoods. The advantage of national level research was that it enabled broader trends to emerge, not least in terms of the geographical distribution of phenomena. The relative advantages of the different scales for the research meant that the process led to slightly different research questions for the respective scales: Local Cases: 1. How do people in the village earn a living? 2. What factors constrain and enable villagers livelihoods, and what is the importance of tenure security/insecurity in those livelihoods? 3. To what extent do tenure security interventions make a difference to rural tenure security/insecurity and rural livelihoods? Why/why not? National Case: 1. Where in rural Cambodia is tenure insecurity a problem? Why? 2. Where in Cambodia have tenure rights interventions been implemented? Why? 3. What is the relationship between the geography of tenure insecurity and the geography of tenure security intervention? A pair of analytical questions then connect these findings back to respectively the thesis aim and the broader research interest: 1. What do these local and national cases contribute to understandings of the relationship between rural livelihoods and property rights interventions in Cambodia in the 2000s? 2. What does the case of property rights interventions in Cambodia in the 2000s contribute to understandings of development industry interventions in rural areas of the global South?

1.5 Other Contributions of the Thesis

This introduction has explained the ambition of the thesis to contribute to the general literature on development studies and development practice, as well as the specific literature on property rights interventions. Complementary to these contributions the thesis will also contribute to literatures on Southeast Asian rural development, development geography and livelihoods. Within Southeast Asia studies Cambodia often remains as a geographical gap. Anthologies frequently include chapters on all countries except Cambodia, and authors such as Rigg (e.g. 1997, 2001) who rely predominantly on detailed local case studies to build up a picture of trends within the region, generally do so without the benefit of studies from Cambodia. The only sustained studies of livelihoods in rural Cambodia have been based on fieldwork carried out in the early 1960s (Ebihara, 1968)14. Recent detailed case study work has either focused on cultural issues (Zucker, 2007) or has been written up in ways that obscure rather than

New and forthcoming work by Katherine Brickell (e.g. 2008) may also contribute to understandings of livelihoods in rural Cambodia, see http://www.gg.rhul.ac.uk/Brickell/publications.html


highlight the specifics of place. This particularly applies to the study Moving out of Poverty? (Fitzgerald & Sovannarith, 2007) conducted at the Cambodian policy research institute CDRI as part of a multi-country World Bank research project under the leadership of Deepa Narayan15. The two village studies presented here will therefore contribute to filling that gap. This thesis by applying an explicitly spatial analysis to development industry interventions also makes a contribution to development geography as a sub-discipline. Currently, development geographers are often prominent in development studies or, increasingly, in political ecology. On the other hand, it is rare to find that something explicitly identified or identifiable as development geography is being practiced. Building on work by Bebbington (2001, 2003, 2004) this thesis will show that an opportunity is being missed. A critical geography of development intervention geography can be a corrective to analyses which, by avoiding crucial questions about where activities do and do not happen, facilitate depoliticised framings of obviously political questions. Finally, livelihoods have been a prominent object of enquiry within development studies over the past couple of decades. This has often been as part of an attempt to ensure that the situations of the poor are adequately apprehended in development analyses, and partly an attempt to ensure that poor peoples agency is acknowledged and they are not simply portrayed as helpless victims of structural processes. In order to indicate that a balance between structure and agency is at work livelihoods literature has used metaphors such as pathways or trajectories to imply a process of limited agency. While instructive as metaphors, the literature has not made progress in identifying what a particular pathway or trajectory might look like and how different situations might structure (constrain and enable) agency. In the process of researching chapter 5 of this thesis a trajectory of livelihoods shaped by deforestation became apparent. Given that many interventions that respond to deforestation tend to operate as though deforestation had never occurred, this could be a useful contribution.

1.6 Structure
Chapter 2 is organised into three sections each with a distinct purpose. Firstly a research framework termed a critical geography of development intervention is defined featuring concerns of place, space and travel. The spatial element of this framework is central as it provides a theoretical perspective within which this thesis intends to make its principle theoretical contribution. Secondly, in order to introduce theoretical positions that will inform arguments in the thesis, the next section traces very selectively a development journey from origins in the western development industry, via the host government development partner/gatekeeper, to the livelihoods of the people who are intended to benefit from intervention: in this case with Southeast Asia to the fore. Thirdly, and finally, the chapter presents the theories which inform the property rights interventions both common property and individualised, private property and discusses both their ideological underpinnings and what is known about the conditions required for them to translate into effective policy interventions.


Globally, MOPS uses nationally representative panel data sets supplemented by qualitative methods in order to try and provide a picture of change, specifically, the movement of households either upwards or downwards over the poverty line. Such a panel data set was not found to be readily available in Cambodia. However, CDRI had conducted detailed empirical research in nine different villages intended to represent the so-called agroecological zones of Cambodia. An attempt was therefore made to conduct a hybrid study which combined the benefits of longtitudinal place-based study with the benefits of panel data. While there is some valuable material in these studies, they tend generally to have failed to achieve either convincing representative statistics or contextualised, grounded accounts of cause and effect to explain findings.


Chapter 3 will explain and justify the methods chosen for the study. This includes the choice to focus on national and village scales, and also the sequencing of the research whereby each case study first concentrates on apprehending the context for interventions livelihoods in their political economy context (immanent development) - and after that on interventions themselves (intentional development). The iterative process for selecting the case study villages and interventions is described and the particular methods used in conducting the national and village studies are also described and explained. Chapter 4 is a national level case study of property rights interventions in Cambodia, which is fundamentally spatial. It presents a geography of tenure insecurity explaining where tenure insecurity is found in Cambodia, and what factors have caused it. It overlays this with a geography of systematic land titling and community forestry in Cambodia which describes and explains the location of these purported solutions to tenure security issues in relation to the location of the problem. The chapters that follow are then accounts of how intervention has unfolded in two detailed, place-based case studies. Chapter 5 is a case study of a village I call Bey. It charts the factors which have determined the livelihood trajectories of villagers, and explains them in terms of the ongoing deforestation in the region. It then describes the way that community forestry travelled to Bey, and what impact it had on the lives and livelihoods of villagers there. Chapter 6 is likewise a study of village livelihoods, this time in a village I call Buon, a far more tranquil village both because there was not the contestation and uncertainty that was experienced in Bey during the study period, and also because so much of Buons economic activity was located away from the village. The development intervention in Buon was the national programme of systematic land titling. Again, its journey to the village and its impacts on local lives and livelihoods are described and explained, and compared with the representations put forward in project literature. Chapter 7 summarises the findings of the thesis and discusses their implications for property rights interventions in Cambodia, and more broadly for development industry interventions in general. The main finding of the thesis is the way in which the development interventions in these cases tend to be located away from the problems they are scheduled to address. Land tenure is located away from tenure insecurity, whilst community forestry is located in places where the forest has already been degraded. These geographies of evasion are theorised as being a consequence of overreach by the development industry and resistance by the host nation government. The thesis concludes with some general points on the policy implications of the study, as well as deriving a research framework based on the geographies of evasion hypothesis, and some more specific ideas on future research projects within that framework.


2 A Critical Geography of Development Intervention

2.1 Introduction Normative Beginnings/Assumptions
Gillian Hart (2001, 2010) has used a dichotomised view of the development concept, which she contracts to D/development.
Big D Development I define as the multiply scaled projects of intervention in the Third World that emerged in the context of decolonization struggles and the Cold War. Little d development refers to the development of capitalism as geographically uneven but spatially interconnected processes of creation and destruction, dialectically interconnected with discourses and practices of Development (Hart, 2010, p. 119).

There are, as we shall shortly see, other dichotomised views of development as a concept which have some similarities to this one, as well as some significant differences. From the point of view of this thesis, what appears to be missing in the D/development description is something of the moral impulse for justice that is for many the first engagement with, and the ultimate reference point for discussions of Development, or (in the more concrete term which I have preferred in this thesis) the development industry. The first chapter of this thesis framed a concern with development industry failure in terms of case studies which have anatomised and attempted to explain failure. This was complemented with my own personal encounters with rural development initiatives in Cambodia which have, at the level of the household and the village, been almost without exception, of peripheral significance to the lives and livelihoods of villagers. In the introduction to this chapter, which concerns, in various ways, the theoretical departure points for the thesis, I will go a little further back in my personal history in order again to supplement the points I am making in relation to the literature. As a youth in the late 1970s and early 1980s I became aware, mainly via television news, of people dying of hunger and hunger-related diseases. As I tried to make sense of the world and of what moral rules there were or should be, these avoidable deaths became a key reference point. One possibility, I felt, was that remoteness made understanding difficult. We were all morally complicit in those deaths, but that perhaps the imaginative feat required to understand them was too great. In which case the project that was required in order to prevent people dying in this way, and therefore to restore some sort of decent moral order to the world, was one of communication. If people in Britain could more fully understand, could imagine, what it meant to starve, or to watch your children starve, these deaths would be stopped. We, the decent people of England would not allow them. At other times I felt the opposite was the case: even if the people in the next town or village were starving, we would find a way of rationalising it as being unavoidable or their fault and would not lend a hand. While I tried to learn more and to think about what could and should be done, and to decide how I should live my life, there was also the short term imperative. What could I do now? How could I demonstrate to someone who had watched their children or parents starve, whilst I lived a life of comfort, that I had at least done something; had displayed some shred of 19

humanity in the face of horror and injustice. And that was where I encountered development for the first time. The people who offered a means to help were organisations like Oxfam, which were called development agencies. The part of government that took a portion of the taxes that my parents paid in order to respond to these injustices was the Overseas Development Administration. Development was, in the beginning, in my first encounter with it, a response to poverty and injustice. It was, to my mind, the organisational response to the impulse from people like me dotted around the cities, towns and countryside of Britain to do something about people dying unnecessarily. Serving this demand, a part of what Tania Murray Li (2007) refers to as the will to improve, is still to my mind the ultimate rationalisation and the legitimate mandate for the development industry. On the other hand, as Harts conceptualisation makes clear, D/development is much more and much different to the impulse for altruism or justice, much more and different to a simple will to improve. How the development industry should fulfil its mandate is of course a highly contested question. However, the normative underpinning for this thesis is that the development industry should deliver improvement, or at least contribute convincingly to the possibility of improvement. My expectations of what development might do were perhaps not wholly unrealistic. A teenager wanting to support Oxfam soon heard (or read in the newspapers) that the people who work in the Oxfam shops took the best clothes for themselves, or that half of the money that was supposed to go to the poor went towards salaries and administration. My response was that if the only way that I could send ten pence to someone in miserable circumstances was to pay a pound to a development agency, then that was good value for money. The normative concern of this thesis is with the conservation or rehabilitation of the will to improve within D/development. Within this, the assumption is that if there is to be a development industry, then it should provide a credible organisational mechanism for people prepared to spend a pound of money to give ten pence worth of support to people in desperate circumstances. There is, of course, nothing remarkable about these positions. After the nothing can be done turn of the 1990s, and an abundance of calls for development to be abandoned as a concept and a project (Escobar, 1995; W. Sachs, 1992), much academic literature seems to be returning to a something should be done position. A general repositioning and convergence beyond impasse has been reviewed by Simon (2007) and argued through by Corbridge (2007) who noted that the development industry was not going anywhere, and that whilst a perfect world may not be realised, improvement was worth striving for. While normative questions of what the development industry should do, motivate this study, much of its concern will relate to what the industry can (and cannot) do. Murray Li, who is possibly askance the current convergence, argues thus:
Transnational agencies are not in a position to trigger revolutions or change regimes. If they tried to do these things, they would be expelled. They would also alienate the social movements and political parties who see such struggles as their affair. This is a crucial paradox: the goal of transnational development agencies is poverty reduction, yet major processes of poverty production escape their grasp (Li, 2010, pp. 233-234).

This chapter is organised into three sections, each of which fulfils distinct purposes in the scheme of the thesis. Section 2.2 presents a framework, which I term critical geography of development intervention which is partly an extension of proposals that have been made by Bebbington for a theoretical framework for development geographers. Section 2.3 takes a 20

conceptualisation of development as a journey from 2.2 and uses this to introduce perspectives from existing theoretical and empirical literature that inform the arguments made in the course of the thesis. Section 2.4 focuses on property rights interventions by describing the theoretical foundations for the policy interventions introduced in this study, discussing the critical literature in relation to those theoretical foundations, and establishing from a policy point of view what is known about the conditions and prospects for successful interventions based on such theories.

2.2 A Critical Geography of Development Intervention

This thesis is concerned with the relationship between development industry interventions and the livelihoods of the people whom they are intended to serve. As I have just explained, this is not a neutral, detached concern, but is rather grounded in the proposition that the development industry should serve as a bridge between the altruistic impulses of people who have more than enough to support their material needs, and other people in other places who do not. My approach to apprehending this relationship I will call critical geography of development intervention. Critical here is to indicate scepticism in relation to development. So whilst I start from the position that the development industry should be an organisational response to altruistic impulses for justice, I do not take it for granted that the development industry is such a response. Rather, I assume that the sorts of failure documented in the 1990s case studies in Chapter 1 should alert us to the ways in which the development industry might not be what it should be. Three components comprise this critical geography of development intervention. First, contextualised understandings of place provide an analytical lens through which to view the general claims of development theory and policy. Second, studies of the spatial distribution of development interventions provide understandings about the locations and circumstances in which the development industry might or might not engage with poverty. Third, the idea of development interventions as journeys is used to unpack the contingencies and choices that shape those spatial distributions. 2.2.1 Place-based studies and policy simplifications The reason I value The Anti-Politics Machine discussed in Chapter One is not primarily its theoretical discussions or its contribution to Anti-development or Post-development (cf. Simon, 2007, p. 205), but rather for the powerful empirical case that it presents. The project in Lesotho managed to represent and engage the population as though they were essentially rural livestock farmers. Migrant labour dominated the local economy, and was arguably the dominant fact in what constituted Lesotho as a country, yet the project pushed this to the side of its vision. As a result, the project managed to utterly misapprehend local realities: increased selling livestock was not indicative of improved production, but was rather indicative of economic crisis as the savings and status accumulated in the animals were liquidated to meet short-term needs. And the enigma at the heart of the case was that the people working on the project were highly-educated, intelligent and principled. Yet somehow the dynamics of development practice had led them to design and implement a project so misconceived that it could only fail. Part of what Fergusons case convincingly showed was the way that the development industry in that case was so committed to a particular way of interpreting situations that rather than engage with reality, it engaged with a simplified and distorted version of reality. The idea of policy as simplification and distortion will be a theme encountered in relation to the work of various leading development thinkers in this chapter (e.g. Li, 2002; Mosse, 2005; Ostrom, 21

1990). Piers Blaikie (2006), writing on community based natural resource management (CBNRM) as it is practiced globally, reflected on epistemological tensions when studying development policies and practice. On the one hand there is a sense that development theory and development policy can and should be taken at face value:
Better theory will then appeal to rational policy makers, who change or adapt the existing policy in directions suggested by the theory (Blaikie, 2006, p. 1947).

On the other hand, that policy should not be taken seriously in its own terms, but rather that it is rhetoric deployed in a context of competing ideas and interests and therefore should be subject to a more discursive and political approach (Blaikie, 2006, p. 1947). Analyses of discourse and of competing interests will indeed be of service when attempting to analyse why an intervention misrepresents its context. However, in order to understand whether and how situations might be misrepresented, contextualised understandings of place are key. A good empirical case study of development practice, such as those encountered in Chapter 1 (Ferguson, 1994; Porter et al., 1991), might demonstrate how a development intervention (mis)represents its context, and how that contributes to intended and unintended effects. A good theory of development practice, meanwhile, will provide an explanation of why the policy is failing to engage the situation it claims to address. Many of the methods for understanding failure will include the more discursive and political approach (Blaikie, 2006, p. 1947), but the ultimate intention is to contribute theory that can be of service to rational policy makers who change or adapt the existing policy in directions suggested by the theory (Blaikie, 2006, p. 1947). The strengths and limitations of case studies as research methods, and how I have conducted contextualised studies of place in this thesis is described in Chapter 3. Using contextualised understandings of local reality in order to critique the generalised abstractions of theory and policy, whilst not untypical of work by geographers, is certainly not unique to geography either. Studying the spatial distribution of interventions, on the other hand, is very much at the heart of the discipline; in this thesis it will be the analysis of the distribution of interventions that will enable discussions to go beyond the specific local cases and to make a theoretical contribution to discussions of development industry practice and effects. 2.2.2 Spatial Distribution: Mapping Development Interventions Reviewing work by development geographers at the outset of this project, I found it difficult to identify a sub-discipline of development geography. Some authors do not recognise the term at all. There is, for example, no entry for development geography in the 907 pages of the Dictionary of Human Geography (R J Johnston, Gregory, Pratt, & Watts, 2000), nor is there even any mention of development geography in the standard textbook Geographies of Development (Potter, Binns, Elliott, & Smith, 1999). Amongst the authors who would recognise a distinct sub-discipline called development geography various definitions fit into two categories. The first defines a sub-discipline which focuses on the uneven spread of capitalism across physical space, as for example Johnston (1997, pp. 231-237) reviewed within Anglo-American geography. The second defines a field which studies the people and places of the developing world (e.g. Hodder, 2000, p. 5) and therefore as a successor to or descendent of tropical geography (Power & Sidaway, 2004). When geographers have addressed the subject of development, and especially development


intervention, their contributions have barely been distinguishable from those of nongeographers.16 The article by Simon cited above is a case in point. He mentions in passing the association of the discipline of geography with nineteenth- and twentieth-century imperial exploitation (Simon, 2007, p. 208) and goes on to suggest that if geography has been able to rehabilitate itself, then development studies should too (Simon, 2007, p. 215). Geography does not seem to be the lens through which he sees development; rather it seems to exist as a separate field with which comparisons may be drawn. Other development geographers clearly tackled issues that were directly relevant to my themes (Corbridge, 2007; Hart, 2001; Kumar & Corbridge, 2002 for example), but it was difficult to discern geography in these contributions. Bebbington made some similar observations in an article (Bebbington, 2003) where he argued that development geographers had more or less deliberately become invisible in development studies, but that the core concerns of geography in its simple concern for variation across space, and linkages among places should be more central in the analytical concerns of development studies (Bebbington, 2003, p. 298). That article was one of a series of three where Bebbington proposed a theoretical framework for a geography of development (Bebbington, 2000) or a geography of development intervention(Bebbington, 2004). He suggested that development geographys particular role might involve dichotomising development and mapping the two separate parts onto each other:
Cowen and Shenton (1996) have argued that one of the confusions, common throughout the development literature, is between development as an immanent and unintentional process, as in, for example, the development of capitalism and development as an intentional activity. The suggestion here is that mapping the latter onto the former, and tracing the mutually constitutive interactions between the two, is critical to a geography of development (Bebbington, 2000, p. 515).

This suggestion mapping intentional development onto immanent and analysing the interactions between the two17, forms the framework for the spatial component of my critical geography of development intervention. However, the confusions about immanent and intentional require some attention. Bebbington oscillates between the concept of intentional/immanent development (Cowen & Shenton, 1996) and Harts (2001) D/development. Hart sees the value of a third dichotomy, namely that of Karl Polanyi. For Polanyi, though, capitalist development was far from immanent or unintentional. Rather, the project to dis-embed the market from social relations and to commodify land, labour and money (i.e. market liberalism) was very much a planned intervention, whilst the reaction by society to re-embed the market in its social context, was the more spontaneous element of the double movement which he described as being integral to capitalist development (Block, 2001, p. 10; Polanyi, 2001, p. 141). Bebbingtons compromise was to retain the notion of immanent and intentional development, but modify Cowen and Shentons concepts by acknowledging that immanent development too could be intentional in character18. I too use the terms immanent and intentional

See for example the contributions in Schuurman (1993) This includes contributions from both geographers and sociologists but little in the content would lead a reader to characterise any particular writer as one or the other. 17 Unlike Bebbington, I do not assume that the two are mutually constitutive.

While Cowen and Shentons conception of historical development as immanent is difficult, it is otherwise similar to the idea of the uneven contractions and expansions of capitalism that Hart and Bebbington use, with the stress upon capitalist progress as inherently destructive and disordering, as it generates unemployment, social


development in this thesis, but define them slightly differently, and in terms that keep the struggles and dynamics implicit in Harts and Polanyis concepts in play. In this thesis intentional and immanent development are defined in terms of the actor which is carrying out the intervention. Thus, for the intervening agency, its own intervention is an instance of intentional development. The context into which the intervention is inserted is one of immanent development in the sense that the context is one with its own pre-existing dynamics. What that immanent development consists of is the set of ongoing struggles that constitute a political economy or a political ecology. This can be conceptualised as a struggle between Harts Development and development, or, as in Polanyi, between the disembedding and re-embedding tendencies within capitalism19. Cast in a Polanyian frame it is clear of course that the development industry can be found on both sides of the internal contradictions of capitalism. In some cases the development industry actors work to liberate capital, whilst in others they seek its re-embedding in society. Bebbingtons proposition for a geography of development intervention provides a theoretical perspective (Bernard, 2002, p. 75): the idea that mapping an intervention in a territory, and mapping key features of the political economy that the intervention seeks to address onto the same territory will yield insights into how the intervention and the political economy are constituted. It does not in itself provide a body of existing theory. Bebbington himself has used his framework on just one occasion, when looking at the operations of Dutch NGOs in Peru and Bolivia. Bebbington argued that studies of the geography of intervention should take into account the geography of aid chains and transnational networks associated with those aid chains. In this he included factors such as the historical engagements of funders, and donorfunded activities, especially centralised training courses. The NGOs he studied were oriented towards reducing poverty. However, when he mapped their activities onto poverty in the two countries, he found that the NGOs were not active in the poorest regions. This Bebbington ascribed to the structuring of their geographies by earlier engagements. To some extent he found that these older structural factors were being replaced as an indirect result of Dutch being targeted on poverty grounds towards Africa and South Asia rather than Latin America. This had led to NGOs increasingly seeking financing by getting contracts from multilaterally or bilaterally financed government programmes, which had their own thematic and geographical path dependencies (Bebbington, 2004, p. 737). While these findings both explain a particular case and might be used to predict and explain other cases they are certainly nothing that Bebbington claims as worthy of being theory in geographies of development intervention. The intention in this thesis was that by working inductively within the theoretical framework of geographies of development intervention it might be possible to generate some hypotheses or theories that constituted an early contribution towards a body of theory of geographies of development intervention, which would also respond to the research interest that motivated the thesis, namely the nature of the relationship between development interventions and the livelihoods of the people that they are intended to assist.

misery and conflicts, which require some form of ordering, namely intentional development. Intentional development embodies a range of philosophies and programmes to counter the disordering effects of progress. Crucially, philosophies of development become doctrines of development for Cowen and Shenton when they are adopted by states. Cowen and Shenton are dismissive of the claims of contemporary alternative development theories as doctrines precisely because they are not connected to a state apparatus that might realistically enforce them.

Another similar dichotomy also partly inspired by Polanyi, is Craig and Porters liberal versus territorial modes of governance (2006, p. 23).


2.2.3 Development Interventions as Travel The final component of my critical geography of development intervention framework is the conceptualisation of development interventions as travel. The main analytical purpose here is to unpack the histories of interventions. A journey is, of necessity, through time and space. By demanding some attention to the question of where an intervention comes from one starts to attend to the sets of relationships and events that constituted it. In our introduction, for example, the Magarini project (Porter et al., 1991) was traced back to its Australian origins in various ways which illuminated the question about why there was an Australian project in Kenya (because Australia wanted to counter the negative impacts its white Australia reputation was having on its trade relations in the Pacific), why the project was located where it was (because suggestions from Australian consultants for a programme which would generate entitlements for communities nationwide and threaten interests of the clients of the ruling elite were rejected by the Kenyan government), and why the project failed (similar projects in similar conditions in Australia had met the same fate). Two quite different texts in my reading have particularly influenced my understanding of the implications of development as travel: Kortens (1982), discussions of successful projects in Asia, and Craigs (1997) account of the travels of anti-biotic pills to Vietnam. In the 1970s David Korten had been involved in USAID supported development programmes in Asia. In 1982 he wrote an article which tried to distil lessons from five successful programmes. These were not all complete or permanent successes, and they had quite different scopes of operation (family planning in Thailand, dairy cooperatives in India, irrigation management in Philippines, community development movements in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka). What Korten distilled from these cases, however, was a three-phase evolutionary process. Each phase represented about 5-7 years of learning, leading him to call this a learning process approach. The first phase was learning to be effective. During this phase an intervention was trialled, errors were corrected, resistance was overcome and eventually interventions became established as effective in their initial locations. The second phase was learning to be efficient, where having become effective, the programme then found ways to achieve that operate at reduced costs. This included some compromises in terms of effectiveness. The third phase was learning to expand, whereby the programme found ways to operate at a larger scale, which included some compromises in terms of effectiveness and efficiency. Often cited in the late 1980s and early 1990s the Learning Process Approach has not made a lasting imprint on development thinking. Neither has it been empirically tested and developed such as to become a more convincing theory for explaining successful dissemination of improvement projects. The phrase learning process is encountered often enough, but usually as code for a form of trial-and-error learning by doing rather than a structured diffusion of a newly-introduced policy or practice. What it does offer, however, is a counter to the proposition that organisations and programmes that make a difference can be introduced according to a detailed pre-determined plan. It also suggests a form of evolution that originates in one place within the area of intervention. So an idea for a project may have been tested or developed in Nepalese mountains, Peruvian slums, or North American universities. However, if it is to work in a new territory, it might need to be re-establish itself in situ. The managerial implication is first of all, that interventions should work somewhere in a territory before attempts are made to make them work everywhere. Secondly, that considerable time and flexibility might be required in order to enable a successful intervention to spread successfully. 25

While Korten provided some insights into the organisational difficulties of producing effective, efficient interventions at a large scale, Craigs (1997) focus was on the difficulties inherent in transplanting things and concepts one from context to another. It is well-known that the promotion of antibiotic use is challenging because the pills only work if they are taken in the correct doses for the correct period of time. Craig looked at the travels of antibiotics to Vietnam in terms of travelling rationalities. In other words, the introduction of antibiotics required that both the pill and the rationale concerning its use needed to travel. What Craig found, of course, was that the pills travelled rather more easily than the ideas. Often when the pills arrived somewhere, in a pharmacy or a family home, they were not accompanied by the rationales that had informed their design. Instead, other ideas about what medicine was and how it should be used which were already circulating locally attached themselves to the pills and determined how they were used. This serves as an example and as a metaphor for what can happen when new ideas are introduced. The place to which they are introduced will never be empty and simply waiting to receive new ideas. Rather there will already be ideas and explanations circulating and competing. Some parts of an intervention may travel as easily and as successfully as small white pills, but other parts may not travel well at all and be crowded out by local ideas and local agendas. In this thesis, there will not be a case study of the journey of a particular idea or person. Rather the concept of interventions as journeys will be used to inform analysis, for example showing how an edict from the Prime Minister is transformed en route to the village, or looking at the role of the national government as gatekeeper. 2.2.4 Critical Geography of Development Intervention Recapitulated To conclude, the conceptual framework for this thesis is one which adopts a critical, or sceptical approach to generalising claims of theory and policy that inform intervention. It seeks evidence of the mechanisms that underpin these general claims by means of an analysis of processes in particular places. This is seen as vital given the level of misrepresentation exemplified in the policy narratives of the 1990s case studies which provided the departure point in the introduction to this thesis. A second component is an attention to the spatial distribution of interventions. This is conceptualised as mapping the intervention (intentional development) onto key features of the political economy/ecology (immanent development) which it seeks to intervene in. Complementary to the notion of spatial distribution is the notion of development as travel. Thus, rather than seeing an intervention in space as accomplished fact, it is seen as the result of a series of journeys which are influenced by interests and discourses in play at their origins, by the various gatekeepers who might obstruct or facilitate the journey, as well as by the conditions in the final destination. It is this third conception, of development as journey, which is used to structure the following section which presents key elements of the literature on development interventions and their contexts which will inform the analysis of property rights interventions in Cambodia.

2.3 Fraught Journeys: from Western Origins to Southeast Asian Landscapes

If development geography is the nascent theoretical field to which this thesis has ambitions to contribute theory, other theories and empirical work contribute to understanding the context for the study. The general research interest motivating this thesis is in Western development interventions and their relations to the rural people who are intended to benefit from them. These interventions involve journeys (metaphoric and actual) from western countries to landscapes in the global South. In this section I will highlight three stages on this journey and look at particular theoretical perspectives that can inform our understanding of them. These 26

are highly selective samplings from much wider reading, made with particular reference to their relevance to the case studies and arguments that follow. I will first consider the origins of the journey in the western development industry, where attention will be given to the ever-expanding nature of the development policy agenda, and also to the incentives which structure the development industry. I will then consider a key moment on the journey, namely the engagement with the host country government characterised as both gatekeeper and development partner. Here I will briefly discuss host country governments relationships to formal and informal economies via theories of neopatrimonialism, shadow states and the Asian Values developmentalist state. Thirdly, and finally, I will look at the idea of livelihoods, and more particularly at attempts to understand rural livelihoods in Southeast Asia both in terms of more traditional agriculture-centred agrarian transition debates and alternative de-agrarianisation perspectives which suggest that agriculture and agricultural land may no longer be the central issues in rural change. 2.3.1 The Western Development Industry Policy Trajectories and Industry Trajectories Development policy is not drafted in isolation from other policies20. A global geography of development intervention (see 2.2.2 above) would show that a spatial distribution of assistance where Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan went from receiving 2% of all aid in 2000 to 26% of all aid in 2005, while less than half of all aid provided by the main donors is channelled to the 63 poorest countries in the world where the majority of poor people live (Riddell, 2009, pp. 66-67). The politics of security and trade agendas clearly have implications for how development is perceived and engaged21. Nevertheless, the point I wish to emphasize here relates to the policies articulated within the development industry and its tendency to overreach. By overreach here I mean a tendency to set itself tasks which are beyond it capacity to deliver. What Porter et al. (1991) noted as control orientation in Magarini in the introduction to this thesis has remained characteristic of development industry responses to difficulty and failure at all scales over recent decades. Each failure has led to a widening of the agenda and an attempt to control more factors. Sectoral project interventions did not address poverty fully, so multi-sectoral integrated rural development projects were attempted. It no longer became sufficient to support projects, so programmes were supported instead. Even where objectives were somewhat narrow, as Mosse has noted, policy has attempted to control more and more factors:
...aid policy has become more managerial. Its ends the quantified reduction of poverty or ill health have narrowed, but its means have diversified to the management of more and more: financial and political systems and civil society (Mosse, 2005, p. 237).


Craig and Porter put Trumans famous Point 4, usually taken as heralding the beginning of modern development assistance in the context of the security agenda which shaped the Truman Doctrine (Craig & Porter, 2006, pp. 46-49). 21 In Cambodia there is currently international criticism of the Cambodian judges at the joint CambodianInternational court to prosecute senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge for genocide. These judges are held to be susceptible to political influence. There was, meanwhile, no call for such a trial from the international community for the first decade after the end of the Khmer Rouge rule. That was because the UN, mainly for reasons of US-China relations, chose to continue to recognize the Khmer Rouge in exile as the legitimate (sole, then joint) government of Cambodia. In this context, one might expect some scepticism from Cambodians with regard to the idea that the international human rights agenda is universal, rather than one that while universal in name is only deployed as and when other political contingencies suit.


Addressing needs was no longer sufficient, so the agenda broadened and development policy attempted to address peoples rights and entitlements. As delivery of services did not suffice, the agenda broadened to include democracy and governance. The advent of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers saw the development industry attempting to discipline the whole of the governments policy and budgeting process, with every decision and every plan to be related to poverty reduction (Biddulph, 2001b). Merilee Grindle (2004) comparing the scope of successive World Development Reports from 1997 to 2002 demonstrated how, even in relation to the emerging governance agenda, the list of items to address (factors to control) expanded rapidly. The criticism of control orientation that was central to Porter et al.s conclusions at Magarini was based on the fact that, for a variety of reasons documented in their case, events in and around the project area were clearly beyond the capacity of the Australians to control. The attempt to control these factors was futile because increased control-orientation leads inevitably to a denial of reality and greater not less uncertainty (Porter et al., 1991, p. 212) Tania Murray Li also saw futility in relation to a development industry agenda, particularly where it was expanded to issues which challenged elite interests (Li, 2007, p. 4), a point which she has expanded more generally to attempts by international development agencies to attempt to support substantive political change in host countries (Li, 2010, pp. 233-234 cited in the introduction to this chapter). While expanded international agendas may have limited capacity to achieve substantial change, they have developed a track record for achieving facades of change. Poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSP) have been written in countries around the world, supposedly nationally-owned, but often repeating verbatim the guidelines from the World Banks four-volume Aide Memoire (Biddulph, 2001b; Porter & Craig, 2003). As a result, documents that pretend to be centre-pieces of national government policy are in fact little more than side-effects of the insistent need for donors to have the sense that all elements of budgeting, planning and execution of national development policy are under (their) control. One can only imagine the scorn that this would provoke from Cowen and Shenton (1996) given their conclusion that doctrines of development could only be taken seriously to the extent that they were serious state projects. I return shortly ( below) to a consideration of how to apprehend and conceptualise government agendas that are developed behind the ventriloquised facade of internationally authored national policy. One consequence of these expanding agendas has been strands of academic analysis which no longer take development industry policies seriously (cf. Blaikie 2006, p.1947 cited above). Pieterses (2009, p. 33) tone is one of sceptical disdain:
The development industry is, in no small measure, a rhetorical industry, an ideological performance in which discourse production, paradigm maintenance and tweaking the perception of receding horizons are the actual achievement.

Mosse, on the other hand, while making similar points about development practice reproducing rather than implementing policy, and referring to policy machinery that fabricates its separation from political economy also finds reasons for optimism in this apparent failure:
An implication of the privileging of policy over practice and the limited scope for control in development is the autonomy that subordinates in developments chain of organisation (whether field staff, agency mangers or others) can create for themselves and their fields of action. In de Certeaus terms they consent to development models while making of them something different, escaping the power of the dominant order without leaving it, using their


tactics to contend with the strategies of consultants and donor advisers (1984: xviii). In short, policy is co-opted from below (Mosse, 2005, p. 239).

The idea that even if the goals inscribed in development policies and project documents are not realised, that the interventions might nevertheless create space for resourceful agents to make something worthwhile out of them is an important one, and one which we will return to reflect on in the light of the cases in this study. While the western development industry has generated ever broader, more all-encompassing policy agendas for itself, its position has become questioned, not because of internal reflections on the problems of overreach, but rather because of the growing awareness that there are other more important sources of both assistance and investment than the western development industry. Pieterse (2009, p. 40), has argued that the development industry is not as important as it thinks by noting that, for example, remittances from migrants who have left countries in the global South and send money back constitute a larger overall financial transfer than development assistance. This is in the context of an essay where he tries to discern directions for development in the 21st Century. Here of course the key contextual factor is the crisis in US capitalism where the policies of deregulation that have been promoted by the development industry are seen to be the very policies that have propelled the United States into crisis and debt (Hart, 2010). Whether in the search for sources of investment, or in the search for policies that might support stability and growth, there is a shift in progress which Pieterse summarised as looking east. The current historical juncture might, of course be one where the development industry becomes even more thoroughly (and perhaps more explicitly) re-embedded in donors self-interested security and trade agendas, as evidenced by Hilary Clintons framings of smart power with defense, diplomacy and development in harness (Hart, 2010, p. 18). However, it might also be one where the possibility to open development industry eyes to its own limitations, and to coax, goad or satirise it out of overreach are more promising than they have been for some time. Incentives in the Development Industry More or less explicit (and more or less central to the analyses of failure and misrepresentation) in the Thaba-Tseka and Magarini case studies in the introduction was the sense that development industry actors were responding to powerful incentives. The framers of ThabaTseka needed to represent rural Lesotho as isolated, rural and as in control of its own economic destiny in order to make it amenable to the sort of projects that the Canadians and the World Bank could provide (Ferguson, 1994). The various missions in Kenya needed to suggest that water could be found, and that the internal rate of return for the project would be positive, in order to keep the intervention alive (Porter et al., 1991). A brief look at work from institutional economics provides insights into the reasons why the interests of the poor might not always come first even in an industry whose work is explicitly framed in terms of poverty reduction. This work tends to take the organisational objectives of development organisations at face value (i.e. does not concern itself with the possible effects of parallel security and trade agendas, or of the effects of shifting economic trends), but instead to look at the incentive structures within organisations. Institutional economics is attentive to issues of information and transaction costs. In the context of the development industry this orients attention towards the distance between the people who are supposed to benefit from development interventions and the people who pay for them:
This geographical and political separation between beneficiaries and taxpayers blocks the normal performance feedback process: beneficiaries may be able to observe performance but


cannot modulate payments (rewards to the agents) in function of performance (Martens, 2002a, p. 14).

The link postulated to repair this broken feedback loop is project evaluation. However, evaluation is subject to incentives, and, Martens argues, the conflicting agendas of taxpayers and suppliers of development which create the climate for the evaluation, which will invariably be handled by the aid agency, with the consequence that evaluation will be manipulated in function of these interests (Martens, 2002a, p. 27). Generally, the studies by Martens et al. (2002) tended to find strong incentives for agencies to concentrate effort on financial reporting and input reporting, rather than the less tangible and more risky reporting of results or outcomes22. Interestingly, one of the policy conclusions that Martens (2002b, p. 187) drew was that sub-contracting to interest groups whose interests coincided with the beneficiaries and with the project orientation would be a way of avoiding some of the problems of broken feedback and perverse incentives. He particularly named NGOs in this regard, though as we will see, the incentive structures facing NGOs and those facing small private commercial companies might not differ greatly. Ostrom et al., similarly, conducted incentive studies which looked at the factors affecting the behaviour of both staff and consultants employed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida. They found that the relatively rapid rotation of staff, on average four years per posting, and the lack of relationship between performance of past projects and future career prospects, meant that staff had few incentives to learn about the sustainability of projects. With respect to contracting companies, they found that these companies were strongly motivated by a desire for long-term relationships with Sida. This led them to try and maximise their efforts towards tasks which they felt would please Sida, which often included concentrating control in their own hands, rather than taking the more risky option of ceding more control to intended beneficiaries. (Ostrom, Gibson, Shivakumar, & Andersson, 2002, pp. xxi-xxvi). In short, a brief encounter with institutional economics analyses of the development industry suggests that the structure of incentives in the industry encourages the reporting of success more than it does the achievement of it. Furthermore, the strong incentive to report success tends to focus attention on indicators that are both countable and under agency control. Money out of the door, inputs purchased and direct outputs may be expected to at the forefront of agency considerations. To summarise the first of these three steps in the journey, namely its western origins, the development industry, with demand and supply located in the west, and embedded in western political interests, is susceptible to policy overreach. Its successes may be imagined as being in spite of rather than because of the structure of incentives within the industry: attention is focused on short term, easily measurable indicators with strong incentives to decouple these from the contingency and complexity of substantive outcomes. Tempering this bleak picture of an industry in ever-increasing overreach, but with every encouragement to represent success through the deployment of indicators under its own control are the possibilities that

One of my observations from work as a development consultant would be that experienced development managers and consultants are extremely aware of the importance of defining indicators that will satisfy donor cravings for success. The ubiquitous logical frameworks that projects are required to generate have a higher end, where the goals are described in terms of the general conditions that are to be influenced, whilst the lower end of the framework describes the inputs and outputs which the development agency pretty much controls itself. The skill, then, is to shift elements of the intervention as high up the hierarchy as possible: dress outputs up as outcomes; dress inputs up as outputs etc. By this means, simply to implement a project guarantees that it can be reported as successful.


firstly, the time may be ripe for a more realistic look at the capabilities of the industry, and secondly, that however much the designs and policies of the industry may fail, they may also generate space for initiatives which make unintended but beneficial use of the possibilities created by development industry interventions. 2.3.2 The Nation State Gatekeeper and Development Partner The Development Partner Problematic

The national government of the country hosting interventions has a key role to play for any development industry activity. Assistance to or via government must be framed up as a cooperation project and the government must sign up for it. Non-governmental organisations meanwhile must also register with government and are subject to national regulation. Li argues that even the more enlightened development industry actors in Indonesia:
...pay astonishingly little to attention to the character of ruling regimes, which they continue to treat as development partners desiring only the best for their citizens. In Indonesia, despite the evidence of widespread state-sponsored violence and the trampling of rights, donors continue to assume that the state apparatus operates, or can be made to operate, in a coherent and accountable manner in the public interest (Li, 2007, p. 275).

In this respect it seems almost inevitable that there would be a gap between the documentation of development policy and the understanding of development practitioners. It would hardly seem feasible to have a government sign up to a project which included phrases such as widespread state-sponsored violence and the trampling of rights23. Project practitioners are therefore faced with a range of possibilities: 1. Be aware that some state practices and agendas are systematically excluded from project documentation for diplomatic reasons, and factor these back in to everyday and strategic work. 2. Accept uncritically the view of the state as a development partner fully committed to the project as described in the project document. 3. Delineate between the world of the project (probably as technical) and the world of politics (whether party politics or the politics of other struggles for resources and power) In accordance with the critical perspective adopted in this thesis, I select theories which help us to understand how and why there may be more to the role and functions of a host country government than what is implied in the development partner framings of development industry documents. Shadow state theory relates to competition over resources and potentially links to resource curse theory. Neopatrimonialism relates to how networks of power are managed in terms of recruitment and management of support and possible accountabilities. These are both concepts that have been developed in African contexts (Erdmann & Engel, 2007; Reno, 2000), but have been applied to Cambodia (Kimchoeun et al., 2007; Le Billon, 2000). These will be complemented by a third, more positive concept, namely that of the Developmental State. Neo-patrimonialism

The concept of neo-patrimonialism addresses the way in which the motivations and structures that define the activities of members of government reflect other fields of interest than those defined by their formal role or the constitution, policies and laws that are associated with

Though as we shall see, some quite critical formulations are certainly possible.


formal government. Erdman and Engel (Erdmann & Engel, 2006, 2007) reviewed literature on neo-patrimonialism and attempted to crystallise a definition of the concept. They concluded as follows:
Neopatrimonialism is a mix of two types of political domination. It involves a conjunction of patrimonial and legal-rational bureaucratic domination. The exercise of power in neopatrimonial regimes is erratic and unpredictable, as opposed to the calculable exercise of power embedded in universal rules (...). Public norms under neopatrimonialism are formal and rational, but their social practice is often personal and informal. Finally, neopatrimonialism corresponds with authoritarian politics, whereas legal-rational domination relates to democracy (Erdmann & Engel, 2007, p. 114).

Whilst many earlier writers had suggested that western or modern or legal-rational forms of government had been facades concealing a politics that was essentially personalised and patrimonial, Erdmann and Engel felt that this was to effectively cast neo-patrimonialism as a form of patrimonialism. They argued that the literature and the conceptual framework for neopatrimonialism needed to pay more attention to the implications of the legal-rational element of the neo-patrimonial framework. A particular distinction they suggested between patrimonialism and neo-patrimonialism was that under patrimonialism the big person and the little person deal directly with each other in the exchange of services for protection. Under neo-patrimonialism, on the other hand, they suggested that a plethora of brokers mediated exchanges at the intersections of the two interlinked systems of domination (Erdmann & Engel, 2007, p. 107) In Cambodia one item on the research agenda, explicitly theorized in neo-patrimonial terms, has been to investigate the nature and extent of any accountability to clients within the informal patron-client networks which, for instance, subsidise infrastructure construction throughout the country as part of political campaigning (Craig & Kimchoeun, 2009). Blaikies (2006, pp. 1950-1951) discussion of the role of the intersection of the State with CBNRM (sub-titled blowing on cold embers?) uses Malawi during and since the rule of Hastings Banda as a prime example of a neo-patrimonial state. Referring to pre-existing flows as patrimony, in contrast with aid money which he calls neo-patrimony he describes the way in which the neo-patrimonial state manages to keep up sufficient appearances to keep donor funds flowing, but without disturbing existing informal revenues:
...the waving through of some local NGO projects and some rhetorical gestures in the form of policy papers may be enough to ensure the continuing flow of the neo-patrimony of aid without really compromising the flow from the capillaries which draw patrimony from the local up to the national level. While there were several training and skills development workshops facilitated by the Department of Forests, foot-dragging over approving regulations and management plans has meant that many communities have lost interest.

Within the modern development industry, exemplified with Trumans Point 4 speech, capacity building is a card that is almost always played. Whatever problem is to be tackled, whatever strategy is to be employed to address it, it is almost inevitable that training will be required. Blaikies example demonstrates how capacity building (training and skills development) can be part of a national government strategy in a neo-patrimonial frame. Government accepts training programmes, which give the impression of progress and keep the money flowing, but use them as a means to postpone or substitute for substantive action along the policy lines envisaged. The point here, of course, is that metaphors of corruption and decay tend to suggest state actors who lack competence or capacity. What the neo-patrimonial discourse stresses, on the other hand, is that the strong men and presidential figures at the head of neo-patrimonial 32

systems may need to be highly active and competent, but that their competences are in managing the two systems, rather than bringing the ideal form of one of them into reality:
Patrons in neo-patrimonial relationships are also required to have special ability to manage the system. Neo-patrimonial power effectively combines mastery of the formal system with mastery of the informal as neo-patrons straddle two or more power bases, combining resources from cultural (traditional), family, economic political and administrative worlds (Kimchoeun et al., 2007, p. 44).

When the neo-patrimonial theorists begin to discuss control over resources and the management of violence they begin to share common ground with another theory of state functioning which comes out of Africa, and which has been applied to Cambodia. Shadow state

Shadow state24 theory is primarily concerned with the relationship between political elites and informal economies. It implies two broad claims. One is that the erosion of the formal state and the flourishing of informal markets should not be seen as a form of decay, but rather as an active project conducted by formal leaders who maintain their political power through the control of informal markets. Second is that this strategy is facilitated by the involvement of foreign investors in informal markets. Reno (1995) introduced the idea of the shadow state in his study of governance in Sierra Leone, which also drew on examples from Zaire and Liberia. He subsequently made a more generalised, summarised presentation of his shadow state theory (Reno, 2000). He demonstrated that this was not simply a contemporary phenomenon, but that colonial rulers had made a conscious choice to support the informal economy rather than an emerging formal economy. In current times he discusses how the shadow state is resilient to difficulties, how it has coped with attempts to introduce liberal policies both in the 1930s and the 1990s by intensifying rather than weakening the link between political power and informal markets:
Thus entrepreneurs in state offices and informal markets do not respond with political support for policies that undercut their own political power through control of markets (Reno, 1995, p. 55).

and concludes that the most likely successor to any shadow state with its networks of informal business links and private armies, is another Shadow state set up by somebody within the existing arrangements (Reno, 1995, p. 188). Whilst Reno emphasises that a shadow state is a matter of degree, rather than an all-ornothing proposition (Reno, 2000, p. 442) the key dimensions of the theory point to an extremely predatory relationship between the political elite and the people, as rulers are imagined fomenting chaos in order that people will seek their personal protection in a situation resembling government-as-protection-racket which undermines any ideas of reciprocity between ruler and ruled (Reno, 2000, pp. 442-443 & 446). The chaos features the deployment of gangs of violent youths employed as private armies paid to protect elite business interests and to intimidate opponents. Such a system is inherently instable, but stability partly comes through the ability of the elite to use its international legitimacy to attract international investment (often for activities that would not be allowed in states with a functioning rule of law).


When Reno (1995) coined the term he capitalized it as Shadow State. Other authors are divided. I have opted not to capitalize (likewise for the discussion of the developmental state below).


The absence of a formal state that can enforce property rights or provide political stability will deter most investors in manufacturing and service sectors. However, enclave natural resource operations may provide lucrative opportunity:
Diamond, cobalt and gold mining, timber operations and money laundering do not require extensive protection of assets. Where necessary, firms can manage their local economic environments, either by renting local military units, or hiring private security guards from outside the country (Reno, 2000, p. 456).

Cambodia clearly is not an extreme case of a shadow state. The fact that it has hosted a substantial manufacturing sector during the past decade is one example of this, as are the presence of largely functioning (if less than perfect) health and education systems. Nevertheless, as we shall see, Le Billon (2000) has clearly identified elements of the shadow state in Cambodias governance, especially in relations to how illegal (or informal or clandestine in Renos terms) logging incomes underpinned State power during the 1990s. The focus of shadow state economics on resource enclaves links to the literature on resource curses, which suggest that, paradoxically, countries with high value natural resources fare worse economically than countries without such resources. A two-step argument is suggested: first that the reorientation of the elite to capturing rent from the resource works to an erosion of accountability to the wider population and a deterioration of national accountability and institutions. Secondly, and possibly more contentiously, that the natural resource money is then frequently used to subsidise other parts of the economy such that they do not become competitive (Auty, 2001; Ross, 1999, 2001). Finally, shadow state theory, and its focus on the political economy of resource enclaves links to theories of Uneven Development (Harvey, 2006; Smith, 2008) which suggest that as capital moves to and fro in the global landscape that it creates sites of accumulation which are also sites of dispossession. A particular argument about uneven development was provided by Ferguson (2005). Reviewing experience in Africa, he made the case that globalisation, far from smoothing out space and creating homogeneity, is actually characterised by the way in which capital does not flow evenly across and through spaces but instead hops over unusable Africa, alighting only in mineral-rich enclaves that are starkly disconnected from their national societies (Ferguson, 2005, p. 380). This establishes the vision of a form of development which is characterised by violent and unfair competition for high value resources dominated by footloose actors able to avoid systems of either global or national political accountability. Fergusons vision has a particular resonance when he outlines the example of the offshore oil in Angola as the clearest case of extractive enclaving (2005, p. 378), given that prognoses about Cambodias economic future are currently dominated by the prospects of income from recent discoveries of offshore oil. However, for the purposes of this thesis, as we will see, it is the timber wealth in Cambodias forests which have turned them into the more insecure areas on the map as they have attracted the interest of cut-and-run capitalists and the security apparatuses that they employ (see Chapter 4). Literature on neo-patrimonialism and shadow states highlights the way in which the informal agendas of political leaders may bear little relation to the public transcripts to which they subscribe when conducting their formal business. In extreme form, their interests consist of undermining the very objectives inscribed in official policy. The literature furthermore highlights the way in which the informal agenda may be highly focused onto resource rich areas, and that in cooperation with international capital, national elite interests may become quite divergent from those of wider populations. These are important correctives to the sort of uncritical engagements which Li, cited at the beginning of this section, thought she saw in Indonesia. 34

The Developmental State and Asian Values

Neopatrimonialism and shadow state theory, especially the latter, are frequently associated with corruption and with failing states. These are not theories which are commonly associated with narratives of success and improvement. Another, much broader, literature looks at another form of state which also departs from mainstream development industry prescription, not least in its refusal to prioritise human rights, is that of the developmental state (Chung-In & Rashemi, 1994; nis, 1991), and especially the Asian Values developmental state which has centred around the arguments made by former Singapore president, Lee Kuan Yew (Barr, 2000; Dalton & Ong, 2005). The debates in this literature centre on the relationship between politics, the bureaucracy and the economy, with successful economies of East Asia and Southeast Asia providing the main empirical base for discussion. Debates typically centre around the relationship between authoritarian, leader-centred politics (which Cambodia has), well-functioning, dedicated professional bureaucracies (which Cambodia does not have) and successful economies (which, as we will see in Chapter 4, Cambodia has up to a point). In contrast to shadow state theory, the enigma at the centre of developmental state theoretical discussions relates to why the state does not become predatory:
Why should the state, given its autonomy, strength and capacity, choose a benign or developmental rather than predatory course of action? States such as Zaire leverage their strength to rob their society. Why are South Korea and Taiwan not motivated to do the same? Why do they confound neo-utilitarian expectations? (Chung-In & Rashemi, 1994, p. 371)

What we take from these contrasting theories for this thesis is the fact that elite political projects may be developmental or they may be predatory. Or they may, indeed, be a complex and shifting combination of the two. Furthermore, because they may be planned and executed in ways that are partly or wholly clandestine it may be difficult to judge what dynamics and motivations are driving behind-the-scenes state agendas. In Chapter 4 we will see in more detail how the shadow and the developmental aspects of the Cambodian state co-exist. It is beyond the scope of this thesis to turn the spotlight on elite politics in Cambodia and to try and identify signs of whether it is essentially developmental or shadow, or to what extent there is flux. As an indication that both are powerfully present I will use the term shadow/developmental state in order to refer to the informal elite politics and its interaction with the informal economy which dominate much of Cambodian governance and which find little place in official policies and legislation. 2.3.3 Uneven Landscapes of Rural Southeast Asia This whistle-stop tour of selected theories that inform the journeys that development interventions take has begun in the western development industry, has 1) begun with incentives and compulusions in core/donor countries, 2) reflected on the nature of the host nation government a key gatekeeper on the journey and now 3) finishes in the local setting, in the lives and livelihoods of the people who are scheduled to benefit. The focus here will be on debates about what defines and shapes livelihoods in rural Southeast Asia. First, though, a brief note on how livelihoods are conceptualised here. Conceptualising Livelihoods

One strand of development practice literature has sought to ensure that the perspectives of the poor are given priority. Robert Chambers was at the fore in this, especially with his book


Rural Development: Putting the Last First (Chambers, 1983)25. This perspective generated two major strands of practitioner literature, one devoted to Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), and another to Sustainable Livelihoods. The sustainable livelihood approach was intended to enable analyses of individual or household situations which supported understanding of peoples situation and their agency. In its rural iterations this led to a sustainable livelihood framework which located the individual/household in a vulnerability context endowed each individual/household with various capitals, and postulating them as having livelihood choices which could be simplified to variations on intensification, diversification and migration. The approach embedded in this literature has much in common with the critical aim of this thesis of avoiding the systematic and persistent misrepresentations exemplified in the 1990s studies:
The aim is to do away with pre-conceptions about what exactly rural people are seeking and how they are most likely to achieve their goals, and to develop an accurate and dynamic picture of them in their environment (Carney, 1999).

The sustainable livelihood framework has some significant limitations. One is that it provides such a broad agenda that as a researcher it does not help one to prioritise any particular variables, but rather tries to sum up every conceivable factor at every conceivable scale which might influence how a household gets by (Scoones, 1998, p. 13). Another is that the framing up of household endowments as capitals seems to both assign people the wrong class position and to make static what are in practice highly dynamic and relational endowments (Murray, 2001, p. 7). For the purpose of this thesis, my concept of livelihoods relies centrally on incomes (including non-monetary incomes). More specifically it focuses on the make-up of households/individuals everyday incomes; the coping strategies that households/individuals have if there is an economic shock to their everyday income/expenditure balance; the aspirations they have for the future incomes for themselves and for their children. This concern with crises and with intergenerational issues what authors refer to when they discuss sustainable livelihoods (Chambers & Conway, 1992, pp. 15-18). Understanding about the political economy/political ecology/immanent development context is then accessed via questions about the factors which constrain or enable livelihoods (ie current and future incomes). With this conceptualisation in mind we turn to some discussions which seek to identify trends and determining factors in rural livelihoods in Southeast Asia. Agriculture and Agrarian Transitions

Mainstream theories of national development suggest that national development tends to follow a phased process with agricultural development preceding industrial development (e.g. ADB, 2000, pp. 13-19; Timmer, 2006). Surplus labour from the countryside is postulated as a necessary factor to enable capitalism to be driven from urban concentrations. Rostows stages of growth and Lewiss dual sector model, were the classic statements of this argument and it continues to have purchase today: a recent Swedish study of Cambodias economic situation was framed in explicitly Rostovian terms (Sjberg & Sjholm, 2007). This version of the agrarian transition, and its development policy implications remain firmly within the mainstream; Bezemer and Headey (2008), for example, argue that industrial transformation has always been preceded by agricultural transformation, and further argue that agricultural

This was one of two development books which I carried with me to Cambodia in 1991. The other was Hancocks (1989) Lords of Poverty.


transformation is necessarily dependent on state intervention, arguing that no agricultural transformation has ever occurred without extensive and effective state support programs (Bezemer & Headey, 2008, p. 1346). In this tradition, much scholarly attention is given to the conditions that are required to stimulate the sort of agricultural development/agrarian transition that is required to stimulate national development. Within this, debates about the role of farm size and land policy have been central. James Putzel (2000) has argued that one of the main lessons to be learned from 20th century history in Asia was that redistributive land reform works, and that in situations of capital scarcity and labour surplus there is an inverse relationship between the size of farm and the productivity of land and labour in agriculture (Putzel, 2000, p. 3). Specifically he argued that successful development in South Korea and Taiwan, and then in China and Vietnam had been squarely founded on land reform policies that both stimulated economic growth and enabled political stability. Hayami (2001) explained regional variation in the agricultural development in post-war Southeast Asian economies in terms of the modes of production that had dominated in key historical moments when hitherto unused natural resources on empty land suddenly acquire a market value when exposed to international trade thereby enabling these unused resources to be the basis for economic growth (Hayami, 2001, p. 178). Essentially he argued that Thai agriculture had outperformed Indonesia and the Philippines because it had an almost entirely smallholder economy. Indonesian agriculture, furthermore, had outperformed the Philippines because it had more smallholders and fewer plantations. In Hayamis view all crops typically considered plantation crops were actually farmed as smallholder crops somewhere, and that the vertical integration and coordination required for competitiveness could be supplied far more efficiently through systems of contract farming. Plantation agriculture, he argued, has occurred not because it was economically optimal, but because it was a means by which colonialists could pre-empt large areas of unused, or apparently unused, land. Crucially for the arguments in this thesis, it was unfolding historical events rather than the pulling of policy levers at national level that had shaped these uneven developments. Attempts at land reform in the Philippines had worsened agricultural productivity because of what Hayami terms the dilemma of land reform. Attempts at reform were restricted to the subsistence sector, but because the threat of reform also hangs over the cash crop sector, plantation owners have limited their investments in agriculture. Similarly, in the smallholder sector, beneficiaries of the land reform were reluctant to hire out their land (as they might for example in Indonesia) for fear that tenants might also acquire rights over that land under the terms of the reform. In this frame of thinking (narrowly exemplified by these two contributions from Putzel and Hayami) then, agriculture is central to national development, farm size is central to the demographic structure and economic incentives required to drive agricultural development, and state policies (intentional development) may be key in determining appropriate farm size. However, these cannot simply override considerations of political economy and small d development. Decoupling and Deagrarianisation in Southeast Asian Landscapes

Analyses of rural development which blur the distinctions between rural and urban and disrupt the more linear agrarian transition framings have been present in Southeast Asia scholarship for some time (e.g. Rigg, 2001). It has been argued that important trends have 37

included a de-linking of rural development from agricultural development, and a consequent de-linking of land holding from wealth, have rendered standard rural development policy staples such as land reform and agricultural improvement less relevant and effective (Rigg, 2006)26. A recently published study in northeast Thailand (Rigg & Salamanca, 2009) spanned twenty-five years in two villages, and citing other research in villages in Northeastern Thailand found strongly in favour of the de-agrarianisation thesis. This not only challenged the linear, agriculture-driven development models, but also models that argue that Thailand has been a case of dependent industrialisation and peripheral marginalisation. Rigg and Salamanca (Rigg & Salamanca, 2009, pp. 265-266) used the example of an apparently increasingly vulnerable and impoverished 58-year old widow, in poor health, who had sold much of her land to pay hospital bills with one of her two sons having died, one having moved to another village and her only daughter having married and moved to Bangkok. In the village she was also classified as close to poor in wealth ranking exercises. However, her livelihood was in fact relatively secure. She took care of her daughters two children and received about 100 USD per month remitted from her daughter (a garment factory worker) and son-in-law (a taxi driver). The point here was not that there had been a decisive or permanent improvement in the rural economy, but rather that risk and vulnerability have been re-shaped in significant ways and that the parameters of these changes are clear ... the shift from farm to non-farm, from local to extra-local, from community to state and from social to economic (Rigg & Salamanca, 2009, p. 265). Meanwhile, the misrepresentation identified with the 1990s studies in the introduction to this thesis appeared to be alive and well in the late 2000s:
It is striking how far scholars, development practitioners and government officials still rehearse the script of Northeast Thai villages being poor, farming dependent and isolated (Rigg & Salamanca, 2009, p. 266).

Recent work in the de-agrarianisation tradition, encompassing studies from Asia and Africa, has focused on studies of frontiers. In this context, a frontier is a particularly dynamic space where the forces of economic, demographic and social change are brought to bear (Agergaard, Fold, & Gough, 2010, p. 1), and these frontiers are regions where linkages to global markets are dominated by one particular product (coffee, pineapples, gold etc) or a number of similar products (handicrafts, fresh fruit) although the concept also encompasses the more diverse manufacturing frontier in Thailand (Fold, Gough, & Agergaard, 2010, p. 198). Reviewing case studies of rural manufacturing and handicraft frontiers, Gough and Rigg (2010, p. 156) found the non-farm sector developing dynamics which were increasingly shaped by non-local markets and raw material sourcing rather than local resources. Agriculture did not usually benefit from increased investment and even tended to become more extensive as human resources and financial investment were attracted into handicrafts and manufacturing, which even became a magnet for low-skilled migrant labour (Rigg, Veeravongs, Rohitarachoon, & Veeravongs, 2010, p. 137). At least in the case of the Thai manufacturing frontier (Rigg et al., 2010, pp. 146-147), it seemed that the success of the manufacturing sector meant that the local economy was able to be successfully re-constructed without requiring the degree of out-migration and remittance livelihoods that have been characteristic of much of the shift towards de-agrarianised rural development. A region that had formerly been Thailands rice bowl had become not a labour reserve, but rather a site of


Whilst Rigg in that article was reaching out from Southeast Asia experience to look for empirical evidence of comparable trends in South Asia and Africa, scholars such as Ellis (1998) and Bryceson (2006) were developing similar perspectives on the basis of studies of livelihoods in rural Africa.


industrialisation and metropolitanisation with a population whose livelihoods were delinked from the land and coupled to remote sites in the wider economy (Rigg et al., 2010, p. 148). Meanwhile, in the agricultural frontiers, even in areas where agricultural was most successful, more people tended to be employed in services and trade (Fold & Tacoli, 2010, p. 96). Fold and Tacoli, summarising the case studies in agricultural frontiers described a continuum from mono-location and mono-activity to multi-activity and multi-location. In contrast to the literature on agricultural development and agrarian transitions which Putzel and Hayami exemplified, the recent work on rural-urban dynamics is not readily translated into a narrative of national development. Fold, Gough and Agergaard (2010, p. 201) explain that national rural-urban dynamics cannot be read off from their studies of frontiers. Their frontier regions are primarily sub-national phenomena, oriented around complex dynamics between local production and global markets. For them, the study of frontiers tends more to structuring a simple bipartite division of rural-urban dynamics in the context of national development, namely into hinterland areas and areas which are resource rich (Fold et al., 2010, p. 200). Once again, then, as with the references to Uneven Development (Harvey, 2006; Smith, 2008) and Fergusons (2005) Seeing Like an Oil Company, rural space becomes conceptualised as a patchwork featuring resource rich sites of accumulation and less endowed hinterland areas. The analytical lesson from a case study point of view is that conclusions about what a case represents should be drawn with reference not to a generalised national rural space, but rather in relation to the mix of interdependencies and independencies in the array of variously endowed and positioned frontiers and hinterlands.27 Agrarian Change and Resistance

Resistance has been a central theme in the politics of rural Southeast Asia, whether related to the (successful) opposition to collectivised agriculture (Kerkvliet, 1995), or in opposition to the rolling out of the Green Revolution (Scott, 1985). This is not least because of the limited successes of Southeast Asias rural poor when they have acted politically in acts of overt resistance or rebellion (Scott, 1977). The findings of studies of rural-urban dynamics in the frontiers and hinterlands of Southeast Asia might almost suggest that there is little reason for resistance, given the overall trajectories of change:
Factors such as the further development of frontier regions, technological innovations, agricultural intensification and off-farm migration have at a broad scale reduced the precariousness of rural life (Turner & Caouette, 2009, p. 13)

Such a position would be supported by Walkers analysis of the impacts of contract farming in Northern Thailand, where he found that notwithstanding various complaints by farmers that contract farming offered a reduction of risk and therefore of agricultural indebtedness and had resulted in an engagement which he characterised as experimental rather than resistant (Walker, 2009, pp. 76-78). It might also be noted that the hidden transcripts of the rural poor do not always find place in either public transcripts or acts of resistance. It is still possible for people and their ideas to be marginalised. In my years in rural Cambodia discussions with farmers about potentials for

In the authors words attention should be paid to the selection of different regions with distinctive positions in the national development process (including, for example labour reserve regions, resource-poor regions, and geographically isolated regions) before conducting analysis on livelihood diversification, mobility and settlement transformation. (Fold et al., 2010, p. 201).


agricultural development frequently ended in suggestions that included the creation of state marketing boards to guarantee prices for their produce, and the introduction of import bans to prevent cheap produce from Thailand and Vietnam coming into the domestic Cambodian market. Such views, however, find little voice in the various participatory processes to define either donor assistance strategies or national policies. A rural scene with relatively few broad-based political movements (Borras, 2009, p. 19) and with complaining voices both mollified by the effects of relative prosperity and muted by the lack of effective outlets may be a feature of a time that is coming to a close. Turner and Caouette saw concerns about massive poverty and unemployment in rural Southeast Asia in the 1970s as having been deferred rather than avoided. Certainly theories of Uneven Development would encourage one to see the benefits of the past couple of decades as contingent and precarious, with the possibility of economic crisis generating destructive impacts throughout the now highly-integrated and interdependent rural landscapes of Southeast Asia:
In some locales, the proliferation of wage labour along with the agrarian transition has resulted in increased dispossession and marginalization, especially of smaller landowners and agricultural workers. In other sites, there has been increased economic growth, with people able to form new and increasingly sustainable livelihoods. Such divergent outcomes have even occurred between village neighbours due to the progressively more individualized consequences of the agrarian transition (Turner & Caouette, 2009) .

2.3.4 Fraught Journeys Recapitulated This three-stop selective tour of the travel of development intervention from western origins to Southeast Asian landscapes highlights some of the contradictions and contingencies involved in interventions by the western development industry. It suggests that there are strong reasons for having a critical approach in the sense of being sceptical of any intervention that is framed as a well-intentioned, technical, win-win solution to problems jointly identified and jointly addressed by host country governments acting in harmonious concert with development industry actors. It also suggests that what we might term a rural caricature, present in the 1990s case studies in Chapter 1, remains a feature of development in the late 2000s. Having reflected critically on the long and uncertain journeys that development interventions in general represent, attention will now focus on the theories that underpin the particular sorts of intervention property rights interventions in the form of land titling and community forestry that are the focus of the cases in this thesis.


Property Rights Theory and Interventions

2.4.1 Introduction
Commerce and manufactures can seldom flourish long in any state which does not enjoy a regular administration of justice, in which the people do not feel themselves secure in the possession of their property, in which the faith of contracts is not supported by law, and in which the authority of the state is not supposed to be regularly employed in enforcing the payment of debts from all those who are able to pay (Adam Smith, "The Wealth of Nations" cited in Rodrik et al., 2002).

Property rights have long had a prominent place in arguments over the pre-requisites for growth and development. In recent debates about factors which best explain development Rodrik has been a champion of institutions as opposed to geography or trade integration (Rodrik et al., 2002). However, he has been critical of the way in which: 40

institutions rule has sometimes been interpreted as a form of property rights reductionism one that views the formal institutions of property rights protection as the end-all of development policy (Rodrik, 2004, p. 1).

This section will examine the theoretical underpinnings of the interventions studied in this thesis individual private property rights theory for systematic land titling and common property rights theory for community forestry. It will also review literature on these styles of intervention, both the rational policy literature which enquires into the relations between intention and outcome and what has been learned about the conditions required for successful policy outcomes, and also literature that has a more discursive and political approach and that better captures what actually happens in the policy process (Blaikie, 2006, p. 1047). First, however, brief attention is paid to defining property rights. 2.4.2 Property Rights Definitions Bromley (2006, pp. 479-480) defines property rights by separating the concept of property and that of rights28. Property is not an object, but is, instead, a stream of benefits (values) into the future, with the concept of ownership being related to the control of a benefit stream arising from the setting and circumstance that is the property relation. A right, meanwhile, is understood as dependent on an enforced duty. The duty is for those who do not have rights to not interfere with the interests of those who do have rights. The enforcement of rights then requires enforcement by an authority or an authority system which is willing and able to impose sanctions on those who do not fulfil their duties. Bromley stresses that this need not be a state or government as understood in the industrialised economies, but might instead by a traditional leader. The distinction between different sorts of authority to enforce rights and duties in relation to property is highlighted by Schlager and Ostrom (1992, p. 254) when they draw a distinction between de jure and de facto rights. De jure rights are given lawful recognition by formal, legal instrumentalities, whereas de facto rights arise when resource users cooperate to define and enforce rights among themselves. Schlager and Ostrom make two points in relation to these. First, that they are not an either/or pairing: de jure and de facto rights may overlap, complement, or even conflict with one another, and second, that for a user there is no qualitative difference between the two sets of rights unless the de facto rights are challenged in an administrative setting. The distinction between de jure and de facto rights might invite the idea that there is a latent potential for any given de facto right to be made de jure through the simple measure of formalising it. The term legal pluralism has, however, been termed by authors who suggest that there is a need to be attentive to multiple legal orders such as state, customary, religious, project and local laws, all of which provide bases for claiming property rights and that:
Instead of looking for clearly defined rules within a single, coherent legal system, it is more useful to recognize the ambiguity of rules, and the multiplicity of legal systems. This ambiguity and pluralism gives scope for human agency, through forum shopping and adapting rules in the concretization of rights. Such agency is critical for dealing with uncertainties that arise from environmental fluctuations, livelihood changes, social and political upheavals, and other sources (Meinzen-Dick & Pradhan, 2002, p. 27).


My friend and former colleague Shaun Williams has pointed out to me that property is a form of right, and that the term property rights is thus an oxymoron. This is surely correct, but given the prominence of the term property rights in the mainstream, including much of the literature I have cited, and in the absence of an elegant alternative, I have let it stand.


This, we may be sure, is not what Adam Smith (cited above) had in mind when he wrote of the importance of the state securing property rights in order to facilitate economic development. On the other hand, if property rights are about a quest for security and control, the legal plurality and forum shopping concepts possibly serve to illustrate the fact that making secure is not always within the reach of policy makers:
In general, legal pluralism calls for greater humility in policies and programs. It is not just a matter of getting the right law or the right institution to allocate or manage resources. Instead, rights to resources will be determined through messy, dynamic processes (MeinzenDick & Pradhan, 2002, pp. 28-29).

Having adopted Bromleys definition of property rights, we might also note his argument (Daniel W Bromley, 2006, pp. 481-482) that there are two common assertions which connect property rights and development in policy discussions: 1. Economic development is impeded by the lack of property rights 2. Natural resource degradation in the developing world persists because of insecure property rights. He warns that neither of these assertions is adequately supported by empirical evidence. They do of course represent the core claims of the respective interventions that are examined in this thesis. Systematic land titling aims to stimulate economic development by providing individualised, exclusive property rights via land registration and the issuance of title. Community forestry aims to prevent natural resource degradation by providing communities with rights over forest: the remainder of this section continues to investigate this apparent paradox. Why would an assertion that is unsupported by evidence nevertheless be persistently asserted in policy circles? 2.4.3 Theoretical Justifications for Land Titling If farmers are secure in the ownership of their land, they will dare to invest in it, which they would not dare to do if they were worried it would be taken from them. If people have title to land, they can then use that title as collateral to obtain loans which would not previously have been available to them, and then to invest either in improving the land or in other productive activity. If all property is titled, then buyers and sellers will be confident to transact land, thereby enabling a functioning land market which will allocate land to the most efficient farmers. This set of three justifications constitute the core of the theoretical argument that has long underpinned the promotion of land titling programmes (see Daley & Hobley, 2005, pp. 204-205; Deininger, 2003; Feder & Feeney, 1993; Feder & Nishio, 1998, pp. 26-28; Heltberg, 2002, pp. 204-205). A further motivation, less commonly at the fore of international proponents of titling, but one which has been argued to be a historically dominant motive for national adoption of titling programmes, is that land registration provides the government with the basis for revenue-raising by means of a land tax. (Feeny 1988 cited in Heltberg, 2002). A final benefit which may be added relates to social costs of land conflicts: it may be anticipated that a programme to title all land, whilst generating increased conflict during the period of implementation, will potentially lead to clarity and resolution and therefore save on the social and economic costs of conflicts and appropriations that persisted prior to titling. It has been suggested that this might particularly benefit the most poor and vulnerable (Trhnen, 2001). Regarding the three principle justifications for titling, each of these has been stressed to different degrees and for different reasons in different contexts. For many the impulse to title is first and foremost about facilitating land markets (Barnes, 2003, p. 367; K. A. Gould, Carter, & Shrestha, 2006). The assumption here is that the market is a far better and more 42

efficient distributor of land than the state, ensuring not only that the most efficient farmers (those who are assumed to make most profits from farming and then to invest those profits in expanding their holdings) receive most land, but also that the most efficient farm size will be achieved (farms that are smaller or larger than the optimum will lose out in competition with optimally sized farms and will either be combined or sub-divided until they are optimally competitive). Because the efficiency of land markets is often assumed, the focus when evaluating titling has often been limited to whether the market is active or not (and not on the results of its allocations) with increased transaction volume and increased land prices are held to be sufficient indicators of the benefits of titling (Feder & Nishio, 1998, p. 40), although this assumption has not gone unchallenged (D. Mitchell, Clarke, & Baxter, 2008, p. 472) . The argument that systematic land titling improves security and therefore leads to investment and increased productivity is coupled to the idea of a strengthened, stabilised rural sector. In Cambodia, for example, it has been suggested that enabling security of tenure and increased investment would provide the impetus for smallholder farming to become the third engine of national economic growth after garments and tourism (World Bank, 2006, 2007b). While not necessarily in conflict with the aim of facilitating the land market, there is some tension between the images evoked: the one of land changing hands and with the prospect of a surplus population seeking their comparative advantage elsewhere having sold up in the dynamics of the agrarian transition; the other an essentially conservative vision of farming households remaining in place but becoming securer, more productive and more prosperous. Even convinced advocates of land titling programmes have not suggested that they are appropriate in all situations:
If it is not clear whether the key factors for the economic viability of land registration systems are present, it may not be an opportune time for the government to invest in land registration. The society would benefit more from other types of investment ,which address more binding constraints to its economic development (Feder & Nishio, 1998, p. 38)

Or (in the context of a sceptical review of De Sotos work):

Titling must be followed by a series of politically challenging steps. Improving the efficiency of judicial systems, re-writing bankruptcy codes, restructuring financial market regulations and similar reforms will involve much more difficult choices for policy makers. These are swept under the rug in the text of The Mystery of Capital (Woodruff, 2001, pp. 1222-1223).

For each of the main three postulated benefits, a set of complementary functioning institutions is required: tenure security requires that a legitimate authority (courts or their equivalent) will enforce and sanction the property rights inscribed in the title; collateralisation requires that there is a well-functioning financial market so that the new demand for credit can be supplied; a functioning land market requires that the land administration authorities are efficient, affordable and accessible to buyers and sellers (Feder & Nishio, 1998, p. 37). It is the lack of complementary institutional arrangements that prompts scholars to doubt whether the theoretical benefits of titling can in fact be realised in, for example, transition economies (Ho & Spoor, 2006, p. 586) The functioning of these institutions post-titling must be compared with the situation prior to titling. It is possible that even without the land registration apparatus, and possibly without the involvement of formal authorities and credit institutions, that tenure might be secured, credit obtained and market transactions guaranteed by means of informal authorities. Such a situation would, paradoxically, solve most of the potential implementation problems that relate to titling interventions, but would at the same time rob them of their potential to add value. 43

2.4.4 Theoretical Critiques of Land Titling The De Soto Factor

During the past decade, largely as a result of the prominence achieved by Hernando de Sotos (2000) The Mystery of Capital, it is the second theoretical potential of titling, to enable increased access to credit, that has received most attention. Highly popular in political and policy circles whilst at the same time often criticised heavily in academic circles (Gilbert, 2002, p. 2; T. Mitchell, 2004, p. 5; Payne, Durand-Lasserve, & Radoki, 2009, p. 445; Woodruff, 2001, p. 1215), de Soto (2000) argued that the reason some economies had successfully developed, or, in his terms, that capitalism had only succeeded in the west, was that individual property rights were formally secured in the west and not elsewhere. Formal title, he argued, had enabled loans to be leveraged against assets which otherwise were dead capital. In poor countries, and especially in the informal urban settlements in Latin America which is where he began his research career, his findings were that poor people did not lack assets, but that these assets were held in defective forms. If their informal residences could be securely titled then they would be able to raise financial capital and further exploit the business skills which he found them already to possess in abundance in the informal economy. Counterarguments to this thesis have abounded. To the extent that arguments for land titling are increasingly taking their theoretical departure point from the work of de Soto29, there has been criticism of the historical validity of the case that he makes. Mitchell (2004, p. 25) has suggested that the focus on documentation is misplaced. He points out that there has been a traditional mistrust of documents in the west (there being, for example, no title document in either British or US systems), and that what counts is not paper representations but extent of control. To select from the tip of the iceberg of criticisms of de Sotos reasoning, methods and findings, Mitchell (2004, p. 11) has pointed out that most homeowners in the West do not collateralise their domestic properties in order to obtain business loans, but rather go into debt in order to purchase the property in the first place; most of the 40%-70% of the population in the West are homeowners do not completely own their homes because they are mortgaged and not yet paid for. Gilbert, meanwhile, cites his own research and reviews other studies suggesting that titling has not made a difference to the ability of people in urban settlements to obtain formal credit, and furthermore that most poor people would rather not seek credit because repaying a loan is a burden that may endanger the households whole financial viability (Gilbert, 2002, p. 17). The heavy weight of academic critique notwithstanding, de Sotos work has furthered the promotion of titling as a development strategy and of collateralisation as a justification for that strategy, not just in urban Latin America but in urban and rural settings around the globe (Alden Wily, 2008, p. 43). Markets are not benevolent

Collateralising land and transforming it into a tradable commodity are both double-edged swords. If land is used as collateral for a business loan and the business fails, the land is lost. If land can now be more easily sold as a commodity, then poor people will be more vulnerable to losing it at low prices when their circumstances become difficult (Cousins, 2009, p. 897).


This is surprisingly widespread as even serious scholars such as Deininger whose engagements with the topic are longer, more scientifically grounded and nuanced, use reference to de Soto to justify the claim of a theoretical benefit from land titling in the form of improved access to credit (Deininger, Ali, & Alemu, 2009, p. 5).


Mitchell, not entirely at ease with the conceptualisation of the informal sector and the assets lying outside capitalism, also sees any change wrought by titling as exposing poor people to unequal competition within the formal market arena:
The movement of assets from what is called the outside to the inside does offer a means to create wealth. But not in the way De Soto describes. The process of property titling and the use of property as collateral offer up opportunities for speculation, for the concentrating of wealth, and for the accumulation of rents (T. Mitchell, 2004, p. 27).

Christophers (2010) meanwhile, drawing inspiration from David Harvey (Harvey, 1973, 1982), takes issue with the idea that it is possible to separate property as financial capital (realisable by collateralising an asset) from its physical manifestation. This is in direct contradiction to de Sotos encouragement to conceptualise property less as its physical manifestation and more in terms of its legal function, and hence as a form of representation (Christophers, 2010, p. 103). What this theoretical argument comes down to, is that at all scales, household, national and global, the analytical separation (what Christophers terms the mystification of voodoo economics) of financial capital from its material manifestation will inevitably, somewhere, constitute not a win-win but a zero-sum scenario, and there will be losers:
Any apparent economic growth located in the property rental market must ultimately be grounded in, and sustained by, growth in the real economy of productive activity. If such growth is not occurring, and surplus value is not being generated, the notional growth delivered by the landlord class must eventually come crashing back to earth (Christophers, 2010, p. 106).

Bromley, (2009) has argued that the priority for poor people is employment: as such he viewed the advocacy for formal titles as cultural imperialism and an example of the persistent quest for ideational hegemony (2009, p. 6). Tenure is not always reducible to simple formal ownership

As we will see in the common property literature, even where tenure is not essentially communal often several layers of interest in property are recognised as legitimate (Benjaminsen, Holden, Lund, & Sjaastad, 2009, p. 34). Two issues coincide here and both provide theoretical grounds for challenging registration of ownership as a policy intervention. The first is the impossibility of reducing to a single category of exclusive ownership complex bundles of rights to property where different people have different rights over land at different times of the year. The second relates to the idea that tenure systems evolve over time as a result of a number of (highly contested) variables including demographic change, relative factor prices, the cost of providing and enforcing private title, agricultural commercialisation and trade, available technology, (Heltberg, 2002, p. 199). Partly, as Heltberg discusses, these debates over the way in which tenure systems evolve has focused around discussions of the validity of Boserups (1965) proposition (both neo-Malthusian and anti-Malthusian) that increased population would drive technical development and agricultural intensification. Recent work in Africa describes an alternative historical trajectory. Chauveau and Colin (2007, p. 66) make a definitional distinction between traditional tutorat forms of exchange in which land transfers are embedded within a broader socio-political relationship and entail a continuing duty of gratitude and of allegiance toward the customary land holders and sales which are monetarised deals that do not entail a continuing relationship once the transaction is completed. They portray a long-term transition from a situation of labour scarcity to a situation of land scarcity has seen a transition in forms of property rights. This has largely 45

(though with variation within and between countries and a great deal of hybridisation between older and newer property regimes) been a transition towards more private, individualised exclusive forms of tenure. The point here, then, is that a titling programme is potentially capable of formalising a property rights regime that has achieved a point on its trajectory (or evolution in some discourses) where broader socio-political relationships have brought into being private, individualised tenure. The proposition that the simple fact of implementing a titling programme might shift tenure arrangements to that point is altogether more unlikely. Cousins makes a similar argument with regard to a general approach that prioritises bestowing formal legal rights, when these will not have leverage with substantial reality and argues that only civic activity (i.e. politics) can achieve these (Cousins, 2009, p. 906). Formalisation is biased against women

The potential gender bias of land titling interventions is as much an empirical issue as a theoretical one. To the extent that land titling is a process of formalising existing tenure arrangements, it may be unfair to women in that formal arrangements may tend to be highly biased towards men in comparison to customary or informal pre-titling arrangements. This has been found, for example, in the way a head of household has been designated as title holder in Latin American projects:
In the past, land titling projects granted titles in the name of the head of household, who was usually an adult male. This often undermined the tenure security that women had through the customary system that operated prior to titling (Barnes, 2003, p. 373).

On the other hand, when attempts were made to address this, for example through joint titling of conjugal property, this was often met by resistance from within existing dynamics, which also had their gender biases. Based on experience in Colombia and Nicaragua, strong rural womens organisations were found to be the most promising way to address the issue of protecting womens land and resource rights through titling (Barnes, 2003, p. 373). Case study evidence from Senegal and South Africa, meanwhile suggested that womens tenure security had been enhanced by being specified on ownership records (Payne, DurandLasserve, & Radoki, 2009, p. 447). 2.4.5 Empirical Evidence on Land Titling It is beyond the ambition of this thesis to provide a definitive and conclusive summary of findings relating to the claims made for and against land titling programmes. Broadly it might be said that they are both varied and contested. This section examines findings, primarily from recent reviews of the literature, in relation firstly to the main theoretical claims made for titling namely Impact on Security and Investment, Impact on Access to Credit, Impact on Land Markets, then on a range of significant secondary issues, Impact on Revenue Raising and Other Impacts and Implementation Issues. Finally, but of high importance given the arguments of this thesis, I examine observations in relation to the Spatial Distribution of Titling. Impact on Security and Investment

Deiningers (2003) research report for the World Bank on land policies for growth and poverty reduction found that while tenure security was strongly correlated with economic growth, that the relationship between formal land titling and tenure security could not be assumed (Deininger, 2003, p. 39). His understanding from the literature was that informal options might in many circumstances provide many of the tenure security benefits that are expected from land titling, but that formal titling became the preferable option in situations 46

where there was sufficient land administration capacity, and where land prices were sufficiently high (Deininger, 2003, p. 56). While stressing the importance of context in determining which land policies were appropriate, and noting mixed results in Africa, Deininger also gave Thailand as the case which most clearly demonstrated positive economic impacts (Deininger, 2003, p. 5). While the Thai project has been widely praised, Williams has suggested that it may be a case where successful implementation and output delivery has blinded judges to the lack of evidence on which to base claims of positive outcomes (S. Williams, 2003). Looking for evidence of the relationship between security and titling, Payne et al. (2009, p. 447) found that titling programmes have often been implemented where there is already de facto security. In places where there was insecurity they found the evidence of improvement surprisingly thin and mixed. Some risks associated with titling related to unequal information and involve speculation and acquisition of land at low prices in anticipation of price rises post titling. However, even when all actors are well informed, the anticipation of programmes has led in some cases to an intensification of conflicts, social unrest and insecurity (Benjaminsen et al., 2009, p. 31). Impact on Access to Credit

Deininger et al. (2009, p. 5) have recently and in passing - summarised the literature on the impact of titling on credit. They found the literature somewhat equivocal: some studies showing some positive effects, but others showing either no effect at all, or that only larger land owners had benefited. This ambivalence has long roots, and possibly reflects the lack of studies that specifically engage with the relation of titling to credit and adequately contextualise and explain findings. One of the more frequently cited studies by Feder and Onchan (1987) is referred to as both demonstrating that titling does improve access to credit (Deininger et al., 2009, p. 5) and that it does not do so (Daniel W. Bromley, 2009, p. 23). Payne et al. (2009, p. 455) are if anything less optimistic, finding that the literature suggests that titling has not (at least in the short term) generated any significant increase in access to formal credit. Their case study work in Senegal and South Africa, furthermore suggests that most loans taken out are for house improvement rather than as business loans, and that business development loans have not been secured against houses. Impact on Land Markets

Part of the key to the relationship between land titling and a functional land market is not the initial titling process itself, but the registration of subsequent transactions. In Latin America earlier experience had been that registering land and issuing title were insufficient to address land market issues, but that problems within the land departments responsible subsequent registration overly bureaucratic, costly, inaccessible, centralized, corrupt and not transparent to the users also needed to be addressed (Barnes, 2003, p. 369). This, whilst being a problem identified since the 1980s remained an area where the World Bank and USAID remained short of lessons (Barnes, 2003, p. 373). Payne et al. (2009, p. 453) in their review found that whilst the literature supported the claim that titling enhances the value of land, and that this is often in the order of a 25% rise, that this was not necessarily of benefit to the poor because:
...the lack of a formal title is a price that the urban poor pay to gain access to a residential plot that they could otherwise not afford. Of course, increases in land values are beneficial to owners planning to sell land, but they are less attractive to those seeking to acquire it as


average incomes do not increase at a similar rate to average urban land values (Payne et al., 2009, p. 453)

Increased land values have also had adverse knock-on effects in terms of reduced access by the poor to rental markets (Payne et al., 2009, p. 447). Impact on revenue raising and other secondary impacts

Whilst not always to the forefront of literature promoting the benefits of land titling, the preparation and maintenance of a land register can provide part of the basic infrastructure for the collection of land taxes. One of the intentions of the World Bank supported Thailand Land Titling Project was certainly that it should include a land valuation component which would enable government to use the land register as the basis for revenue raising. This was an intention that despite the best efforts and encouragements of project staff was never realised (Rattanabirabongse, Eddington, Burns, & Nettle, 1998, p. 13). One might speculate that two different agendas were in play here. The Bank might be imagined to have a self-interest in being able to demonstrate that loan repayments flowing out of a country are covered by the tangible revenues to the treasury generated by the project thereby eliminating any doubts as to whether the loan was (at the national scale) cost effective for the borrower. The Thai government, on the other hand, might be reluctant to risk its political capital by introducing unpopular new taxes. If development projects are conceptualised as somewhat long and uncertain journeys, the land valuation and revenue raising component of the Thai Land Titling Project may be seen as an example of a project component which was turned away at the threshold by the national gatekeeper. In this respect, the suggestion by the authors that the key lesson was a need to document the necessary commitment of all parties to the implementation of the project design (Rattanabirabongse et al., 1998, p. 15) is strongly reminiscent of the unrealistic control orientation and obliviousness to local political realities that Porter et al. (1991) found characterising international development practice in eastern Kenya twenty years previously. In a recent study, Deininger and colleagues reviewing the literature suggested that clear positive impacts of titling had been more associated with increased investment and increased land values in rural schemes, as well as reducing fertility, increasing investment in children and affecting governance, corruption and the performance of local institutions (Deininger et al., 2009, pp. 3-4). Implementation issues

Some of the literature reflects on issues relating to effective (or otherwise) implementation of land registration and titling. In Guyana, for example, titles were issued in blocks of 100 plots. If one title was delayed by a conflict then the whole block had to wait (Hendrix & Rockcliffe, 1998). Were lessons from glitches such as this learned during the preparation and implementation of land titling in Cambodia? Chapters 4 and 6 will answer that question. Meanwhile, the implementation literature also yields some unintended lessons about the relationship between operational imperatives and substantive results. Within the World Bank, the Thailand Land Titling Project, mentioned above, is regarded as an outstanding success; Rattanabirabongse and some of his colleagues and advisors on that project have written on the reasons for that success (Rattanabirabongse et al., 1998, p. 3). Some of their solutions, however, had implications for the substantive goals of the project. One implementation issue in the early phases of the Thailand project was that completion rate was affected by the fact that survey teams were not able to register parcels near forests. This was solved in later phases by the Royal Forest Department being brought in to define forest 48

boundaries before titling commenced, in order that the overall scope of titling was clear. Within adjudication areas a second problem was that completion rates were affected by the fact that not all people eligible for title actually completed the process of paying for and taking receipt of their titles once land had been registered. The solution to this problem was that the definition of complete titling was amended such that titling was considered complete when all plots had been registered, and where a plan was in place for dealing with any remaining non-issued titles. In terms of project efficiencies these lessons clearly had value (Rattanabirabongse et al., 1998, p. 18). However, for people with a claim to land deemed by the Forest Department to be inside forest, and for people who did not receive titles at the time as their neighbours, these solutions may have confirmed their exclusion from the benefits of titling, or at least made their struggles to obtain benefits much less visible. In a similar problem to the Thai forest example related to communal lands in Ethiopia; a risk that was prevented by identifying communal lands in a public and participatory process before titling (Deininger et al., 2009, p. 6). As always, it is difficult to discern much about the outcomes of conflicts between competing interests when they are glossed with participation (cf. Biddulph, 1996), however, this may indicate a development of a more contested if not less power-laden dynamic than simply inviting in the relevant state authority to, at one go, make and achieve its territorial claim. Spatial distribution of titling

Cambodias titling process resembles earlier processes also supported by the World Bank in Thailand and Indonesia. Williams has suggested that the main lessons that Indonesia learned from Thailand were ways to avoid complex tenurial situations, as well as complex land types such as forests, so as to be able to concentrate on reaching high production targets in noncontested areas (S. Williams, 2003, p. 8). In other words, the titling programme (intended to achieve security of tenure) was being implemented in areas where tenure security was not a problem (non-contested areas). Liz Alden Wily (2008), meanwhile made a similar point from the other side of the fence when she argued that instead registration of the rural commons should take priority:
The reason is simple; that it is these properties, not the family farm or house, that have been and remain today at most risk from involuntary loss and which represent losses with most real and potential jeopardy to the rights of the majority rural poor (Alden Wily, 2008, p. 48)

The introduction of communal property and community based management leads us into another area of theory-inspired policies and a literature replete with advocates and critiques and discussions of what is necessary or desirable in order to make policies effective. Before making that step, it is worth making one geographical point. Alden Wily was writing about Africa, and on the basis of vast experience on the African continent. She referred to two sorts of common land: one where communities exercised de jure or de facto customary tenure and another which referred to the millions of hectares of land designated state or public land but customarily understood as community property (Alden Wily, 2008, p. 43). From quite different perspectives, then, what both Williams and Alden Wily are pointing to is the possibility that in its spatial distribution, systematic land titling may tend to be implemented away from the places where the problem it is supposed to address is most present.


Discursive claims: why land-titling travels well as policy

Mitchells (2004) analysis of de Sotos success was that he had succeeded in generating a much more positive account of the resources and potential of the majority of the people of the global south. Cousins (2007), likewise notes the benevolent assumptions that a competitive market economy by its very nature generates win-win solutions. The suggestion that by means of a relatively simple administrative intervention that latent forces may be brought into harness may provide much of the explanation as to why de Soto in particular and titling in general have been so successful as policy simplifications or development myths. As we will see, similar arguments circulate in relation to common property rights as policy. 2.4.6 Theories of Common Property Rights The departure point for the literature on common property and the associated literature on community based natural resource management (CBNRM) is Hardins short (1968) article on The Tragedy of the Commons (Alden Wily, 2008, p. 43; Dietz, Ostrom, & Stern, 2003; Ostrom, 1999). The well-known and often-rehearsed element of Hardins argument was that rationally behaving herders would put too many animals on common grazing land leading to its overgrazing and degradation, even though they knew that this was the outcome: a form of prisoners dilemma on a larger scale with more actors. As a result, commons were not a sustainable form of land management for anything but very sparsely populated areas. Either state intervention (Hardins preference) or privatisation was required if the tragedy was to be avoided. From the point of view of common property and CBNRM theorists, the faulty assumption that Hardin made was that the herders would not communicate with each other and there would be no spontaneous social organisation in response to the threat of overgrazing. Hardin was not in fact describing a situation of common property, but rather an open access regime. Common property rights theory takes issue with the assumption that commons regimes are de facto open-access regimes:
The prediction that resource users are led inevitably to destroy CPRs is based on a model that assumes all individuals are selfish, norm-free and maximisers of short-run results. ... However, predictions based on this model are not supported in field research or in laboratory experiments in which individuals face a public good or CPR problem and are able to communicate, sanction one another, or make new rules (Ostrom, 1999, p. 279).

Common property theory takes into account the possibility that populations may take on some of the characteristics of a community, and that this may enable local institutions to develop which enable a more rational balancing of community and individual interests than that assumed in the tragedy scenario:
Simply enabling subjects to engage in face-to-face communication between decision rounds enables them to approach socially optimal harvesting levels rather than severely overharvesting the commons (Ostrom, 2007, p. 15183).

As we have seen, one of the criticisms of programmes of systematic land titling is that they deliver an individualised, exclusive ownership. Schlager and Ostrom (1992) encouraged a more disaggregated understanding of property rights in the context of common property regimes The conception of rights in common property rights (CPR) theory is typically more complex than that used in the theoretical literature on the benefits of land registration and 50

formalisation. Rather than one simple category of exclusive ownership, a hierarchy of rights is imagined (see Table 2-1) and these are conceptualised as bundles of rights (see Table 2-2).
Table 2-1: Hierarchy of Rights in Common Property Regimes

Right Access Withdrawal Management Exclusion Alienation

Defined as the right to... ...enter a defined physical property ...obtain the products of a resource (e.g. catch fish, appropriate water etc) ...regulate internal use patterns and transform the resource by making improvements ...determine who will have an access right, and how that right may be transferred ...the right to sell or lease either or both the above collective-choice rights

Source: Adapted from Schlager and Ostrom, 1992, p. 250-1

Table 2-2 Bundles of Property Rights Associated with Different Types of Rights-Holder

Hierarchy of Rights Access and withdrawal Management Exclusion Alienation

Owner X X X X

Proprietor X X X

Claimant X X

Authorised user X

Source: Schlager and Ostrom, 1992, p. 252

An empirical literature, revolving around the work of Ostrom, draws on real world cases and laboratory experiments in order to identify key variables and criteria for functioning common property regimes and commons management. A central theme in this literature is an insistence on the complexity of common property scenarios and, therefore, of the complexity of any institutional arrangements for common property management and of any intervention that intends to support such institutions. Ostrom has, throughout her career, rallied against simplifications (arguing that much policy discussion is so simplified that it constitutes metaphor) and panaceas. Furthermore, that the failure to acknowledge the complexity of institutional details has been particularly disastrous where communally owned forests in Third World countries have been nationalised (Ostrom, 1990, pp. 22-23). If the common property literature is framed as an enquiry into the circumstances in which some form of common property regime may be preferable to state ownership or private, individualised ownership (Ostrom, 1999, p. 279), of particular interest for this thesis are the conditions which this literature suggests as being important for an effective common property regime. Dietz et al. (2003, p. 1908) did not offer any clear definitive conditions but suggested that effective commons governance were easier to achieve when the following five conditions obtained: resources and resource use can be monitored; rates of change are moderate applies to resource, resource use, population, technology, economic and social conditions; frequent face to face communication and dense social networks among the community; outsiders can be excluded at low cost; users support effective monitoring and rule enforcement.


However, they also insisted that few settings in the world would be characterized by these features so that:
The challenge is to devise institutional arrangements that help to establish such conditions. Furthermore, given the dynamics of biophysical, socioeconomic and technical change, and the inevitability of humans devising ways to evade governance rules, that institutions must be capable of delivering adaptive governance. This is held to be particularly difficult in cases where challenges involve systems that are intrinsically global such as timber production for the world market, and where situations differentials in power within user groups or across scales allow some to ignore rules of commons use or to reshape the rules in their won interest, such as when global markets reshape demand for local resources (Dietz et al., 2003, pp. 1908-1909)

Agrawal (2007) has reviewed the relationship between forest management and the common property literature providing a more forest-oriented discussion of the conditions necessary for effective common property regimes (see Table 2-3).
Table 2-3: Analytical Framework and Agrawal's Observations on the Literature

Cluster of variables The resource system

The users

Institutional arrangements

External environment

Observations Key variables include size of the resource system, its boundaries, rate and predictability of benefits, ease of monitoring conditions. Notwithstanding priority assigned by Ostrom (2005) and others, biophysical properties of forests tend to be neglected in scholarship on forest-based commons. While, smaller, interdependent, relatively homogenous, well off and groups that are very forest dependent and do not suffer sudden shocks in their demand for forest resources are more likely to successfully create institutions that effectively regulate forest governance, cause-effect relations of particular variables are not linear or predictable whether the relationship between different measures of successful governance of commons, and group characteristics such as size, heterogeneity, interdependence, dependence on forests, and poverty is negative, positive, or curvilinear seems subject to a range of other contextual and mediating factors, not all of which are clearly understood. Rules that are easy to understand and enforce, locally devised, take into account differences in types of violations, help deal with conflicts, and help hold users and officials accountable are most likely to lead to effective governance. Although what that really means is difficult to understand and apply given the instabilities and breadth of terms, and the fact that there may be literally hundreds of thousands of rule combinations from which decision makers can choose Demographic, cultural, technological, market-related factors, the nature of state agencies, and the level of involvement of other actors and forces such as NGOs and international aid flows are issues to which those interested in deforestation have been more attentive than scholars of forest commons.

Source: Adapted from Agrawal (2007, p.118-125)

Whilst the institutional economics orientation of Ostrom and her collaborators has paid more attention to the structure of incentives required to enable effective institutional functioning, the issue of the origins of common property rights regimes and management systems is also important within the literature. For Alden Wily, for example, common property regimes are by definition customary and indigenous (Alden Wily, 2008, p. 45). From a policy point of view, this sets up the potential option of common property rights interventions as a 52

formalisation programme analogous to the formalisation of informal possession into formal legal tenure. In other words, that it might not entail engineering of incentives and building of new institutions, but rather be a matter of providing legal title and recognition for already existing processes. This shifts the discussion slightly, and, as we shall see, opens up debates around what a common property intervention consists of (introducing a new development or preserving an existing though dynamic institution), and around how the world of policy and intervention apprehends (represents/misrepresents) what is informal, local or indigenous. 2.4.7 Critiques of Common Property Rights Approaches While land titling programmes and the trend towards formalising individualised, private tenure have been criticised on ideological grounds, for incorporating people in economic relations which expose them to the vagaries of the market and the threat of dispossession, no comparable critique is made against common property rights (CPR) and related community based natural resource management (CBNRM) approaches. Scrupulously set within a context of alternatives that include state and private individualised tenure and management, and paying attention to natural science, economics and broader social science concerns the CPR/CBNRM agenda is not typically regarded as carrying any particular ideological load either as a project of the left or of the right. Critiques of CPR/CBNRM tend to nod respectfully at the theoretical grounds (Blaikie, 2006, p. 1952), but protest at the way these are mobilised in discourses which pay insufficient attention to either actual livelihoods or political economy/ecology settings. Blaikie sees this as a global tendency and ascribes it to precisely the sort of simplifications that Ostrom has repeatedly set out to counter in scientific work, but which have a particular resilience in policy circles as, for example, Roe has argued in his book on policy narratives and meta-narratives:
Stories commonly used in describing and analyzing policy issues are a force in themselves, and must be considered explicitly in assessing policy options. Further, these stories often resist change or modification even in the presence of contradicting empirical data, because they continue to underwrite and stabilize the assumptions for decision making in the face of high uncertainty, complexity and polarization (Roe, 1994, p. 2 cited in Blaikie 2006, p1947).

This tendency for CPR/CBNRM narratives to succeed at policy level has often led to CPR/CBNRM being promoted and implemented in places where they are ill-matched to the livelihoods and political ecology settings. This tendency is exacerbated by a tendency to focus on local institional arrangements rather than broader political ecology contexts (the continuing and nearly single-minded concentration of commons scholarship on institutions and property rights as Agrawal, 2007 p.129 expressed it) Walker (2004, p. 312) coined the term arborealisation to describe the way in which community forestry discourses recast upland livelihoods as forest livelihoods. He argued that this misrepresented both the main livelihood activities of the forest-dwelling poor, which were primarily agricultural and not Non-timber Forest Product (NTFP) oriented, and also the main forms of tenure, which in relation to agricultural land were private possession rights to individual plots. Walker included four elements of misrepresentation in arborealisation, as people were framed as: essentially non-commercial (so even where commercial activities are acknowledged they are classified as non-authentic); shifting cultivators; NTFP gatherers and culturally disposed to be such; dependent on environmental services from forests. These elements of misrepresentation were maintained in spite of lack of evidence to support them, and even clear evidence to contradict them (Walker, 2004, pp. 313-315). These might be said to comprise a forest caricature similar to the rural caricature first encountered in the 1990s studies in Chapter 1, and found by Rigg et al. (2010) to still be in circulation in the late 2000s. 53

Casting the net a little wider in Southeast Asia, Tania Murray Li has reviewed experience in Philippines and Indonesia and concluded that the forest-dwelling, resource-conserving, traditional indigenous uplanders who serve as exemplars or embodiments of CBNRM are relatively rare on the upland scene (Li, 2002, p. 267). She found that this contrasted starkly with the realities of upland livelihoods, which have long-since and irreversibly been transformed, largely by smallholder initiatives, to an intensive, sedentary, cash-crop orientation (Li, 2002, p. 269). She furthermore, again in ways that mirror Walkers observations in Thailand, found that CBNRM discourses were mobilised by donor-driven conservation campaigns aiming to resist the expansion of oil palm production, whilst the interests of villagers would have been better served by improving the terms on which villagers could deal with plantations (Li, 2002, p. 272). At the same time, she found that, not necessarily by conscious and deliberate design, and still at the same time as potentially opening up opportunities for dialogue and resistance, community forestry also to some degree extended State control over communities and forests. Communities were allocated only land which is already denuded of trees and extracts from them cheap labor in reforestation and protection (Li, 2002, p. 274), while more valuable land was allocated to logging or plantations as economic concessions. Continuing the theme of misrepresentation Li argued, referencing Peluso, that CBNRM rhetoric in Indonesia:
Tends to locate the essence of community in a pre-colonial past and then truncate the time frame such that autonomous communities are assumed to have persisted throughout the colonial and postcolonial period, up to the time of intensified logging beginning in the 1960s (Li, 2002, p. 276).

In relation to the notion that CBNRM might empower communities in relation to the state she argued that communities should be imagined within the state rather than in opposition to it30, and that:
Where citizens are indeed up against vicious states, the potential of CBNRM to empower them is very limited (Li, 2002, p. 278).

While Murray Lis, Blaikies and Walkers critiques of CBNRM speak to the dangers of policy simplifications and incapacity to engage with the realities of local livelihoods and political ecology, they also raise the question of policy intention. While common property rights theories envisage benefits for both communities and the survival of commons resources, the impulse for their implementation might be more one-sided. Specifically, whether it is international conservation agencies seeking traction over resources in distant places, or national forestry authorities seeking consolidation of their territory and cheap labour for resource management, the policy intervention may effectively consist of an attempt to coopt local peoples labour in the interests of the higher aim of resource management or conversation. Murray Li, adopting a position that prioritises the rights of upland peoples argues:
The search must therefore continue for legal strategies which secure for uplanders the benefits of a fuller citizenship and which offer them, and expect from them, no more and no less than other citizens. In order to tease out what these strategies might be, it will be necessary to go beyond the simplifications of the CBNRM model, and locate its assumptions more precisely within the changing political economy and ecology of upland settings (Li, 2002, p. 278).

This is coherent with arguments Li has made elsewhere in relation to the work of Scott where she argues that there is no space beyond the State (nor indeed beyond the market), and that conceptualizations to the contrary are misguided (Li, 2005).




In the first section of this chapter a framework was developed. Bebbington has suggested a form of geography of development intervention which maps development interventions (intentional development) onto key features of political economy (immanent development) and analyses the relationship between the two. My `Critical Geography of Development Intervention framework modifies the definitions of intentional and immanent development somewhat, not least to stress that immanent development consists of a range of ongoing material and ideological struggles which any development intervention must contend with. It also complements the focus on the spatial distribution of phenomena with the use of contextualised studies of place as a means by which to engage critically with the generalised claims of development theory and policy, and the conceptualisation of development interventions as journeys real and metaphorical in order to unpack the discursive and political shapings of intervention and therefore the temporal and contingent nature, of any given spatial arrangement of intervention. In the second section, a selective three-stop guided tour of theoretical and empirical studies relating to the travels of development journeys yielded perspectives that will inform the arguments and findings in this thesis. First, the ever expanding nature of development industry agendas, with the consequent risk of overreach were highlighted, as was the possibility of unintended but beneficial events being set in motion. Institutional economics perspectives explained how the incentives structuring the industry do not tend to hold it accountable to the rural poor who might otherwise be regarded as its clients. Rather, the lines of accountability point back to the donor country and tend to encourage reporting of success based on the few direct outputs that interventions can best control. Second, national political elites representing host governments are crucial as they play the role of gatekeeper and development partner. The development industry tends to represent national governments as development partners often framing them as having very similar motivations to development agencies but lacking the capacities to implement them. Our reference to neo-patrimonialism, shadow state theory and the Southeast Asian Asian Values developmental state have shown, by contrast, how political elites will always have a political project of their own. Whether this is aimed at national improvement or self-enrichment or a mixture of the two, it is unlikely to be reflected in the formal positions adopted by the political elite. Shadow state theory in particular is complemented by resource curse literature and work such as that by Ferguson (2005) which puts the resource curse into a spatial frame. 3. Literature on livelihoods and Southeast Asian rural transformation, has focused on economic relations and mobility. A persistent debate between those who see agriculture as central to rural transformation, and those who see other links to wider markets enabling economic transformations that do not depend on the agricultural sector. These happen in a shifting landscape of frontiers and hinterlands, but it is largely a gentler, less violent landscape than that portrayed in the shadow state literature. Although the effects of recent transformation have been uneven, with winners and losers; there is a sense on the one hand, that there have been more winners than losers in recent times, but on the other hand that the gains are fragile and that populations may rapidly become extremely vulnerable. Finally, we turned to the theoretical underpinnings of the interventions that constitute this case. Systematic land titling and common property rights (CPR) interventions are contrasting from an ideological point of view. Land titling is a market enabling strategy and one that has taken precedence over strategies that prioritise state interventions to allocate land. CPR on the hand occupies a third space with neither market nor state as allocator and manager. Both land titling and CPR interventions have been credibly shown to be effective in particular times and particular places. Proponents of both approaches stress that the respective interventions, 55

whilst having great potential, can only yield that potential if the context is suitable. Land titling will have potential if there are competent authorities respectively to enforce ownership and to register transactions, and if there are adequate supplies of credit. The extent of that potential will be determined by the extent to which pre-titling conditions did not already provide tenure security, credit and functioning land markets. Common property rights interventions and community-based natural resource management initiatives will have more prospect of success if the resource users can exclude non-members effectively and at reasonable cost, if the resource users are not too many, too heterogeneous or too geographically spread, and if there is not extreme instability in the biophysical, economic or social and political relations around the common property regime. As with land titling the clear paradox is that the more suitable the pre-intervention context is for intervention, the less urgent the need for intervention is likely to be in that context. The empirical chapters of this thesis will describe the distribution of systematic land titling and community forestry interventions in Cambodia, and will provide detailed studies of two places where these interventions were implemented. This will enable conclusions to be drawn in the context both of existing literature on the respective interventions in Cambodia, the broader literature on these sorts of intervention as reviewed in this chapter, as well as attempting to suggest some broader implications for the development industry and for critical geographies of development intervention. First, however, in chapter 3, I will describe and justify the methods employed for this study.


3 Investigating Intervention at National and Local Scales

3.1 Justification of Overall Approach and Scales

Chapter one has introduced this project which is an enquiry into the relationship between property rights interventions and the lives and livelihoods of the rural Cambodians that they are designed to assist. This is set in the context of a broader interest in the tendency of rural development interventions both to fail to make a substantial difference to the people they are intended to benefit, and to misrepresent their context. In chapter two a critical development geography was proposed. This would, on the one hand, use studies of place to provide a critical lens through which to view the generalised claims of development policy and theory, and on the other hand would use studies of the spatial distribution of interventions as a means of revealing key interests and ideas which are not apparent in the policies that framed interventions. Detailed case studies provide the possibility of holistic understanding of complex processes (Mayoux, 2006, p. 117). In this case, then, village studies would provide the means by which rural livelihoods could be seen in their everyday, lived context, and by which central concepts and mechanisms envisaged in the interventions could be seen worked out in everyday life. A detailed case study would provide us with insights as to how tenure insecurity was experienced, or what the processes were which led to changes in levels of local control over resources. At the same time, some weaknesses are typically associated with case study work at the sort of small scale where these holistic understandings can be achieved. One is that of representativeness. How can a single village represent a whole country? Another is that of bias. The representativeness of a detailed, contextualised village case study is different to the representativeness of a large-sample survey. The main risk of a detailed case study is that it might portray an exceptional case, or that it might prove impossible to tell from that case what is specific and what is general. The main risk of a large-sample survey, on the other hand, is that the meaning of the answers might be somewhat thin31. Conventionally, these weaknesses are complementary. A small scale study may identify a particular phenomenon or mechanism and explain it in the study context. If this phenomenon is sufficiently important and the explanation sufficiently convincing, these may then be tested against a wider sample using quantitative methods. In practice, there are other matters of degree and debate around the representativeness of any specific case, which might be characterised as discussions of what a case might represent. In


In the context of this thesis, one thinks for example of the statistic cited by Deininger (2005) and Markussen (2008) that 21% of respondents in the 2005 Socio-Economic Survey had land titles. As Markussen explained, no titling had been done on that scale in Cambodia at that time, so the respondents must have meant something different but with only anonymous statistics available, it is only possible to speculate as to what the responses meant.


other words, a study of a remote fishing village might potentially represent other remote fishing villages, and therefore a subsequent iteration of research using quantitative methods might only extend its scope to include other remote fishing villages. Defining characteristics of a case may be developed both in advance (as criteria for selection of the case) or in retrospect (once the case has been analysed and key factors and dimensions more fully understood). In this research, then, careful consideration has been given as to what the local cases might represent. At the same time, however, it should be noted that in practice this iteration between case study and survey work is somewhat rare. The processes described by case study work may be too complex or embedded to lend themselves to quantitative work. Or the case study might be so convincing in its own right that it rapidly circulates and influences research and policy without need to be tested against larger samples. More vexed than the question of representation (though they are often related) is the question of bias. Subjective biases are often held to be more likely in qualitative research which focuses on contextualised studies at a small scale (Mayoux, 2006, p. 121). It is acknowledged that bias is possible in the design and analysis of both qualitative and quantitative studies. The response to this is that a researcher should firstly, strive after objectivity, even whilst acknowledging that no method can be entirely value-free and objective, and secondly, should attempt to specify and acknowledge biases (Holme & Solvang, 1997). In this study, I have both attempted to be objective, but have also sought to acknowledge my biases. Thus chapter one clearly situates me as a sceptic in relation to the effectiveness of rural development initiatives generally, and also makes clear that I have an expectation that the development industry may misrepresent rural livelihoods. These are not matters of uninformed prejudice, but are rather grounded in personal experience and in my readings of development studies literature. Nevertheless, in respect to the current thesis, they do constitute bias: I have acknowledged that bias, explained where it comes from, and I have during design implementation and analysis phases striven after objectivity notwithstanding any biases that I have32. With regard to the study of the spatial distribution of the intervention, choices regarding which phenomena should be identified to enable a mapping of the uneven geographies of poverty and livelihood under capitalist expansion and contraction (Bebbington, 2004, p. 726) followed the choice of intervention to be studied and will be treated below. The question of scale, however, can be treated here. The spatial distribution of an intervention or its effects could have been studied at various scales at district or province level, for example, or within a particular watershed. Indeed, the local case studies did provide the opportunity to study spatial distribution of the interventions at the village scale. However, as we saw in Chapter 2, given the national government in the crucial dual role of gatekeeper/development partner, national scale investigations are particularly valuable for attempting to discern national scale interests and dynamics not immediately apparent in policy framings.


Evolution of Research Design and Selection of Cases

In the context of a 4-year PhD employment, and given the difficulty and sensitivity of some of my research interests, I determined to make the research phase of the project as long as feasibly possible and to adopt an approach that would be flexible and iterative. The research

I might also add that another bias that I have is that in all the years that I have done development research I have always hoped to find examples of intervention that have genuinely made a difference to peoples circumstances. My hopes are profoundly biased in a quite different direction to the acknowledged biases in my expectations.


plan therefore consisted of a one year inception phase followed by a two year main phase. In total I had just over six months of field work available to me in Cambodia. This was divided into six one-month research trips, two during the inception phase and four during the main phase. The intention during the inception phase was to ground the research in the study of the lives and livelihoods of people in a single rural village, and to use that experience to identify an issue of critical importance in their livelihoods. Leaving the decision about that issue until the conclusion of the inception phase was an attempt to let the research respond to local circumstance rather than just to my own interests. The methods for the main phase were likewise not to be decided until the completion of the inception period in order that they could be tailored to fit the research task that emerged. My assumption was that the issues identified at village scale would be followed up by a larger scale quantitative survey thereby generating an iterative process between small-scale and large-scale methods. As it turned out, local circumstances did very much influence the shape and content of the research, although contrary to my own expectations, the research effort included a sustained focus on two villages over a three year period. Below I recount the process by which the two villages and the research themes were selected, before, in the sections that follow, detailing the actual methods used. A village in Cambodia may be anything from a dozen to a thousand households, with the rough average at the 1998 census being 164 households33. For my purposes, a smaller village was an advantage if I was to have a chance of developing an adequate understanding of the entire village. I therefore made size of village a criterion and gave smaller villages priority during the selection of a case. The next criterion that I applied was to try and identify a village where there might be easily traceable links to the sort of powerful and wealthy people who might have a dominant role in setting the social and economic conditions for rural life, but not be resident in rural villages. To do this I took advantage of some existing research in order to select a village with an unusually wealthy resident. At the time that I was beginning my research, the international NGO Oxfam had been carrying out some research on landholdings in rural areas of Cambodia. They had a database where it was possible to identify villages which included some residents with very large agricultural landholdings. Their largest category for an individual land-owner was over 50 hectares. I reasoned that any individual who had acquired that much land would not be a normal poor villager, and would have connections to wealth and power beyond the local area. From the category of villages in the Oxfam survey which contained land owners with more than 50 hectares I then chose the smallest rural village. It was by this means that the village that I call Bey, in Chhlong district of Kracheh province was selected as the study village for the inception phase34. After an initial overnight reconnaissance visit, the village research began in earnest on 26 July 2006, when I deployed for the first time to Bey village accompanied by a research team (see


This is a crude estimate achieved by dividing the 1998 census population of 11,437,656 by the number of villages, 13,406, and then by the average household size, 5,2. These figures include both rural and urban settlement so may not be perfectly accurate. (I suspect that the average rural village size is nearer 250 households). 34 Ironically, we were never able to identify who the Oxfam research had pinpointed as owning over 50 hectares. We obtained the phone numbers of the students who had done the research in Bey village but were not able to talk to them. Nobody in the village reported owning more than 50 hectares of land, although it is certainly possible that landholdings of some of the wealthier households involved in trading land did extend that far.


below). On our first evening we35 heard that officials from the Forestry Administration had called a meeting in the village school. I attended that meeting, and was astonished to find myself sitting alongside the villagers as a forestry official, employing the calmest and most reasoning of tones, informed a third of the villagers that they were to be evicted from their land so that the State could allow the forest to grow back again. That evening, I watched the deputy village chief distribute and collect forms for villagers to protest the evictions. My attention was caught by the fact that the villagers started to refer to these forms as land titles. One immediate concern was that if this village was to become a site of mass evictions that a foreign researcher might not be a welcome witness to the conflicts and violence that that might involve. I felt that I needed a contingency in order to be able to continue the project if I was barred access to Bey. At the same time, having heard the villagers talking of land titles I was struck by the possibility of comparing the informal situation in Bey to the official land titling process that was proceeding elsewhere in the country. I therefore decided to select another village which could be the sole research village for the inception phase if Bey became inaccessible, and which could also provide the basis for a comparision of informal and formal land titling processes. In order to do this, I chose Bati district, because this is the district where I understood that the systematic land titling process had first been piloted and then implemented. Bati district town is only a little more than an hours drive from Phnom Penh. From amongst the communes in Bati that had already been registered, I decided to try and identify a relatively remote commune within the district in order to make the case study as rural as possible36. Within that commune I identified the smallest village, which I am calling Buon in this study, for the reasons given above. At that point I therefore had two small villages and one issue, namely land tenure security. In Buon there was a development industry activity, namely systematic land titling within the Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP), which had been implemented in order to address the issue of tenure security. From the point of view of the development industry, Bey was therefore the village where LMAP did not go. I was therefore interested to look at the question of what sort of development industry intervention did go to this village. The main development intervention in Bey was community forestry. This suited my purpose well given that it was also a form of tenure security intervention. By late 2006, then, after just one of the two inception visits, I had already identified two villages, (whereas I had initially planned to only work in one) and also a broad theme, property rights interventions, with two specific cases land titling and community forestry when I had not intended to identify a theme until completion of the inception phase. Indeed, in the case of the second village, Buon, the activity was identified not on the basis of the interests and priorities of the villagers, but on the basis of my own interest that had been catalysed by events in Bey. Already at that stage, then, the shape of the research was different to what I had anticipated.


During village research I employed a team. I therefore tend to use the first person plural we to describe our activities in the village, and the first person singular I where I am referring to decisions and actions that I took alone. This is in addition to use of we where, as the context makes clear, it is the reader who is incorporated in the first person as we shall see, as we have seen etc. 36 At this stage nowhere in Bati could be described as peri-urban, though this is likely to change in the coming years and decades.


At the end of the inception period there remained a question to answer about the approach for the remainder of the study. Would I continue in the two villages, or would I attempt to scale up, or could I do both? At that point in the research there were many unknowns in Bey: I was in the midst of unravelling the motives behind the initial attempt to evict the villagers, as well as following the processes by which the villagers protests would be examined and adjudicated, and working out the allegiances and intentions of various other actors rumoured to be wanting to become active in the village. Meanwhile, I discovered that a well-designed baseline study had been carried out to assess the impacts of land titling in rural Cambodia (including field research in four provinces that had undergone land registration as well as in a fifth village that would not be registered in the near future and would serve as a control case), and that it would be followed up in 2007. The prospective availability of these research findings allied to interest in understanding the dynamics that lay behind the mass eviction initiative in Bey (which of course provided me with the possibility of the explicit link between poverty and power that I had been looking for but not as I had intended) led me to continue to focus the primary research on achieving a deeper understanding of unfolding events in the two case study villages, and to put them in a wider context by means of secondary sources and interviews with actors at provincial and national levels. This one-thing-leads-to-another process of selecting interventions and villages meant that I had, adopted one lowland rice village and one upland forest village. I had in other words chanced upon the two types of landscape which dominate not only rural Cambodia, but the whole of rural Southeast Asia. This clearly did not make them representative of all upland forest and all lowland rice field villages: a village like Bey inhabited by people from the Khmer majority would for example differ from a Phnong or Kravet minority village in one of the neighbouring provinces; similarly a village like Buon with small landholdings, rain-fed agriculture and poor soils would differ from the villages with irrigation, fertile soils and large landholdings found in the same province but nearer the border with Vietnam. Nonetheless, this possibility of broader resonances was at least opened up and was partly responsible for inspiring the national level case study which is the first of this dissertations three empirical cases. The national case study involved reviewing secondary sources, and supplementing these with interviews with key stakeholders involved in order to construct the geographies of, respectively, tenure insecurity, systematic land titling and community forestry.


Conduct of the Village Studies

The village studies each consisted of six stays of approximately a week once every wet season and once every dry season from July 2006 until March 2009. In total, approximately 370 interviews were conducted, about 140 interviews in each village and a further 90 interviews with government officials and development practitioners. At village level these were complemented by a series of questionnaires and surveys. The rest of this chapter describes and explains the conduct of the research 3.3.1 Research Team Composition One of my advantages in conducting this research is my fluency in the Khmer language. Bernard (2002) notes the risks attendant on being a researcher who does not know the local language, especially those related to being considered a freak and to being given mischievously false information. In his words, The most important thing you can do to stop being a freak is to speak the language of the people you are studying and speak it well (Bernard, 2002, p. 339). 61

The employment of a research team was a matter of choice, therefore, rather than of necessity. A small team, I reasoned, would enable us to maximise the amount of information collected in a (relatively) short period of time, and also to provide different interpretations of our findings. Four heads, I decided would be better than one. I assembled a team that included a mixture of age and sex, and also that included people who had grown up in rural areas of the country (see photography at Figure 3-1) The assumption here is that women like to talk to women, men like to talk to men, old people like to talk to other older people etc. Obviously other dynamics also apply, but by ensuring that our team was as heterogeneous as possible we maximised our chances of benefiting from those dynamics. Myself and a lady from a village in Battambang whom I had known since 1998 were the older half of the team, while two students formed the younger half of the team. At the outset these were two final year sociology students, who (as they became unavailable) were then replaced by geography students from the Royal University of Phnom Penh. At the risk of stating the obvious, the characters and abilities of the research team members were crucial to the success or otherwise of the research (Simon, 2006, p. 165).

Photograph: Robin Biddulph Figure 3-1: Research team in Phnom Penh, 2008. Saroth, Chanreth, Dina, Robin

In many ways the personality of the team members was more important than their intellectual capacity. They must be the sort of people who villagers would want to talk to, and the sort of people who would want to listen, and who would be curious enough to ask follow-up questions and interested enough to remember and reflect on what they were told. 3.3.2 The Profile of the Research Team in the Villages During the research we stayed in the villages overnight. This enabled us for a time to be as involved in the life of the village as much as possible. We did not offer to pay for 62

accommodation, but did pay for our food. As guests we developed relationships in the village and particularly with the members of the households where we stayed. Typically we would give small gifts as souvenirs of our visits and as tokens of our gratitude. This seemed to be both basic courtesy and to fit with what is recommended in the literature (e.g. Brydon, 2006, p. 30). We sought to achieve a balance during our research between being seen to be approved of by the local authorities (and therefore not a threat to them, which might cause people to avoid us), and at the same time having enough distance from them that we might have the chance to hear critical and dissident voices. This is part of the standard problem of both entering a community at the same time as not being captured by gatekeepers who enable that entry (e.g. Apentiik & Parpart, 2006, pp. 35-36; Brydon, 2006, p. 28; Momsen, 2006, p. 49; Willis, 2006, pp. 147-148). On arrival in the village, especially for our first visit, and especially on any occasion when we had new members in the research team, we always ensured that we went for a walk around the village area, this was as much so that we could be observed as it was so that we could observe. We would be in the company of the village chief, and therefore our presence was tacitly approved. And people would have already seen us once, and possibly had their curiosity aroused, so that when we arrived at their houses we would not be complete strangers. Typically, we would begin the first morning with a long interview with the village chief and others in the village authorities. Partly this was strategic. By the end of that process they would start to tire of us, and any desire they had to follow us around and monitor us would be exhausted. Furthermore, by dividing the team of four to work as either pairs or individuals we were effectively beyond the resources of the village authorities to monitor. Having said that we made efforts to insulate ourselves from the oversight of the authorities in order to ensure that we gave ourselves the best chance of hearing critical voices, it is also worth noting as an aside that deputy village chiefs in each of the villages were clearly the men with the best relationships with higher levels in the ruling party hierarchy, and were also the source of some of the most critical comments we heard. It is not, of course, certain, that deliberately being seen in the company of the authorities was the best strategy for ensuring that we also heard critical voices. However, my reasoning was that given the hierarchies and formalities of visiting a Cambodian village that distancing ourselves from the authorities might have made people reluctant to be seen confiding in us. By making ourselves as respectable as possible we tried to ensure that talking to us was not seen or experienced as a seditious or dangerous activity. It was then up to us to win peoples confidence such that we could get the fullest and frankest possible answers from them. Our selection of a place to stay involved a similar balancing act. Often in a village there is a senior woman who is not in practice an everyday participant in the work of the authorities, but who is formally involved and recognised as one of them. We succeeded in staying with just such a woman in Buon. In Bey, however, we were immediately adopted by the deputy village chief and his wife: they claimed that nobody else in the village would be able to cook food good enough for us and insisted we stay with them. During interviews we always explained that our work was to enable Robin to write a book about peoples life in rural Cambodia so that people in Britain and Sweden can know about it. We always insisted that we were not going to help anybody and were nothing to do with any development project. It is unlikely that this was completely believed, indeed the commune chief responsible for Buon village was quite explicit in saying that he knew that we had to say 63

this, but that in the end we would be providing assistance, or telling somebody else to provide assistance. Presumably at least some of the people we interacted with acted on that assumption and it is difficult to see what more we could have done to avoid that. 3.3.3 Conduct of Interviews Priority was given to putting the interviewee at ease. To the extent that there is a trade-off between getting the interviewee to talk freely, and capturing everything that they say, I consistently prioritised the former. Decisions about how and when the interviews were documented were also decentralised within the team. When we worked in pairs one person typically took notes and the other asked questions. So in cases where we were carrying out individual interviews (as opposed to administering questionnaires), researchers were given the choice of whether they took notes during the interview or waited until afterwards. In practice, the Cambodian team members always took notes when they interviewed respondents, and I usually did so too. If I took notes afterwards it was more likely to be following a chance encounter, or where a conversation had taken place when I was doing something else. Working on the assumption that the interview itself might be sufficiently constraining for the interviewee to result in much screening of information (as the informant kindly, and desperately tries to second guess what the interviewer wants to hear and then to provide them with that information), researchers were also encouraged to close their books at the end of an interview, set their pens aside and have a bit of a chat, to give a chance for anything that was on the interviewees mind to come out. For this same reason I did not generally tape record interviews. This was a policy which I modified towards the end of the study. For certain set-piece interviews, where I already considered that I had captured the sensitive information, or where the information was not of a sensitive nature, I recorded the interview37. This particularly included some accounts of village history with older villagers in Buon, and an interview with the head of the community forestry group in Bey recapping all that we had talked about during the previous two and a half years. This latter interview provided confirmation of the idea that people will not talk as freely when they are recorded. Whilst he appeared as frank as usual, there were certain issues and incidents where his position shifted, and where he specifically refused to make allegations which he had made before. This set up certain questions which (every project must have a finish) could not be resolved. Was it fear inspired by the recorder which made him more cautious? Or had he been exaggerating earlier when he could speak without fear of contradiction or consequence, and was the recorded response in fact the more honest one? More generally, interview notes were gone through after lunch and in the evening of each day, with the researchers reporting what they had learned and me translating and transcribing directly into English in my notebook or (on later visits) laptop computer. Interviews ranged in character. Generally there was a structured portion where researchers would ask specific questions followed by a less structured portion. Chance encounters and unexpected conversations also contributed to our data and were also on a few occasions documented. On one evening, for example, we were washing at a remote spot at the stream east of Bey after the water had risen to high at our normal washing place and were approached by a villager who shared extremely sensitive information with us. On other occasions information acquired in casual conversations could then be confirmed later in interviews.


All of these strategies audio recording, taking notes during the interview, taking notes after the interview are recognized as legitimate options, each with relative advantages and disadvantages, in the method literature, (e.g.Willis, 2006, pp. 149-150).


The interviews have all been recorded in Word files and assigned a number. In my records are the typed up notes/transcripts along with the names of the interviewee and interviewer, the date and in the case of the village interviews the household number that we used to identify the household in our records and maps. In the text interviews are referred to by a simple number. All interviews referenced in the text are listed at Appendix 1 and there the date of the interview, identity of the interviewer, gender of the interviewee and other limited descriptive information which does not breach confidentiality is provided (c.f. Brydon, 2006, pp. 26-27). 3.3.4 Village Census and Developing Analytical Categories The villages were assumed to be stratified and dynamic. In other words, it was not expected that all household would have similar livelihoods. An early attempt to identify any patterns of difference which might be used to disaggregate the village population was a village census. This involved administering a short questionnaire at every household in the village. For every household this told us when their household had formed in the village (i.e. when the couple got married, or when they moved to the village); when they had occupied their current plot; when they had built their current house; whether they owned a television and/or a motorcycle. For every individual this told us: when and where they were born; their name and sex; their location on the day of the census; their main activity on the day of the census (see Appendix 1). This enabled us to solve what Gould (2006, p. 82) has called one of the classic technical problems of having a systematic baseline and population or household universe for deriving a community sample By comparing data on migration and livelihood activities and discussing these with our hosts in the village we were able to make an initial disaggregation of the village population. These disaggregations were different for each village, as for example, one of the villages had undergone successive waves of migration which underpinned the class system and division of labour in the village, whilst no such demographic changes were apparent in the other village. A secondary benefit of beginning with the census was that very early in the research process we had been in every household in the village. This meant that we could already at that stage rely on our observations to inform our choice of case study households and interviewees and not therefore be dependent on village gatekeepers 3.3.5 Case study households In each village, eight households were selected for more detailed study. We aimed to make these representative of the broader population, and used the information from the village census as well as our village maps in order to try and have a sample that drew from all geographical areas of the villages as well as from the full range of household origins and livelihood profiles (as far as we understood them after our initial visit). Within the research team each person was allocated two households with whom they were to become particularly well acquainted. This degree of familiarisation was designed to maximise the chances of collecting information which was as full and accurate as possible. The assumption here was that we could not hope to understand the situations and dynamics of all sixty-six (in the case of Buon) or eighty-three (in the case of Bey at the outset of the research) households in the villages, and that just as we had privileged knowing two villages very well rather than, for example, thirty or forty villages less well, we also privileged knowing sixteen households very well within those two villages. For those sixteen households, then, we have life histories which were put together in a series of five or more interviews per household between early 2007 and early 2009. 65

The more time we spent with the case study households, the more that the relationship became a personal one. The rules of the game become unclear and the research rested more and more upon personal dynamics. There is a difficult balancing act within this approach. The most fundamental problem is that the stronger the emotional bond between the researchers and the villagers, the more there is the potential that the emotional relationship is being abused in order to garner information. On the one hand, this was exactly what I was aiming at: to build open and trusting relationships in order that I could obtain as much accurate information as possible. Given this, we were scrupulous in reminding the interviewees of our role as researchers, and that they were aware that, while we would not identify them individually, anything that they said to us could be used in the book I was writing. In other words we attempted to always maintain informed consent to the greatest extent possible (cf. Brydon, 2006, p. 26) . 3.3.6 Iterative Research Process Inventory of Research activities

With the village census as the start point, and the case study households as a continuous resource we had the basis for an iterative research process. The intention was that we would begin by only focusing on livelihood issues both how people made a living and what particular factors enabled and constrained those livings and that only in the later stages would we turn our attention to the development interventions. That strategy was designed to try and prevent answers being distorted by villagers assuming that we were actually development providers (and that if they gave the right answers about how important and necessary the particular products we might have to offer were that they might receive our assistance). In addition to this general trajectory, we were constantly identifying gaps and anomalies which we then tried to follow up. These might be small issues identified during our reporting and discussions at the evening of each day, and might result in a researcher going back to the same household to ask some supplementary questions, or going to another household to triangulate some piece of information that did not seem quite right. Or they might have been longer term issues, perhaps with me reflecting on what we had learned from one visit during my five months in Sweden, and feeding these reflections into the choice of methods and questions for the next trip. Likewise, they might be a particular sort of enquiry, trying to work out the supply chain in the local resin trade, or the barriers to entry for villagers wanting to work in garment factories, or they might be a more specific question regarding a particular period in history or a particular meeting that we had heard about but were not yet clear on. Table 1 below gives an overview of methods used. The bold type highlights the name for the research method that is given in the text. Comments on reliability were based on either triangulation with other explicit research methods, or with our own observations either of material conditions or of how (in the case of wealth ranking) judgements did or did not appear to be influenced by personal attachments or animosities. The remainder of this section consists of an account of the specific methods utilised on each field visit, supported by Appendices which provide supplementary information in the form of question lists and survey forms etc.


Table 3-1: Summary of Village Research Methods used in Bey and Buon case studies 2006-2009

Date Autumn 2006 Autumn 2006 Spring 2007



Village census (all Quantitative information. Reliable. Enables good demographic households and all overview of population. See Appendix 2. individuals) 25% Livelihood Quantitative information. Reliable. Includes detail on survey (20 households indebtedness, livelihood activities, health crises and coping per village) strategies, travel beyond the village. Questions at Appendix 3. 10% Income and Incomes and expenditures do not tally well and seem to be Expenditure survey of under-reported. Information somewhat unreliable and to be 8 case study used cautiously. Summary information at Appendix 4. households using MOPS questions. 10% Life histories of 8 Rich and varied. case study households Land and Livelihood Information on land holdings and yields in both villages. survey (I) Probably reliable. Also information on livelihood activities, reliable but probably understates the number of activities. Information on incomes in Buon very unreliable. Questions at Appendix 5. Mapping of selected Accurate to within 11 meters according to the Global land claims in Bey Positioning System. Mapped a number of claims, mainly belonging to case study households, some of which may be contested during the project period. Wealth ranking in Convincing information on relative wealth of households Buon by village chief according to three categories. with commune councillor Repeat of Village Detailed, reliable information allowing us to document Census in Bey and demographic change within the course of the project. See Buon Appendix 2. Land and Livelihood Just four questions. Provided wet season comparison with survey (2) in Bey spring activities, as well as a check on reliability of landholding information. See Appendix 7. Land titling survey impact Reliable information on extent to which villagers felt tenure to be more or less secure after titling, and whether titling had made a difference to agricultural practice. Summary findings at Appendix 8.

Autumn 2007 Spring 2008

Spring 2008

Spring 2008

Autumn 2008 Autumn 2008 Autumn 2008

Spring 2009 Spring 2009

Wealth ranking in Bey Fairly convincing information, but slightly less reliable than with deputy village the same exercise in Buon. chief Survey of land Detailed information on how transactions have been secured transactions in Buon historically, (following up respondents who reported having bought or sold land in Land and Livelihood Survey (I).


Field Visit 1 July and November 2006

A village census was conducted in each village (Bey in July and Buon in November 38), see 3.3.4 above and Appendix 2, and the results entered into two quantitative databases, one of which recorded household and the other individual information. In addition to collecting this basic information our purpose was to establish good relations with villagers, including that research team members start to identify people in the village with whom they could develop particularly good relations. A 25% livelihood survey was a questionnaire administered to over twenty households in each village (see Appendix 3 for details). This provided information by household on land holdings, dry season and rainy season livelihood activities, including information on both sources of money and sources of food. Questions on health were used in order to identify the means households had at their disposal to support themselves through shocks and crises. Questions about debt were used in order to identify the extent to which either business development and small-scale capital accumulation or indebtedness and potential dispossession might be underway, and also to get insights into the extent to which the villages had economic relations beyond the village. Questions about the village were used to help us get a sense of the sort of village this was, and questions about journeys to other locations were used to get a sense of the degree of and reasons for mobility within households. Field Visit 2, Spring 2007

During this second visit, based on the results of the village censuses, the eight case study households were identified in each village, aiming to represent a cross-section of different sorts of household in the village, especially regarding diverse ways of making a living and differing degrees of wealth and poverty. In order to attempt to quantify information on incomes and expenditure that we could compare with other existing surveys, we used the sections of the questionnaire used by the Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI) Moving Out of Poverty Study (MOPS) (Fitzgerald & Sovannarith, 2007) which related to income and expenditure. The validity of this was limited by the fact that the original study did not have clear protocols regarding how to deal with responses which gave widely divergent incomes and expenditures, and that we encountered just such divergences from some of our respondents. Nevertheless, this did give us some insights into the economies of the case study households (see Appendix 4). Field Visit 3 September 2007

The main task at this stage was to compose life histories of the eight case study households, to help us understand their long-term livelihood trajectories, and also to build up an account of village history complemented by interviews with older villagers. At this stage we began to focus a little more on the interventions in our interviews and conversations, having up to that point tending to avoid them and focus on discussions of livelihood. Field Visit 4, January 2008

By now we had from our contacts with the case study households quite strong suspicions of what was and was not important in household livelihoods, however, we sought to obtain confirmation through data on all households in the village, including if possible reliable quantifications. A Land and Livelihood Questionnaire (see Appendix 6) included information

The first trip in July 2006 included only a research trip to Bey, with a two-day reconnaissance visit followed by a week-long stay. The decision to adopt a second village was made after I returned to Sweden, so I made an extra trip to Cambodia so that I could incorporate the second village in that first rainy season.


on land holdings and yields which appeared quite reliable and gave us insights to the importance of agriculture in the two villages; a livelihood matrix enabled us to tick off which household members had participated in which activities during the previous year. Questions about income were administered in Buon. As a check we also conducted a Wealth Ranking exercise with the village chief. There were huge discrepancies between the reported incomes and the wealth ranking. On the basis of our own knowledge and judgement, the village chiefs assessments were more reliable than the financial information we got from interviewees. These findings, then, could only be used with the utmost caution if at all, as they seemed to be biased by better off households under-reporting their incomes. Field Visit 5, October 2008

The village census was repeated in both villages, enabling comparison with the censuses taken two years earlier in July 2006 in Bey and October 2006 in Buon. Photographs of all houses and all available household members were taken as a supplementary documentary record. The Land Titling Impact Survey in Buon enabled us to compare the impacts expected to accrue from systematic land titling to those actually experienced. The simple survey consisted of just three yes/no questions. 1. Do you currently worry that your land could be taken from you? 2. Were you worried before titling that your land could be taken from you? 3. Have you changed the way you farm since you received your title? Wherever there were anomalous answers, those were followed up for clarification. Where respondents answered yes to question 3, a crucial element of the justification for land titling, follow up was carried out to ascertain whether the land titling was a causal factor in the changes in agricultural practice. In Bey a land and livelihood survey was conducted. This was to gather information about landholdings, area farmed and yields, and provided a direct comparison between the 2008 agricultural season and the 2007 agricultural season. Villagers were also asked about their main source of income. Field Visit 6, March 2009

In Buon, all households who had reported buying or selling land in the land and livelihood questionnaire were interviewed in order to ascertatin information about the land market in Bey before and subsequent to land titling. In Bey, a wealth ranking exercise was conducted with the assistance of the deputy village chief.


Conduct of National Study

3.4.1 Approach: Adopting and Adapting Bebbington According to Bebbingtons presecription, a development geography of intervention would consist of three analytical moves: 1. Trace the uneven geographies of poverty and livelihood under conditions of capitalist expansion and contraction, explaining how these are produced. 2. Trace and explain the emergence of uneven geographies of intentional intervention. 3. Analyse the interactions between these geographically uneven processes of immanent and intentional development. (Bebbington, 2004, p. 726) For the purpose of the thesis there was no need for the concern to span as ambitiously to produce a geography of poverty and livelihood. Rather, the first step was a national 69

geography of tenure insecurity in Cambodia. The geographies of intentional intervention, systematic land titling and community forestry, constituted the second step. Thirdly and finally, the interaction between the problem of tenure insecurity and the solutions of community forestry and systematic land titling was analysed, starting with the simple matter of examining the extent to which there was geographical congruence between the problem and the posited solutions. 3.4.2 Database Access for National Case Study The data used to construct the national case study was a combination of primary sources in the form of interviews with key stakeholders, secondary sources in the form of existing literature principally grey literature and newspaper reports and databases. Effectively there were three phenomena to be mapped: tenure insecurity; systematic land titling; community forestry. In each case, securing interviews with relevant informants, and accessing relevant literature proved relatively unproblematic. These provided the basis for a narrative account of the geographies. In order to adequately map these geographies, however, I needed more comprehensive GIS-linked databases. These existed for all three geographies that I was attempting, but accessing those proved problematic.
Table 3-2: Database and Map Access for National Case Study.

Data Tenure Insecurity

Database owner Access39 NGO Forum of Access to reports, but not to Cambodia database on grounds of confidentiality. National Forestry National map but not yet Administration the database that underpins it. Ministry of Land Have obtained a map down Management to district level, but not the Urban Planning database that underpins it. and Construction

Community Forestry (CF) Systematic land titling

Implications Analytical categories used in the report do not tally with my analysis so difficult to use. Access to full database may not solve this. Gives clear picture of location of CF but not of the relation to quality of forest/deforestation. Map only provides detail down to district level, whereas patterns of distribution are more interesting at more detailed level.

Source: Authors derivation.


Ethics and Anonymity

As explained above, we strove not to wake false expectations amongst villagers, both by telling a clear and simple story about why we were in the village (Robin works at a university and is writing a book about rural Cambodia so that people in England and Sweden can understand more about life here), and by explicitly repeating that we would not be helping in any way, including that we would not be attracting others to assist in the village. We also made it clear that whilst anything that was said we would use as material for our writing, that we would not use individuals names. We have respected this promise, and we have also further protected the identities of villagers and of the villages by concealing the names of the villages and the communes in which they are situated. This means that the substantial photographic record I have of the villages, as well as the painstakingly drawn maps of the villages have not been used in this thesis.

All data owners were cooperative and in principle willing to consider sharing more information. Ongoing work on databases, and a lack of time allocated by me to follow up with relevant owners to get the appropriate permissions were the reasons access was not fuller.


This should be considered an extra precaution, and certainly not a watertight one. Anyone who has been involved in our work, including from senior government officials, to local authorities to noodle shop owners can easily find out where we have been if they do not already know. The real protection for informants is the fact that information in this thesis is not surprising or new to anybody who is directly affected by it. We did receive one or two pieces of information that could have proved incendiary and those we have not shared. Nevertheless, commonsense and the cautions in the methodological literature, suggest that it is impossible to know what might prove to be controversial at a later stage, and that it is therefore sensible to protect identities to the extent possible (Brydon 2006). My own road to hell paved with good intentions has related to consultation with development professionals and government officials working on the interventions discussed in this thesis. Good ethical practice would have included sharing drafts with them in good time before this thesis was published. Failure to do so was entirely because of the difficulty I had in writing drafts of sufficient standard in good time to circulate. I did make a presentation at the Community Based Natural Resource Management Learning Institute offices in Phnom Penh in March 2009 to people in the community forestry sector where most of my most controversial and critical findings were shared, and discussed. However, I did not manage to organise anything comparable for people involved in systematic land titling. The thesis will be circulated to people involved in both interventions, and their comments will be considered and given due weight in any subsequent publications relating to this research.



The events of our first morning in Bey meant that in some respects the inception phase lasted barely a day, rather than lasting a whole year. The consequence was that the project had from the beginning a double-focus rather than the single-issue, single-location start point that had been envisaged. There had been a trade-off between depth and breadth of coverage here. The enhanced breadth has meant that the two villages can be mobilised to construct a case that engages with issues affecting both halves of the dichotomised rural Cambodian landscape agricultural rice plains and more or less forested uplands. However, this has meant that my resources have been spread more thinly with regard to engaging with the respective agriculture and forestry sectors, and the histories and geographies of interventions in those sectors. The structure of the research, with a months field research in Cambodia, followed by five months of writing and analysis and reflection in Sweden, had different implications in each village. In Bey, where the period 2006-9 represented a period of significant upheavals at the village level, and where much information was controversial and not readily shared, stretching the research over a three year period had clear advantages. Visible changes could provide the impetus for questions (as for example certain families built larger houses while others remained in fairly miserable conditions), and we could trace events over the months it took for them to unfold (as the provincial authorities undertook to review the protests made by the villagers against their evictions, and then abandoned that investigation whilst shedding light on the events that had set the process in motion). The repeated visits over time increased the chances of obtaining interviews with certain people including the well-connected businessman who had direct responsibility for the forest concession in the area of Bey. Effectively it meant that I had six chances to try and arrange an interview with him and it was on the fifth of these six that I succeeded in doing so. Likewise, at village level, where people may be protecting information, stretching the research over three years has advantages. People are very happy to tell what they think you already know, and are unlikely to remember what they told you six months previously. By hinting that I had picked up information from a meeting 71

with officials elsewhere, or giving the impression that I was already informed about a particular deal (and perhaps because issues become less controversial with time), I often obtained information in one visit that I had not been able to obtain in a previous one. Buon, on the other hand was not subject to dramatic changes during the research period, at least not at the village level: the village had undergone dramatic changes in the decade before we arrived, and it seemed on the threshold of other quite different changes, but 2006-9 was an interim of relative calm. The extended time span did give us an opportunity to witness some of the dynamics within households, countering an implicit weakness in our approach of dealing mainly with the household as a unit, and particularly highlighting some of the crucial gender dynamics. Overall, though, it is likely that our understanding of the situation in Buon (unlike that in Bey) could have been enhanced by spending a longer period of unbroken research there, rather than being disrupted by half a dozen sets of entry and departure rituals. None of the national data sets currently available provides a comprehensive overview of tenure security in Cambodia. The content of supplementary interviews gives strong support to the geography of tenure insecurity outlined in this report. Access to an updated land dispute database might also have indicated whether there is any beginning of change to the broad trends established. As noted above, an important limitation relates to engagement with the officials, agency staff and consultants working in community forestry and systematic land titling in Cambodia during the closing stages of the thesis preparation. In addition to my own inability to meet deadlines I set myself, contacts with systematic land titling appear to have been hampered by the ongoing investigation into the World Bank support for LMAP. I sent questions to people supporting land titling, to elicit their views in relation to main lines of argument generated in the thesis, but only one person close to the LMAP project answered the questions, whilst the only other response was a polite apology for the inability of World Bank staff and consultants to answer (see Appendix 9 for the list of questions and the World Bank response).



The question of the relationship between property rights interventions in Cambodia and the lives and livelihoods of rural people who they were designed to assist has been addressed by means firstly of a geography of development intervention incorporating a national geography of tenure insecurity and geographies of the implementation of community forestry and systematic land titling, and secondly through the means of two village studies, implemented between 2006 and 2009, which described villagers livelihoods, explained the actors and processes shaping those livelihoods, and then reported the differences made to lives and livelihoods by the respective community forestry and systematic land titling interventions. The three chapters that follow present the findings from these studies at national and village level.


4. The National Case Study

4.1 Introduction

This chapter contributes to the overall enquiry of the thesis into the relationship between property rights interventions and rural livelihoods by investigating the relationship between the (immanent development) geography of tenure insecurity and the (intentional development) geographies of systematic land titling and community forestry. It relies primarily on secondary sources, complemented by interviews carried out during field research between 2006 and 2009. On occasion these are supplemented by earlier direct observations 40. The chapter begins with a historical background to Cambodia, culminating in the transition of the 1990s and the (re-)consolidation of power by the current Prime Minister. The geography of tenure insecurity discusses both the distribution of tenure insecurity in rural Cambodia, and the political and economic factors which shaped that distribution. The geographies of the respective interventions, systematic land titling and community forestry, likewise discuss the distribution and the factors which shaped that distribution. In order to complete the geographical analysis at the national scale there is a discussion of the mutually constitutive interactions (Bebbington, 2000, p. 515) between the geography of immanent development of tenure insecurity and the geography of intentional development of the tenure security interventions. Finally, the chapter is summarised.


Historical Background

4.2.1 Rural Inertia in Cambodian History David Chandlers History of Cambodia gives prominence to four themes: the effects of its location between Vietnam and Cambodia; the relationship of twentieth century Cambodia to its past, and particularly to the Angkor period; the pervasiveness of patronage and hierarchical terminology in Cambodian thinking, politics and social relations; the inertia that seems to be characteristic of rural society (Chandler, 1992, pp. 1-2, my italics). All four of these themes remain resonant in contemporary Cambodia and can readily be traced into the discussions in this thesis. Chandler is cautionary regarding the apparent continuities of rural life in Cambodia. Commentators mention the similarity of the rural scenes depicted on the temples of Angkor Wat (built between 800 and 1300) and the rural Cambodia of today. In terms of everyday practices, the few detailed studies which have been carried out have supported this41. Chandler


Made during the time I lived in Cambodia, 1991-2001, or during visits I made there during the time between moving to Sweden in 2001 and commencing doctoral research there in 2006.

Academic studies of rural Cambodia appeared during the 1960s. Jean Delvert was a french geographer whose 1961 doctoral dissertation Le Paysan Cambodgien (1961) attempted a detailed account of peasant life. Just prior to this the American anthropologogist May Ebihara had completed twelve months of field work in a village just


affirms that Cambodias rural technology has remained largely unchanged until very recently. Certainly in the 18 years since I have been acquainted with rural Cambodia many of the things that had been continuous for centuries have changed. Milling rice by hand was the norm two decades ago, but is rarely if ever seen now, as most villages have at least one household with a petrol fuelled milling machine where people pay to have their rice milled. Oxcarts had wooden wheels for centuries, but in the past decade almost all of these have been replaced by car or tractor wheels. However, our readings of studies from the 1990s (Ferguson, 1994; T. Mitchell, 1995; Porter et al., 1991) should warn us about the dangers of generalising such continuities into a picture of unchanged, undisturbed agricultural rural isolation, and this is also Chandlers main point. He argued that every one of his thirteen chapters represented a major transformation in Cambodian life and that:
The notion of changelessness is a myth or at least an oversimplification of events, but it has persisted for too long among students of Cambodian history and among Cambodians who make a virtue of a conservative point of view (Chandler, 1992, pp. 2-3).

When Chandler identifies the importance of the relationship to the past, this is not simply a historian prioritising his own subject. The temples of Angkor Wat provide a symbolic reminder that Cambodia stood at the centre of a powerful empire between the ninth and thirteenth centuries, controlling vast tracts of land that are now in the territory of Thailand and Vietnam. Since the colonial promotion of this stage of Cambodian history as a central part of the construction of national identity (Edwards, 2008), Angkor Wat has appeared as the central symbol on every one of the five national flags that have been adopted during Cambodias tumultuous and sometimes disastrously nationalist post-independence history. 4.2.2 Colonial Influences French colonialism was not only central in the construction of a national Cambodia identity, but also in the survival of the Cambodian state itself. Throughout the dark ages from the fall of Angkor in the fourteenth century up to colonial times the struggles for power in Cambodia were inevitably between factions supported respectively by Vietnam and Thailand. Each victory led to deals whereby the victorious faction granted its supporters in the neighbouring country land or influence in Cambodia. Had France not intervened Cambodia would quite possibly not have survived as a nation into the twentieth century (Osborne, 1997, p. 175). Cambodia first concluded a treaty with France in 1864, and became a fully-fledged protectorate in 1883 (Chandler, 1992, pp. 141-144). The main historical sources privilege events at court and allow few glimpses of rural life, except in those rare periods when the peasantry became an actor in national politics through organised revolt, such as 1884-6 during the period of insurrection after the protectorate was established (Osborne, 1997, pp. 206-231) and the 1916 riots against French policies on compulsory labour and the abuse of those policies when implemented by the Khmer administration (Osborne, 1978). Otherwise, even French colonial officials complained of knowing very little about the rural areas of the country, including not knowing how many people lived there or who had what rights to land (Chandler, 1992, p. 147). Much of French policy focused on establishing new institutions in rural areas. Some of the institutions created by the French are still found in modified form today, notably the system of
south of Phnom Penh which she called Svay and which was subsequently documented in her unpublished but widely circulated and influential PhD dissertation (Ebihara, 1968).


forest concessions and the commercial rubber plantations in the eastern central province of Kampong Cham. Some of the reforms tried and failed under the French, such as democratically elected local councils and the establishment of a cadastral register are now being repeated by the modern development industry. Chandlers analysis of the early French will to improve in the form of abolition of slavery and introducing land ownership rights was that the French vision was of a liberated Cambodian yeomanry responding rationally to market pressures (Chandler, 1992, p. 144). One of the Cambodian Princes, King Norodoms favourite son Yukanthor, went into exile in protest at the French policies and claiming that they, by creating property had created the poor, which Chandler judged largely true (1992, p. 147). Researchers are beginning to mine the national archives in Phnom Penh, and the French colonial archives (in Aix-en-Provence and elsewhere) to give a full account of the French reforms in Cambodia42. Margaret Slocombs (2007) history of the development of Cambodias rubber plantations will hopefully be the fore-runner of a number of works on land management and politics during the colonial period. 4.2.3 Post-Independence Independence from French rule came to Cambodia twice. On 13 March 1945, at Japanese prompting, Cambodia declared itself independent, invalidating all existing Franco-Cambodian agreements. The defeat of the Japanese in the war brought the French back to power, but only following negotiations that yielded new arrangements between the countries. Chandler (Chandler, 1992, p. 172) noted that, The agreement promised Cambodia a constitution and the right to form political parties, but French control remained in such fields as finance, defense, and foreign affairs. In the following years Cambodias newly-formed political parties were frustrated in their bid to persuade France to grant independence. The young King Sihanouk, however, utilizing his ability to mobilize mass demonstrations and his superior relations with the colonial power, was able to gain credit for the achievement of independence in 1953. During this period, Sihanouk gradually learned how to use his increased personal popularity and power to extinguish the pluralistic electoral politics that had been introduced in 1946 and establish his own personal control (Chandler, 1992, p. 184). Summing up the failure of the 1946 constitution to usher in a Western political system Osborne wrote (no doubt with one eye on contemporary events):
Most fundamentally, the constitution assumed that a population that had never experienced anything remotely like democracy could quickly adopt the attitudes and practices of a largely alien system (Osborne, 1994, p. 59).

Abdicating in favour of his father in order to become Prime Minister, Sihanouk (now Prince Sihanouk) presided over a one-party system of government. All political hues were welcome in the party (which was both royal and socialist), and even within government, but anyone voicing opposition was likely to disappear from the scene (Kiernan, 2002, p. 484). This period (1955-70) constituted the formative years of the older members of the post-1993 ruling elite: it would, with its patronage, sponsorship of development, cancer of corruption (Osborne, 1994, p. 137) vote-buying and manipulation of elections (e.g. Osborne, 1994, p. 187) and


In Phnom Penh I was, confidentially, given the outlines of one edited book involving international and Cambodian scholars that would attempt to commemorate the hundred years that had passed since the establishment of the cadastral system and the concession system.


underlying brutal menace, be their most recent memory of peace or normality before civil war and worse engulfed the country. Sihanouk cultivated friendships within the non-aligned movement and attempted to maintain Cambodia as an island of peace in the face of the overtures from both sides in the USA war in Vietnam. This proved an impossible balancing act and arguably the decline in his fortunes in domestic politics could be traced back to when he broke off US military aid which up to 1963 had constituted a 15% subsidy to the national budget (Chandler, 1992, pp. 201-204). In 1970, while Sihanouk was away overseas, a coup by a right-wing pro-American faction led to the creation of the Khmer Republic under former police chief and Prime Minister Lon Nol. His urban-based regime underwent a five-year civil war in which a countryside-based resistance comprising royalists and communists eventually triumphed, marching into Phnom Penh and evacuating it (Chandler, 1992, pp. 204-208). During the three years, eight months and 20 days of Khmer Rouge rule that followed, virtually the entire population was resettled in the countryside (Kiernan, 1996, 2002, pp. 485-486). Forced labour, communal living and starvation rations were standard43. This work regime, overlain with successive purges, first of external enemies before 1977 and then of (real and imagined) enemies from within after 1977, led to a death toll that is most commonly estimated at about 1.7 million out of a population of 7 million. This is alleged to have been the highest per capita rate of killing in modern world history (Ledgerwood, 2002) and meant that almost everyone lived with extreme fear, and that most lost immediate family to either execution or forced starvation. Purges in the Khmer Rouge Eastern Zone were met with resistance by military units there who mutinied and after prolonged fighting took flight to Vietnam. They returned as part of a Vietnamese led force of 150 000 on 25th December 1978, and in a matter of days they had driven the Khmer Rouge out of power and taken over the country (Kiernan, 2002, pp. 486487). It was from these mutineers that the countrys leadership during the 1980s and 1990s was taken, including the current Prime Minister Hun Sen, who became Foreign Minister at the age of 28, and then in 1984 at the age of 32 succeeded Chan Si as Prime Minister. The overthrow of the Khmer Rouge did not herald peace in Cambodia. For geopolitical reasons, the United States and China, supported amongst others by regional allies in Thailand and Singapore, wished to oppose the new Vietnamese- and Soviet- supported government in Phnom Penh and were prepared to rehabilitate and support the Khmer Rouge in order to do so (Chandler, 1992, p. 231). Cambodia therefore endured an extended period of isolation and guerrilla warfare as US and Chinese opposition to Vietnam and the Soviet Bloc took the form of UN recognition of the Khmer Rouge and their allies as the rightful government of Cambodia. As a result of the governments need to defend against this internationally sponsored guerrilla resistance, local government and authority remained militarised and hierarchical tendencies in Cambodian governance remained firmly in place, as, for example, Slocomb (2001) has outlined in her account of the role of the national defences erected in the north-west in the nation building project of the 1980s. Cambodias international isolation became a campaigning point for the international NGO Oxfam, who had had an office in the country since responding to the starvation conditions in the immediate aftermath of the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge in 1979. Their country representative Eva Mysliwiec (1988b) authored an account of the effects of isolation on Cambodia under the same title as the campaign Punishing the Poor. The international isolation and internationally sponsored civil war only concluded when the collapse of the

Although not totally standard. Vickery (1984), taking exception to what he calls the Standard Total View (1984, p. 36) of the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge period has written about regional variation, instances of resistance and exceptions to the general trends of educated people being victimised and often killed.


Soviet Union led the major powers to conclude that their interests would be better served by finding a face-saving way of switching from undermining the Cambodian state to supporting it44. Timber became a key source of revenue to both government and guerrilla forces, and a key element in their dealings with their respective Vietnamese and Thai patrons. Gottesman45 documents how as early as 1980 Vietnamese and Cambodian officials were involved in logging, and how attempts to control this centrally were frustrated by the participation of both provincial authorities and national officials in the trade (Gottesman, 2004, pp. 156-158). He likewise shows how military units asserted their right to log in order to support themselves (2004, p. 230), and how negotiating timber deals with the Thai authorities became a key part of Cambodian government strategy to attempt to undermine the assistance being given to the guerrilla resistance (2004, p. 291). 4.2.4 UNTAC and Cambodias Second Transition to Democracy The Paris Peace Agreements signed on 23 October 1991 were the outcome of the international realignments following the collapse of the Soviet Union and led to the creation of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia 1992-94 (UNTAC). Over twenty thousand international civilian and military personnel and a budget of over 4 billion US dollars were deployed to support an UNTAC mission which would include enforcing a cease-fire, organising demobilisation of armed factions, returning all refugees from the Thai-Cambodian border, organising democratic elections, and establishing a permanent government. Operating under an advisory council comprising all four of the rival factions, UNTAC was to have direct control over five key policy areas: foreign affairs; defence; finance; public security; information. It also had the right to investigate and sanction those parts of the administration not directly under its control (Matheson, 2001, p. 3). The political parties that emerged under UNTAC differed little in their stated ideologies and platforms. All proclaimed support for the monarchy, Buddhism, and liberal democracy, and all enthusiastically welcomed the prospect of cooperating with the international community to democratize and develop Cambodia. The main parties were descendents of to earlier ruling factions, often featuring survivors from the pre-1975 times. FUNCINPEC (United National Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful, and Cooperative Cambodia), led by Prince Norodom Ranariddh, was a royalist party founded by supporters of Sihanouks rule during the 1960s. The Cambodian Peoples Party (CPP), led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, was the ruling party during the 1980s and had very largely maintained its structures and personnel. The Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party (BLDP) led by Son Sann was descended from the supporters of the pro-US Khmer Republic (1970-75). Absent from that role call of recent Cambodian regimes by the time of the 1993 election were the Khmer Rouge who withdrew from the peace process, boycotted the elections and continued to fight a guerrilla war from their bases in Anlong Veng in northern Cambodia and Pailin in the north-west. Operating now without the international sponsorship that they had previously enjoyed, they intensified their logging operations and trade with Thailand in order to finance themselves (Kiernan, 2002, p. 490). The results of the 1993 election and subsequent formation of a government provoked controversy. FUNCINPEC won 45 percent of the vote and CPP 38 percent, yielding 58 and 51 seats respectively. While scholars are divided regarding the legitimacy of what occurred

Becker (1998, pp. 437-507), a journalist who had worked in Phnom Penh before 1975, in the 2 nd Edition of her history of modern Cambodia provides a particularly rich account of the political processes leading to peace. 45 Gottesman, working as a UN lawyer in Phnom Penh in 1992-4 stumbled across official records of government meetings from the 1980s and wrote a valuable and highly-regarded history of that period based on those sources.


between the announcements of the election and the formation of the new government (Roberts, 2001, pp. 104-120; Vickery, 1999), the requirement of a two-thirds majority to approve a new constitution meant that a coalition government was always the likely outcome and few would disagree with the following summary:
All parties were eventually made aware that without a satisfied CPP in a position of strength, UNTAC and Cambodia could be held hostage. Sihanouk observed that we have to share power equally otherwise the violence cannot end. (Roberts, 2001, p. 112).

In retrospect, UNTAC ambitions to take over the Cambodian administration, establish a neutral civil service and thereby create a neutral and fair environment for elections were never realistic and never came close to being achieved (Doyle, 1995, p. 35; Peou, 1997, p. 197). Drawing conclusions for international peacekeeping Findlay (1995, p. 170) wrote that UNTAC in Cambodia had been a salutary reminder of the limitations of multilateral attempts to fast-track the socio-political re-engineering of a nation-state. Pieterses (2009) observation about the development industry principally achieving paradigm maintenance rather than substantive change seemed to apply perfectly to the UNTAC intervention: the idea of democracy was introduced and recycled, but little impact was made regarding the substantive achievement of democracy. The new, UNTAC drafted constitution, far from constituting Cambodia, became a piece of presentational paraphernalia. In many respects, then, UNTAC, with its ambitious agenda, but its very limited effects (Hughes, 2009, pp. 89-93) provided a parable about the capacity of international interventions to initiate change in Cambodia, and an indicator of what would follow. The partial peace that followed the elections resulted in an intensification of forest exploitation, which became a central issue in the negotiation of power as the country underwent the transition to a market economy. There was sufficient peace to greatly intensify logging in ways which Le Billon (2000, p. 787) interpreted as being in line with both shadow state theory and Southeast Asia regional developments. In those terms, logging was politicized and sustained the power of the army and the political elite and forest dwellers were adversely affected and progressively disempowered by large scale logging. While on the one hand shadow state style clientelist and corrupt governance meant that virtually none of the logging revenues went into the national accounts. On the other hand, winning the competition for these resources and ensuring that former rivals had an (informal) economic stake in a post-conflict landscape, was not part of an extreme predatory shadow state endgame where the leadership attempts to undermine all formal sources of political and economic security for the people, but rather led, Development State style, to peace and stability which enabled the decade of investment and growth which followed from the late 1990s to the late 2000s (Le Billon, 2000). The priority which was given to logging in the personal dealings of the shadow state/Developmental State elite was indicated by the way in which the postelection co-prime ministers Ranariddh and Hun Sen on the day of the investiture of the new government revoked a ban on logging exports and signed a deal with a Thai company allowing them to export 55 000 cubic meters of round logs (Le Billon, 2002, p. 571). Le Billons comments on the international response to forest management during the 1990s, and the effects it had, are relevant to the concerns of this thesis. The international community was critical of the fact that the forest resource was being exploited without transparency and without benefit to the national treasury, and advocated stronger management. According to Le Billon (2002), the Cambodian elite co-opted this agenda and used it to both legalise its own activities and to use logging bans to crack down on small businesses and poorer people who were making a living from timber. Again, then, as was the case with UNTAC, national elites were able to shape development interventions and discourses to their own objectives (good or 78

bad, shadow or developmental). As we will see, however, at least at some times and in some places, the consequences of the logging bans for poor people may have been precisely the opposite to what Le Billon suggested, in other words, opening up rather than closing off opportunities for small-scale operator and labourers (see Chapter 5). 4.2.5 Cambodia Today As we have seen, beginning with Sihanouks coup against the elected government in 1952, four successive regimes in Cambodia had taken power unconstitutionally and by force prior to the 1993 national elections. Lacking a strong sense of security and legitimacy, each regime in turn (and to very differing extents) used state violence and killing in order to suppress real and potential opposition in times of both war and peace. For successive generations of Cambodians, politics has been bloody and dangerous:
A winner-takes-all political culture based on endemic distrust has impeded the development of a civil society, stifled free expression, encouraged cronyism and violence, and exacerbated peoples tendency to distrust and fear those in power (Chandler, 1998, p. 43).

Understandably, therefore, politics remains a sensitive subject associated with danger in the Cambodian countryside. This does not mean that it is never discussed, but it does mean that people are often cautious regarding when and with whom they discuss political issues. Certainly anybody involved in opposition politics will have included in their calculations the risk that retribution, possibly lethal, may follow. This is not just a reflection of the specifics of current politics, but a continuation of the situation since before Independence. Recent political analyses examine the emergence of the current ruling group centred around the Prime Minister Hun Sen, who became prime minister in 1984 following the death of Chan Si and who has retained the position since46. Hughes (2003b) in her account of the political economy of Cambodias transitions during the 1990s argued that Cambodias triple transition from command economy to free market, from war to peace and from authoritarian rule to democracy was dominated by the nature of the transition from command economy to free market. Central to this transition to market, and to what Heder (2005) has called turbo-capitalism, has been a network of commercial, military and political interests linked to the Prime Minister. In recent years, and especially since 2004, the Prime Minister has consolidated power in ways that have been compared with similar trajectory-defining periods elsewhere in Southeast Asia47 (Heder, 2005, p. 125). Possibly the defining feature of the new polity is the extent to which the key political decisions are off the record and outside the mainstream political process, while huge portions of the national economy are off-budget. A recent newspaper article on the children of Cambodias elite does not necessarily overstate the case:
Cambodias official economy largely depends on garments, exports, but there is a much larger shadow economy in which only the ruthless and the well-connected survive and prosper. If youre doing business, you have to know someone high up, so he has your back, says Victor (Marshall, 2009).

By their nature the shadow economy and shadow politics of the shadow state (Le Billon, 2000) are difficult to research or assess. Forests and forest management have attracted

Between the 1993 elections and the fighting of 1997, Hun Sen was officially the Second Prime Minister, whilst the head of FUNCINPEC, Sihanouks son Norodom Ranariddh was First Prime Minister. 47 Philippines in the late 1940s and 1950s, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore in the late 1950s and 1960s and in Indonesia in the late 1960s and 1970s


attention because of the huge amount of money involved, but also because they are so much more visible than other informal flows. Percentages taken off development assistance projects or foreign investments cannot be captured by aerial photography or interviews with rural villagers. While it is clear, not least from the highly visible assets and lifestyles on display in the national capital, that a super-rich (by recent Cambodian standards at least) elite has emerged (Marshall, 2009), the relations of this class and their wealth to the rest of the country are far less clear. Patronage payments circulating in the system might be generating some form of informal, shadow social welfare and safety nets. Some of this is visible in the form of physical infrastructure projects sponsored by senior figures, and is attracting interest in Cambodia from researchers looking at the potential accountabilities involved in mass patronage on the patrimonial side of the neo-patrimonial equation (Craig & Kimchoeun, 2009). However, there remains little empirical basis to answer questions about the wealth circulating in the informal economy, or about the politics of mass incorporation/exclusion in relation to that wealth. Within the formal economy, official statistics have suggested that for the decade to 2006, economic growth has averaged around 8% per annum (Sjberg & Sjholm, 2007). Poverty, meanwhile, has been held by some to have marginally decreased, although this is contested and at other times the same data sources have led analysts to conclude that poverty has marginally worsened. There is, however, agreement that any benefits of growth have been unevenly distributed leading to a society that is becoming more and more unequal. The elite have become much richer whilst the poor have become relatively poorer (World Bank, 2006, 2007b). The steady record of economic growth has been reflected differently in urban and rural landscapes (as well, of course, as within them). In the capital city, Phnom Penh, there have been rapidly rising land prices, a construction boom and, since 1996, a rapidly expanding garment sector that has employed over 300 000 low-skilled, low-waged workers at its peak (Salinger, 2006, p. 1)48. The garment industry, however, is only the most formal and easily monitored of a range of employment opportunities available to people migrating from rural areas. The construction industry has been thriving in all urban centres, and especially in Phnom Penh, providing a similar scale of labour opportunities to the garment industry, but generally on more casual terms - with the gender division of labour, overlaying existing gender relations, meaning that while young women were working 28-30 days a month and returning to the villages en masse on pay day to hand money over to their families, young men were much better placed to negotiate both their own terms of incorporation into the industry and to decide when to go home and how much of their income to share. The Ministry of Labour has reported 200 000 Cambodians working abroad in Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea (Sakada, 2008), and especially in the case of Thailand (where agricultural work in the north-east and construction work in the capital seem to be the main sources of employment), this is likely to be a serious under-estimate. While the clothing industry has provided a labourintensive engine of economic growth, tourism has provided a second engine. Despite at times having the fastest growing tourist industry in the world and attracting increasing numbers of foreign visitors (Chens, Sok, & Sok, 2008, p. 42), the tourist industry, focused mainly on the Angkor temple complex in the north of the country, has fewer links with the rest of the economy, employs few people, and tends to rely on imported goods (World Bank, 2006).

Makin (2006, p. 3) reported 290 000 garment factory workers in 2004, of whom 90% were women, and 72% of those women single. She characterized them as principally rural women sending money home to households with typically 4-9 members.


The economic transformation of the rural landscape has been more partial. After several false starts (with roads being rehabilitated and then rapidly deteriorating to a worse condition than previously) there is now a comprehensive system of all-weather asphalt roads throughout the country. Along these roads, in contrast to the early 1990s, it is common to see parcels of land with boundaries marked by barbed wire fences or brick walls topped with broken glass. Land prices have soared as roadside land is demanded not only for residential and business uses, but also for speculation. The new owners are typically non-locals, not well-protected by the locally secured informal or, as So Sokbunthoeun (2009) aptly terms them, quasi-formal property regimes. There are therefore good reasons for them to take all available measures to secure their property, both by physical means and by paying the fees to acquire sporadic land titles49. District towns, previously little more than rural villages, are often adorned with airconditioned brick residences of a sort unthinkable 15 years ago. Further away from the roads, rice field landscapes and the settlements they host often remain strikingly similar, although it is increasingly common to find brick houses, and even brick boundary walls topped with broken glass or barbed wire in rural villages. Forest landscapes are more likely to have been transformed, with forests often replaced by either temporary waste lands, or by new plantations, and with extensive ribbon development along new roads, as well as new villages. As we have seen, intensive logging of Cambodias forests generated incomes from timber that were key to the off-budget funding of Cambodias shadow state during the 1990s. However, it seems that economic land concessions oriented towards agricultural development, but also largely located on land officially designated as State forest, have taken over from logging concessions as primary earners, and also that elite business interests have now migrated to a greater degree into casinos, coastal resort development and the Phnom Penh construction boom (Sjberg & Sjholm, 2007). Within the agricultural sector, rice farming dominates the landscape physically, comprising 88% of cultivated land, while only providing 54% of crop value and 9% of GDP. Most rice farmers have less than one hectare of rice land, and are therefore not in a position to produce a marketable surplus (or even enough rice for their households consumption). There are areas of the country where either land holdings are larger or land is irrigated where rice farming may be the largest part of a successful family business, however these are exceptions rather than the rule. The idea that Cambodia should improve its agricultural productivity, and various arguments about whether it could or should do have continued for the past decade and a half: in that time, however, rice farming has for the most part continued to be rain-fed and low-input rather than evolving into the more intensive, productive practice that policymakers and developers have envisioned (Sjberg & Sjholm, 2007, pp. 503-507). 4.2.6 The Myth of Dependency in Contemporary Cambodia The political transition which the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia 19924 (UNTAC) was supposed to herald was to a large degree a tradition from one faade to another. Cambodia transited from the appearance of State communism to the appearance of liberal democracy. In fact, as we have seen above, the real political trajectories involved the reassertion of power by the CPP and within the CPP by a faction around the Prime Minister. This was within a process of competition and contestation which started long before UNTAC and continued long after and which was little-affected by the international intervention that

The distinction here is between systematic land titling, where an entire community is titled en masse at the initiative of the state, and sporadic titling, where an individual goes to the land office in order to obtain a title. Prior to the Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP) there was only sporadic titling.


was intended to facilitate change. In this sense, then, UNTAC serves as warning parable regarding what an international development intervention might achieve. The inability of international donors to make any difference to domestic Cambodian politics is highlighted by Heder (2005). He described how the donors acquiesced in Hun Sens consolidation of power in 2004, refusing support to domestic political opponents who criticised Hun Sen on human rights and governance grounds50, but instead universally welcoming the formation of the new coalition, partly justifying this in terms of the sphere of influence politics: if they did not support the government then it would simply receive unconditional support from China. However, as I have suggested above, it is also possible to read the UNTAC process more simply as a transition from isolation to intervention by the West. Instead of financing refugee camps and guerilla armies on the Thai-Cambodian border, the West now sought ways to finance the Cambodian state and the development of its people. Arguably, the real political agenda was not about achieving peace or democracy or even development, but simply enabling the sponsors of Cambodian conflict to exit from those positions without losing face, in order that they could pursue improved relations with each other. Given the scale of official development assistance (ODA) in comparison to national budgets, it is in some ways not surprising that aid dependence began to be a theme in discussions about Cambodia:
For the period of 1992-2000, external assistance disbursements totalled to US 3.67 billion. Bilateral and NGO organizations provided US 2.4 billion or 64.50% of total; the balance is financed by multi-lateral organisations; all of these accounted for 50% of total public expenditure. From 1992-1999, ODA [Official Development Assistance] continued to increase by an average of 9.1% annually (Chhieng, 2001).

The idea of Cambodia becoming dependent on aid was intensified by commentators who followed Cambodia during the 1980s and drew unfavourable comparisons between the (possibly exaggerated) level of responsibility and self-reliance demonstrated the state before and after the UNTAC intervention (e.g. Curtis, 1994). Nevertheless, the aid dependent literature has indicated a number of ways in which intervention might feed certain pathologies. These include: international financial assistance removing incentives for the government to collect revenues or provide services (Chhieng, 2001); international technical assistance substituting for and marginalizing national capacity rather than building it (Godfrey et al., 2002); aid programs, even when claimed to be national or nationally-owned, being piecemeal, uncoordinated and tending to pay civil servants to neglect their government job in favour of the donor program (Godfrey et al., 2002); policy instruments such as Financial Policy Frameworks, Medium Term Expenditure Frameworks, Poverty Reduction Strategies and other national planning documents introduced to Cambodia during the last decade providing legitimate access points for donors rather than in any way guiding the development of the nation (Biddulph, 2001b). Overall, though, this narrative of dependence is highly misleading. The idea of dependence here is misleading: the fact that it has been sustained for as long as it has is surely partly symptomatic of the post-colonial and Development imaginary which sees poor countries as resembling small children with rich countries in loco parentis (Baaz, 2002). As we have already seen, the determinants of Cambodian politics and


Heder notes the irony of the fact that having refused support to the domestic opposition that western donors and organisations released a flurry of highly critical donor and other assessments of Cambodias governance, poverty reduction and human rights protection, slamming previous Hun Sen governments lack of political will to achieve any of these goals (Heder, 2005, p. 124).


economic are long-term; much of the crucial political and economic action in the country happens off-stage in the shadows. Foreign money and foreign advisors have been allowed to colonise many of the more visible and formal areas of public administration and policy, but to imagine that Cambodia is dependent on this is an unwarranted leap. Caroline Hughes in a recent book argues that the informal economy has been a key source of funds enabling Cambodias leadership to resist donor pressures:
There is no doubt that the amount of unofficial funding available to the government, at least on a temporary basis, considerably outweighs the amount of international aid that might be cut by donors determined to establish conditions that the Cambodian government repeatedly fails to meet (Hughes, 2009, pp. 161-162).

If the control of the informal economy makes for shadow state activities of extreme enrichment, however, it has also been accompanied by Developmental State achievements in terms of macro-economic and political stability as well as the delivery of respectable figures in terms of economic growth, human development and poverty reduction (Hughes, 2009, p. 163). With China offering substantial funds, and with the prospect of offshore oil in the Gulf of Thailand, there is every prospect that the Cambodian leadership will continue to be able to continue to do its key business in the shadows, and to pursue strategies of its own choosing.


Immanent Development: A Geography of Tenure Insecurity in Cambodia

In Chapter 2 we saw how the literature on property rights interventions focuses on tenure security as the fundamental element leading to potential benefits from those interventions. For an individual rights holder, it is the security of tenure which gives the confidence to invest in land, gives credit suppliers the confidence to lend to the land-owner, and which give buyers and sellers the confidence to transact land in the market. For common property rights holders it is the ability to exclude others from the land and its resources which provides the fundamental difference between the potentials of a functioning common property regime and the almost inevitable tragedies of open access regimes. In Chapter 3 we saw how the threat to villagers security of tenure in Bey prompted an interest in tenure security, and attempts to guarantee it, in this thesis. Immanent development, meanwhile, a synonym for political economy or political ecology, was characterised as embodying the struggles between Development and development (Hart, 2001, 2010), or between the disembedding and re-embedding tendencies inherent in capitalism (Polanyi, 2001). In taking up Bebbingtons (2000, 2003, 2004) proposition to map immanent development in terms of poverty and livelihoods, it was therefore logical, as I explained in Chapter 3, that in this thesis tenure insecurity should be the immanent development variable to be mapped. 4.3.1 The Emergence of Tenure Insecurity as a Political Problem It was in the mid-1990s, at the juncture where the CPP leadership was establishing its primacy over its coalition partners/rivals at the same time as finalising the victory over the Khmer Rouge that the issue of rural land tenure security began to be prominent in Cambodia. Political analysts, observing the gradual success of the governments defections policy looked for other potential sources of instability51. Land disputes were often presented as the most likely source of any future troubles, with the problem being made visible by newspaper

I remember reading articles to this effect at different times between 1996 and 2000 and also to meeting risk analysis consultants looking at tenure insecurity in the context of political stability, although I have not been able to track down specific references to these.


reports of land grabs, angry speeches by the Prime Minister and a stream of victims of forced eviction camping outside the parliament building and requesting help (Ear, 2005; Hay, 2007). In 1999 reviewing land issues literature, Williams wrote:
During the course of preparation of this review, local Cambodian newspapers carried almost daily stories of court cases and protests by farmers' dispossessed by officials and military officers who have misused their authority. Sales of public property for personal gain, including ministerial head offices, schools and land within national parks were openly reported and unprosecuted (S. Williams, 1999, p. 3).

The first comprehensive documentation of an individual case was a study of land expropriation by local authorities in north-west Cambodia (Kato, 1999). In that case, refugees repatriated from the Thai-Cambodian border had been allocated land and land titles near a village in Battambang province. However, a portion of the land had been sold to unidentified, non-local buyers. The returnees had received official titles from the cadastral office, and also had a letter recognizing these as legitimate from the commune52 chief. However, they were unable to farm the land that they had been allocated. Informal militia recruited by the unknown buyer forcibly kept them off the land. Despite high profile support from various national and international organisations, and the unquestionable legitimacy of their claim, the returnees never gained access to their land. Various rounds of protest came to nothing and eventually disintegrated as some families accepted payments from the buyers agents and others drifted away in search of other land and livelihood opportunities53. This first case typified the way that land disputes would come to be seen: pitting groups of poor people against powerful but often shadowy alliances between private businesses and senior political or military figures. The depiction of land disputes as the result of the predatory activities of business and military elites operating with the complicity of the authorities was not only promoted by NGOs and the media. The Prime Minister himself repeatedly characterised land disputes in precisely the same way, and presented himself as a champion of the poor in such struggles.
...some well-to-do government officials put up fences on land for speculation ... and they are no ordinary people but people with power and rich merchants ... I will never side with them but support our peoples claim ...I will inform the villagers to take back their land with my full support ...(the Cambodian) people must have the priority to development, not the investors (Sen, 1998, p. 4).

And, employing a formulation that would be repeated verbatim in successive speeches, (Sen, 2000a, p. 4, 2000b, p. 4):
I have taken personal interest in addressing many cases of illegal land grabbing. The RGC has recently confiscated many plots of land grabbed by some powerful, crooked officials and given them back to the state or to their previous owners (Sen, 1999b, p. 6).

During the following decade a number of NGOs involved in land issues began compiling data on land disputes. While none of these were comprehensive, they did yield some statistics and analysis. Coopers (2002) review of the reports from four NGOs with major land case loads in


Commune is the lowest formal level of government in Cambodia, and the next administrative level up from the village. 53 After Katos original study highlighting the case I was able to follow it up when I evaluated the development NGO supporting the villagers in 2000 (when I stayed with the village chief in the village) and on later evaluations of the effectiveness of support provided by human rights and legal aid NGOs in land conflict cases (Biddulph, 2003a).


2001 suggested that allowing for some overlap that perhaps there were about 240 cases pitting 200 000 poor people against powerful opponents in large scale land disputes . A recent analysis of cases reported in the media in 2008 by the NGO Forum on Cambodias Land Information Centre (LIC), found that over 80% of the disputes were long-standing and remain unsolved (Land Information Centre, 2009). In this sample cases on average involved 200 complainants, and average land size under contest was 50 hectares (Land Information Centre, 2008, 2009). Research findings confirm the profile of the protagonists reproduced by the NGOs and the Prime Minister. The LIC analysis was based on information from 107 cases54 and found that the defendants were in 30% of cases private companies; 21% military authorities; 21% unknown; 20% local (up to district) authorities; 4% provincial/national authorities; 3% community and 2% police (Land Information Centre, 2009, p. 8). An earlier study looking at rural landlessness found that 74% of households who reported having had their land taken from them, identified the provincial administration or the military authorities as responsible (Biddulph, 2000c, p. 2). The exact classifications, however, may be of limited value given that the identity of buyers is often quite uncertain. Private sector actors will need to recruit the support of civilian authorities and/or a credible security force, and may prefer to keep their identity concealed behind those of their local clients; conversely, if a member of the authorities, civilian or military, is engaged as a private investor they may prefer to conceal this by implying that they are agents for another, wealthier, better-connected actor. A study completed in 2006 looked in detail at seven land in two provinces in Cambodia, and sought to learn more about the way in which collective action was triggered and the extent to which it might be harnessed to increase the responsiveness of the state to the needs of the poor (Center for Advanced Study, 2006, p. 8). Collective strategies were focused on patrimonial rather than legal-administrative solutions: in other words villagers employed a variety of tactics in pursuit of a single strategy, that is, to get a powerful administrative decision maker to intervene on their behalf (Center for Advanced Study, 2006, p. 37). The authors found that frustration with the disputes was giving rise to uncertainty, frustration and political pressure (Center for Advanced Study, 2006, p. 38). The sense that land grabs continue to represent a threat to social stability continues up to the present time. Leading human rights organizations in Cambodia, both international (UNOHCHR, 2007) and national (see Chakrya, 2009; Licadho, 2009) continue to highlight land rights abuses as central to their case loads. A case reported in the media at the time of our final field visit in March 2009 was illustrative of both the violent resentment that may be generated by land rights abuses, and of the potential for them to rebound on politicians. In March 2009 a security guard in Phnom Penh violently attacked the 70 year old senator whose house he was guarding. The guard had owned land on the outskirts of the city, but it had been taken from him. The senator had not personally been involved in the case, but the guard was overwhelmed with anger and frustration towards all high level officials and vented this general frustration against that whole class on the nearest available target (Macan-Markar, 2009). The sense that land disputes are a politically flammable issue that could potentially lead to social unrest is, of course, balanced by the fact that after over a decade of disputes, despite the sense of anger and injustice, and despite daily national newspaper headlines and the continuation since the 1990s of the succession of dispossessed villagers camping outside the parliament building or the Prime Ministers residence to plead their cases, there have been no serious breakdowns of law and order. Grievances have remained but the aggrieved have

Total sample was 173 cases. Information on defendant available for 107 cases.


been effectively pacified, often having been adopted by a succession of NGOs each of whom made a series of interventions on their behalf but ultimately moved on to other cases (Biddulph, 2003a). 4.3.2 Landlessness was not a Tenure Security Issue Another problem which came to prominence at the same time as land disputes in rural areas, and was often linked with tenure insecurity and dispossession, was the issue of rural landlessness (e.g. Sen, 1999a, p. 7). To some extent this was also a product of the same anxious worries about alternative sources of instability and danger when the Khmer Rouge threat finally started receding. Rural landlessness seemed to be a significant and growing phenomenon: national socio-economic surveys in 1997 and 1999 found landlessness to be 13.0% and 15.8% respectively55, but shed no light on the causes. A piece of research commissioned by an international NGO in 1999 56 (Biddulph, 2000d), made it clear that landlessness was chiefly related to poverty, and would have been growing at about the same rate regardless of whether tenure security had been a problem or not. Expropriation and land disputes (i.e. lack of tenure security) simply were not a major cause of landlessness. In a sample of 145 villages comprising over 30 000 households, 13% were found to be landless. Only a small fraction (6.2%) of those landless households reported having become landless as a result of expropriation. Overwhelmingly, the landless had either never owned land (55%), or had sold the land they had as a result of financial pressures (39%) often related to an episode of ill health. A later iteration of this research using a smaller sample which was arguably more nationally representative57 yielded a comparable level of landlessness (11.9%), but found that less than one percent (4 of 526) of landless households reported having had their land taken from them (Biddulph, 2004). Households who had never owned land were either younger couples who had got married since the 1980s and had not received land, or were households that had moved around, often former refugees who had been in camps during the 1980s when land was distributed, and had arrived in new villages where there was no available land for clearance, and where they had insufficient capital to buy. Poor Cambodians could have been blessed with the most secure private property rights in the world, but these households who had never had land, and those who had needed to sell would nevertheless have become landless. The only possible link to tenure security suggested by the landlessness research related to the security of public land: a theme to which we will return. Despite this conclusive evidence that landlessness was not a product of expropriations (i.e. lack of tenure security) the myth remained prevalent. The two issues have continued to be

Differences in method suggested that it was not possible to interpret this as meaning that landlessness increased by 2.8% in the two year period, but that the two figures give a reasonable idea of the possible scale of the problem from a nationally representative sample (Biddulph, 2004, p. 8). 56 The research was conducted not only as an exercise in discovering the causes of landlessness, but also to raise awareness amongst development workers and organizations of the problem of landlessness and to generate lessons about the extent to which existing practice was effective in either preventing landlessness or assisting households that had become landless. In accordance with that goal, organizations were encouraged to volunteer to conduct research in the villages where they worked. The sample of 45 organizations and 145 villages generated in this way therefore reflected biases in the organizations choices of location. Nevertheless the similarity between the headline landlessness figure in the research and that in national statistics, as well as the broad geographical coverage (15 out of 24 provinces) lent some credence to the results. 57 The sample design was not in fact representative as it drew samples in equal number from the four agroecological zones of Cambodia whose share of the national population varied by a factor of over ten (Biddulph, 2004, p. 13)


linked, and a causal relationship often suggested, as the following citation from a recent UNDP report on land and human security illustrates:
However, many rural households in Cambodia suffer either from landlessness or near landlessness, or lack of formal property rights to the land they live on...A likely consequence of the many disputes is that landlessness or near landlessness is also on the rise (UNDP, 2007, p. 11)

Having introduced the issue of tenure insecurity, and established it as a significant social problem, though not the driver of rural landlessness that it was sometimes misrepresented as, we can now turn to its geography. 4.3.3 Regional Distribution of Tenure Insecurity The most reliable available proxy for tenure insecurity is the records of cases where people have reported being dispossessed. Such cases are recorded on land dispute databases held by various organizations engaged in land rights work. These record cases where there are five or more parties to a land dispute, and thus potentially provide a geographical overview of tenure insecurity. Unfortunately, the databases have not been well-maintained, and have not been shared by the agencies, so it has not been possible to achieve a national overview of the problem of tenure insecurity (Biddulph, 2003a)58. According to Kato, during the 1990s:
Expropriation especially expropriation of large tracts of land appears to happen most frequently in the northwest, particularly to returnees and internally displaced people whose occupancy of the land is either recent or who were forced to abandon the area at some point because of the war. However, cases of eviction have been reported throughout Cambodia (Kato, 1999, p. 1).

These two statements that tenure security is prevalent throughout Cambodia and particularly in the north-west of the country appear to be borne out by subsequent reports. Coopers review of data, for example, noted that the most cases were found in Battambang and Banteay Meanchey in the north-west, in Kandal in the centre of the country, in Kampot in the south-west and in Kampong Cham in the eastern central part of the country (Cooper, 2002). Recently, NGOs, while still not managing to combine their data to produce a decent statistical overview are at least starting to map some of their own cases. One of the countrys two leading national human rights NGOs, The Cambodian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), recently published a report documenting a steep rise in the number of dispute cases that it is involved in. The map of the cases where they are providing support shows that there are land disputes in all of the provinces where they work (see Figure 4-1), and that the north-western provinces of Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Siem Reap are particularly prone to disputes (Licadho, 2009, p. 5)


The NGO Forums Land Information Centre was in the process of addressing this gap in the course of this research, but had only produced a pilot study report (Land Information Centre, 2008) and an analysis of cases in the media in 2008 (Land Information Centre, 2009).


Figure 4-1: Land Disputes in Cambodia Monitored by Human Rights NGO LICADHO 2003-2008. Source: (Licadho, 2009, p. 5)

The NGO Forum Land Information Centre (LIC) used the data from 173 cases recorded from local media during the year 2008 to generate maps showing both provincial aggregates (Figure 4-2) and individual dispute locations (Figure 4-3).


Source: Land Information Centre, 2009, p.10

Figure 4-2: Land Disputes in Cambodia Reported in the Cambodian Media 2008


Source: Land Information Centre, 2009, p. 2 Figure 4-3: Location of Land Disputes Reported in the Cambodian Media 2008

A refining of the throughout Cambodia geography, however, comes from a 2006 study commissioned by the World Bank and the federally owned German Gesellschaft fr Technische Zusammenarbeit. The purpose of the report was to review the effectiveness of donor-supported government land dispute mechanisms, but amongst the authors key findings was:
Ownership of the well established rice farming land which makes up the bulk of Cambodian land holdings is relatively uncontentious as compared with other sorts of land holdings, particularly chamcar land, common pool resources and land which was cleared by the parties themselves (Adler et al., 2006, p. ix)

This suggests that while land disputes are everywhere in the sense of being found in all rural provinces, there may be certain sorts of land that are more vulnerable than others, and that a closer look at the geography might yield a more differentiated picture. Alert to this warning, I will now seek to explain the geography of land disputes in Cambodia in relation to their causes.


4.3.4 Explanation Cambodia underwent a triple transition during the late 1980s and early 1990s. A transition from a planned to a market economy, from conflict to peace and from authoritarian rule to formal democracy, with the transition to a market economy seen as the dominant of those transitions (Hughes, 2003a). While the idea that Cambodia has been democratising has been convincingly rejected as an explanatory framework (jendal & Lilja, 2009), the transitions to market and to peace provide the key dimensions to explaining the geography of tenure insecurity in Cambodia in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Rice Farming Landscapes and the Transition to Market.

The majority of the Cambodian population are rural smallholders. The dramatic changes in the political systems and formal institutions for managing land during the half-century since Independence suggests that the tenure rights of smallholder households have changed radically and often. During the 1960s landholdings were based on a combination of what households had received from their parents and what they had cleared themselves. By farming their land, households established and maintained their right to that land. During the Khmer Rouge rule 1975-79 all private ownership was abolished. All farming was communal, and the state exercised the right to decide where people would live, often separating families, setting people to work in mobile labour gangs, and relocating whole populations often for reasons relating to security and regime survival. In 1979 one communist regime replaced another as the Vietnamese supported Peoples Republic of Kampuchea supplanted the Khmer Rouges Peoples Democracy of Kampuchea. Again, farming was to be communal, with the state owning all land and villages organised into krom samaki (solidarity groups) of about ten households per group. Land was to be redistributed equally amongst the population according on the basis of family size and available labour. A transition to market was mentioned in political speeches from 1985, some private ownership was allowed from 1986 and land was formally redistributed to farmers in 1989. The passage of the 1992 Land Law, established the mechanisms by which individuals could set about obtaining ownership title, which set in motion a titling process that was never completed 59 (Sovannarith et al., 2001, p. 188; S. Williams, 1999, pp. 7-9). Despite these apparent upheavals, however, there was in fact a large element of continuity in land ownership and land use for individual farming households. When land was redistributed to the solidarity groups in 1979 it was often done in such a way that in practice families returned to farming the land that they had owned prior to 1975. In other cases, land was claimed on a first come, first served basis after 1979, and then those patterns of ownership confirmed under the supposedly communal farming arrangements. In addition to land that was officially under communal farming, households were often also able to clear land from nearby forests and this was treated wholly as private (Kusakabe, Yunxian, & Kelkar, 1995, p. 89). Communal farming, furthermore, was often only practiced for a short time, sometimes only for the year or so that it took to overcome the acute shortage of rice seed, draft animals and other inputs in the immediate aftermath of the Khmer Rouge regime (S. Williams, 1999, p. 8). As one history of the 1979-1989 period concludes, this was in fact a time when the free market flourished and the PRK encouraged the family economy and made this the foundation of its rural legitimacy (Slocomb, 2003, p. 263). There has been no comprehensive research on the various ways in which land redistribution was interpreted and implemented,

Applications were made and receipts for these applications were issued. The titling process was never completed, however the receipts, which looked a little like a birds wing and were known locally as chicken wing forms were kept by many households as a proxy for a title.


but it is clear that in some places there was a genuine attempt by local authorities to follow the central directive to redistribute, whilst in others there was basically a return to former ownership patterns. Gottesman found that the system of collectivization had already failed, and cited central government discussions of particularly unruly cases where local cadre had been involved in selling off the best land on the private market and leaving only the poorest lands to be farmed collectively (Gottesman, 2004, pp. 272-273). I have not heard similar stories to this during my years in the Cambodian countryside, so suspect that these were exceptional cases, nevertheless what is clear is that the redistribution of communal land that is commonly referred to as having occurred after the Vietnamese withdrew their support in 1989 was simply a question of the legislation catching up with something that had already happened up to a decade previously. Buying and selling of land, meanwhile, occurred as early as the very early 1980s, as has been made clear by interviews with landless households (Biddulph, 2000d). There has always been a degree of stigma attached to trading of land the social norm is to farm the land and then to hand it on to your children - but it has also been a recognised and accepted part of village life and of coping with crises60. While there was no legal way to transfer land privately during the 1980s, transactions were secured by either community recognition or informal written contracts by the transacting parties or the local authorities or an informal witnessing of the transaction by the village chief (or some combination of these). These practices continued after formal privatisation in 1989 and the passage of the 1992 Land Law as land transactions became legally possible, but only through channels which were never realistically available to poor rural households. In practice, then, for rural smallholders, the transition from planned to market economy had little or no effect on their tenure arrangements as land was already effectively under private ownership. Overall, the norms relating to land tenure of smallholder agricultural land remained consistent. Possession and de facto ownership were established by farming land. Families could acquire land by inheritance, and could also expand their holdings by clearing new land at the edge of the village. Selling and buying land were likewise recognised and accepted ways of acquiring or disposing of land, but with selling a reluctant response to crisis. My experiences of carrying out research into the causes of landlessness led me into countless conversations with rural Cambodians who had sold their land between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. I had the impression of a well-functioning local land market where selling and buying were not problematic, and therefore of rather secure tenure arrangements. As Adler et al. pointed out, only 1.8% of plots in the 2004 socio-economic survey were reported as ever having been subject to a conflict, with two-thirds of those disputes already resolved, leading them to conclude that tenure in Cambodia is more secure than is generally assumed (Adler, Porter, & Woolcock, 2008, p. 2). Adler is particularly interesting on the subject of the urban fringe around Phnom Penh. The city has been expanding and investors have been acquiring ever larger tracts of land outside Phnom Penh, effectively transforming it from rural to urban. However, this process has been geographically differentiated. Various sorts of public and common such as lakes and marshes have been expropriated by investors through opaque deals with authorities. In the case of rice lands however, and regardless of whether the owners have official title or not, investors have acquired the land by purchase.


Interview 178, with a provincial cadastral official in Takeo.


State Land and the Transition to Market.

If tenure of smallholder agricultural land was generally secure, where did the protests about land grabbing and dispossession which attracted the headlines in Phnom Penh come from? While the informal arrangements around rural smallholdings have remained stable and governed by the same norms and practices through the decades, the same continuity has not been found with other land. After the signing of the Peace Agreements in 1991 and the formal change from the Peoples Republic of Kampuchea to the State of Cambodia, there was suddenly a situation where the State had vast assets, no legal way to divest itself of those assets, and no intention to continue with a command economy. In Phnom Penh the consequences were rapid and visible: State factories and other assets were sold off by ministry officials, provoking protests by suddenly unemployed former workers, and the violent suppression of such protests (Sanger, 1991)61. In the countryside a similar vacuum was created. Suddenly, all land which had not been under the plough was subject to contest. And at all levels this became an unfair contest between people who could mobilise the authority of the state, and much poorer people who lacked such connections. Previously, the land between villages had been forest or scrub which provided a reserve of agricultural land which could be cleared as the population expanded, as well as a source of food and firewood. Suddenly, villagers discovered that all of the land between the villages, which previously had no owner in their eyes, was now privately owned (Biddulph, 2000d). Small areas of communal land held in trust by local authorities rapidly became the private property of village chiefs and their families, while vast areas of forest and scrub were turned over to national and international business interests as agricultural or forestry concessions (Van Acker, 1999, p. 54). In addition to the intensified logging and granting of timber concessions already discussed, the State began issuing Economic Land Concessions, mainly for plantation agriculture, again with limited compliance with relevant legislation (UNOHCHR, 2007, p. 49). In addition to the 943,069 hectares of economic land concessions documented, there have been rumours of land deals struck with foreign governments for huge areas (Minder, 2008), as well as a brief flirtation during 2008-9 with the policy of allowing provincial governors to issue concessions of up to 1000 hectares. None of these is on land that is in any way empty or unclaimed. In addition to various authorities jostling to broker investment deals there has also been a steady flow of migrants into forested regions looking to secure new agricultural land. Any Cambodian household using or occupying land in forest or forest margins has tenure that is insecure in the extreme. In many respects, then, the division that Alden Wily made in Africa seems to apply well to Cambodia: smallholder agricultural and residential land is relatively secure, whilst other public or commons land to which people have had various de facto rights is extremely insecure (Alden Wily, 2008 see chapter 2) The Transition to Peace.

Following the ouster of the Khmer Rouge regime by Cambodian defectors supported by the Vietnamese army in 1979 came a period where the primary sources of regional difference in the Cambodian countryside were security related. The prolonged guerrilla war which took place from 1979 did not reach many parts of central Cambodia which effectively enjoyed peace from that time on. The resistance forces, with their bases and supply lines among the

I was resident in Phnom Penh at the time and recall being out on the streets on one of the evenings when people were protesting in the streets and police accidentally shot dead a bystander watching from a balcony above the angry crowd.


refugee camps on the Thai border were most effective in the north-west of the country, but also established bases in the forests in north-east and south-west of the country. After the peace process and UN sponsored elections in 1993 the Khmer Rouge continued their struggle, which was not finally ended until the death in 1998 of Pol Pot and the integration of the final remnants of the Khmer Rouge military into either the national military or civilian society. As a result of this conflict large tracts of the country, especially in the north-west, but also in the south, south-west and north-east of the country were insecure. The combination of military activity and risk of land-mines meant that much cultivable land remained unoccupied. As peace came, these areas opened up. Families in search of land, including many of the 350 000 former refugees from the Thai-Cambodian border, moved in. At the same time, military commanders often had their own plans for that land, thus many of the land conflicts that were documented during the late 1990s involved a single commander on the one side in conflict with sixty or seventy households on the other side. During the 1990s the places with most fighting and the largest and longest military presence were those worst afflicted by widespread tenure insecurity (Cooper, 2002). Related to this were land conflicts along the Thai-Cambodian border. The refugees who had lived in the camps in Thailand during the 1980s had well-established livelihoods there. They had the connections required to engage in cross-border trading or smuggling, and to access casual labour markets in agriculture and construction. Many of these people having returned to Cambodia found it difficult to establish themselves and often came back to the border in order to earn a living. Large informal settlements grew up along the border, and especially near the main crossing point between Poipet in Cambodia and Aranyaprathet in Thailand (NPA, 2003). Meanwhile, this land was also prime real estate, not least for the construction of casinos and hotels which could be built on Cambodian soil in order to cater for wealthy Thai clients (casinos being illegal in Thailand). As a consequence there has been a series of settlements and often violent evictions in the Poipet area (for example CHRAC, 2005; Woodsome, 2005). It is thus a combination of insecurely resettled returned refugees, military interests, a population which has been more prone to displacement by fighting and land-mines than in other parts of the country, and lucrative investment opportunities along the national border that have made the north-west particularly prone to tenure insecurity. 4.3.5 Immanent Development and Tenure Insecurity in Summary The consequences for tenure security of Cambodias transitions to market and to peace were minimal in the areas where smallholder rice farming had been practiced since the ouster of the Khmer Rouge in 1979. Both peace and markets had come to these places a decade before the 1991 peace agreement and the 1993 Constitution, and villagers relations to land were firmly established within long-standing social norms. By contrast, areas that had formerly been under State management, or under conflict, were subject to competing claims, often including competition between settlements of poor people and well connected military commanders or business people. In such situations, poor peoples tenure has been extremely insecure. A 2002 report looking into land policy and conflicts in Cambodia pieced together data from various organisations involved in land related conflicts, concluded that by the end of 2001 there were at least 200,000 poor Cambodians involved in land disputes with powerful people including generals, high government officials and large businesses (Cooper, 2002, p. 8). The idea that tenure insecurity is throughout Cambodia is justifiable in the sense that it is found in all provinces to a greater or lesser extent. On the other hand, it is not prevalent on all sorts of land. Up to this point, whether as a result of the ruling partys political allegiance to the population who remained in place during the 1980s, or because of a respect for the rice 94

farming norms that have been seen as central to Khmer culture, it appears that the smallholder rice lands where the majority of the population have their residential and farmland have remained secure.

4.4 Intentional Development: A Geography of Property Rights Interventions in Cambodia

4.4.1 Systematic Land Titling In 1992, following the 1991 peace agreements, the Cambodian government passed a new land law and began the process of issuing land titles to all citizens who had occupied their land peacefully for five years or more. Four million applications were made for title, of which 15% were reportedly processed62. However, the States bureaucratic capacity could not match its vision and the process ran out of steam. A request was made by the government in 1995 for donors to assist with a land titling process. Eventually, after a number of pilot projects financed principally by the Finnish and German governments, a Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP) was agreed63. Originally this was a 5-year programme running from 2002 until 2007, with a total cost of 33.4 million USD financed respectively by the International Development Association of the World Bank (23.4 million USD); the Government of Finland (3.5 million); the Federal Republic of Germany (3.5 million USD); the Royal Government of Cambodia (3.0 million USD). The project consisted of 5 components, as follows: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Development of land policy and regulatory framework. Institutional development. Land titling programme and development of a land registration system. Strengthening mechanisms for dispute resolution. Land management.

It is component 3 which is the focus of interest for this study. Two sorts of land titling are distinguished: systematic land titling and sporadic land titling. Systematic land titling refers to a process whereby a whole community is surveyed at the same time and titles issued en masse. This is systematic in the sense that survey teams can cover each district, commune by commune and each commune village by village until all of the land in an administrative area has been titled. Systematic land titling was the central element in the LMAP titling programme; the other components can be seen as providing the regulatory and institutional framework to enable systematic land titling to succeed. Sporadic land titling refers to cases where person/legal entity in an area which has not yet been titled makes an application to get their land individually titled. Typically, it is non-local buyers who have used sporadic land titling to secure their purchase of land in the Cambodian countryside. In a pre-study for the LMAP project, sporadic land titling was identified as a source of tenure insecurity in rural areas, as outsiders could potentially develop a legal claim, supported by documentation, for land used by rural dwellers without such documentation (Sovannarith et al., 2001). The local origins and motivation to the land titling programme could be traced to the Cambodian government wish to complete the process which it had begun but been unable to

Williams (1999, p. 10) suggests there should be some scepticism about this figure by noting that many commentators question this figure both how it can be so large, and how in practice a count was accomplished. 63 Unless otherwise specified, information below comes from the Project Appraisal Document (World Bank, 2002)


complete in 1992, and to speeches made by the Prime Minister emphasising the importance of secure land titles (World Bank, 2002, p. 9). The projects overall goals were to reduce poverty, stimulate economic development, promote social stability and improve environmental management, and these were to be achieved via its specific objectives which were to improve land tenure and promote the development of efficient land markets (World Bank, 2002, p. 2). These goals and objectives were set in the context of a project description which related tenure insecurity to a lack of investment:
It is overwhelmingly clear to both government and donors that the overriding problem and the one with the greatest contributed to poverty is lack of land tenure security (and the associated landlessness) and restricted access to common property resources. Symptoms of the problem are clear from the rising number of landless people due to forced or distressed sales and the high number of land disputes clogging the judicial and other institutions for resolving land conflicts. (World Bank, 2002, p. 3). There are suggestions that state agents such as the military and politically connected people have dispossessed people of their land which is being facilitated by the lack of formal recognition of rights on these lands (World Bank, 2002, p. 3). The economy has also been growing steadily, an average annual rate of about 5 percent per year. However, unclear rules governing rights to land threaten both political stability and economic development (World Bank, 2002, p. 3).

Finally, the low output of Cambodian rice farming compared with the remainder of the region was highlighted, and it was posited that increasing tenure security would remove a barrier to investment in irrigation:
Lack of clear title is also hindering economic growth in Cambodia by reducing incentives to invest...Rice output in Cambodia is enough to feed the average family for only seven months a year. Low yields are primarily due to low investments in water control technologies essential to take full advantage of high yielding rice varieties...Low investment in agriculture is in part a result of lack of security over rights to land (World Bank, 2002, p. 4).

During the course of the research for this thesis the World Bank repeatedly presented the systematic titling under LMAP as having the potential to transform smallholder agriculture in Cambodia by removing the primary binding constraint to agricultural growth, namely illdefined property rights (World Bank, 2006, p. 74). It was claimed that titled land would in consequence deliver yields that were 73% greater than untitled land, meaning that the issuance of one million titles would enable 438,345 individuals to escape from poverty and would reduce the national poverty rate by 3.36%. These impressive figures were derived from a study (Deininger, 2005) which unfortunately was impossible to locate during the research64, but which in turn appears to be based on very unreliable answers from the 2004 Cambodia Socio-Economic Survey (Markussen, 2008, p. 2280)65. If the claims made on behalf of the LMAP project were somewhat doubtful, its success in delivering outputs both ahead of schedule and at a lower than anticipated cost was indubitable

Two colleagues of Deininger who were in possession of the report suggested that I contact him directly for a copy. Deininger (who given his prominence no doubt receives a very large amount of correspondence from fellow researchers) did not respond to my communications. 65 According to the survey responses 21% of parcels of land held official title. This was not feasible in 2004, before LMAP was implemented. The answers may relate to receipts issued during the abortive registration and titling begun in 1992 by the Cambodian government, or it may have been that respondents felt it was in their best interests to claim that they had title even when they didnt. Instructions given to enumerators failed to clarify the matter (Markussen, 2008, p. 2280).


likewise its track record in building up the technical capacity of the staff employed by the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction (Anttonen, 2010). The project was extended twice and was eventually completed on 31st December 200966. By its original completion date, it had delivered 794,639 signed titles to land owners, thereby exceeding the project document target of 760 000 (World Bank, 2009a, p. 8). With 700 trained staff working in registration teams in 11 provinces, producing on average 20 000 legally registered titles per month this reflected an impressive training and management effort (Sovann, 2005). With titles costing less than 10 USD per parcel to produce, it has also reportedly been the most cost-efficient land titling system in the Southeast Asia region (FINNMAP, 2008). Despite its successes in achieving intended outputs, the project was not without controversy during the course of this research. World Bank complaints about procurement processes, strongly disputed by the LMAP project director, led to an international procurement agent being appointed for the project (World Bank, 2009a), and then late in 2009 a group of NGOs working with urban communities in Phnom Penh initiated a complaints procedure against the Bank staff on the project via the World Banks Inspection Panel (World Bank Inspection Panel, 2009). That complaint related to the inability of a group of urban dwellers living around a lake in Phnom Penh to get their tenure secured by the project. The issues raised in the urban complaint where does the project go, and where does it not go, reflect the concerns of this research in rural areas, and we will return to that later. Geographical Distribution

In rural areas, the focus of this research project, LMAP systematic land titling has been implemented in the seven provinces and two municipalities67. As can be seen in Figure 4-4, the northeast of the country, has not been included. These four provinces play host to forestdwelling ethnic minority communities. The west and north-west of the country has also largely been avoided. This is another part of the country with large expanses of forest. The main concentrations of titling have therefore been in central and southern Cambodia. Data available at district level gives the impression that the titling programme covers more territory than is actually the case: within these districts only some communes will have been titled, and within those communes it is only private land that has been fully adjudicated and titled. Selected State land, in particular the sites of public utilities such as wells and schools have been titled, but other State land remains untitled. What the villages that have been titled in rural areas have in common is that they are located in the landscapes of the well established rice farming land which makes up the bulk of Cambodian land holdings (Adler et al., 2006, p. ix).


LMAP is one in a series of projects coordinated by the Ministry of Land Management Urban Planning and Construction as part of a programme which will envisages registering and titling all land in Cambodia within about 15 years. LMAP was superseded in 2009 by the Land Administration Sub-Sectoral Project (LASSP), which continues to be supported by Finland and Germany but no longer by the World Bank. 67 Provinces of Battambang, Kampong Cham, Kampong Speu, Kampong Thom, Kampot, Kandal, Prey Veng, Siem Reap, Takeo. Municipalities of Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh. Whilst provinces are notionally rural and municipalities are notionally urban, all municipalities include some rural areas, and provinces all include urban areas.


Figure 4-4: Districts in Cambodia With Systematic Land Titling as at July 2009 (Source: LMAP)

Explaining the Geography of Systematic Land Titling

In the geography of tenure insecurity in Cambodia we found that the one sort of land that was generally not prone to insecurity was that belonging to smallholders in established rice farming areas. Yet LMAP, a programme that intends to address the problem of tenure insecurity, is only being implemented in areas where tenure security is not generally a problem. Why might this be the case? Part of the explanation relates to project management strategies. The LMAP Director (Interview 219) explained that it was important to begin the programme in areas where it would be able to succeed. He used the metaphor of a cock-fight to explain the process and said that if a cock is sent to fight and loses, that will be the end of the cock with no second chances. So it is always wise to send the cock out to fight against some weaker opponents first to get some victories and become stronger before fighting a stronger opponent. For this reason, he argued that it is beneficial that the systematic land titling programme has been implemented in areas where tenure is already secure. This risk-aversion is also enshrined in the project appraisal document which suggests that difficult areas will be avoided: The project will not title lands in areas where disputes are likely until agreements are agreed on the status of the land (World Bank, 2002, p. 24). In addition to the central policy choices, there is also a decentralised safety valve which ensures that systematic land titling only travels to places which government feels comfortable 98

with. According to the relevant legislation68, it is provincial governors who must allocate an adjudication area and determine its boundaries, before initiating the work of officials of the Ministry of Land Management Urban Planning and Construction to conduct the registration process. At this stage, therefore, strategic choices may be made about project location on the basis of the sort of vested interests and networks that order the economic development of contemporary Cambodia. The assertion that risk-aversion (only taking the tenure security programme to already secure lands) is only a temporary phase at the beginning of a project whilst the project becomes strong should be treated with some scepticism. Cambodias systematic land registration resembles earlier titling processes also supported by the World Bank in Thailand and Indonesia, where it has been argued that the main lessons learned were ways to avoid complex tenurial situations, as well as complex land types such as forests, so as to be able to concentrate on reaching high production targets in non-contested areas (S. Williams, 2003, p. 8). The logic of the intervention suggests that titling might improve tenure security resulting in the promised benefits of improved agricultural productivity and poverty reduction. Research carried out so far has suggested that while people are pleased with the process and often report that the title gives them improved security, it has not impacted on the way that people farm (Deutsch, 2006; McAndrew, 2007). A well-designed research project implemented by the Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI) incorporating a baseline study in five districts, four where titling was to occur and a fifth which was to be a control, was due to be followed up in 2007 (Ballard & Sovannarith, 2004). That study would, by virtue of having a larger, more representative sample, have provided more valid results. Unfortunately, the follow-up has yet to occur69. In interviews with cadastral officials at district (Interview 230), provincial (Interview 232) and national (Interview 220) level I asked them if they could direct me to other locations where systematic land titling had resulted in observable changes in agricultural practice. No such places could be identified. This lack of impact is, of course, consistent with the geography of tenure insecurity (found everywhere apart from smallholder agricultural regions) and the geography of the systematic land titling intervention (found only in smallholder agricultural regions). The one problem identified by the project document that is found in the areas where the programme is being implemented is landlessness, but that, as already noted, is not a problem that is caused by tenure insecurity and not, therefore, one that can be solved by improving or formalising tenure security. In the context of the scrupulousness with which systematic land titling has avoided Cambodias forests, and the key role that forests have played in Cambodias elite politics, this difficult and contested terrain does not seem a promising area for internationally supported property rights interventions. However, community forestry is an intervention of a quite different type, and we turn to that now. 4.4.2 Community Forestry Community forestry has been implemented in Cambodia since 1991 when two international NGOs established projects in Takeo and Kampong Chhnang provinces. By 2002, 57 projects had been identified, and by 2005 the head of the national Forestry Administration listed 274


Sub decree on the Procedures to establish Cadastral Index Map and Land Register (MLMUPC, 2002)

The choice to focus on village-scale studies throughout the period of this research was partly informed by the expectation that my village level work would be complemented by the CDRI larger-sample work.


community forestry project sites spread provinces/municipalities (Heng & Sokhun, 2005).






As Poffenberger (2006) has explained, communities were, at least in some places, managing forest long before international agencies began advocating community forestry. He illustrates this with two examples which indicate effective management over several decades. First, in Ratanakiri province70 research showed how forest cover during a fifty year period had shown little change apart from a rotation in the mosaic of land use systems thus demonstrating the sustainability of the swidden management regimes of the native ethnic minority peoples living there (Fox, 2002 cited in Poffenberger, 2006, p. 60). Second, in a village in Siem Reap villagers primarily depended on fisheries, which in turn were dependent on hatcheries in flooded forests on the northern banks of the Tonlei Sap lake. About sixty years ago forests were cleared by farmers wishing to grow water melons. When this damaged fish stocks the local community began organising to protect the forest and have done so up to the present day (Poffenberger, 2006, pp. 67-68). However, whilst such examples of local management do exist, the initiative to promote and formalise community management as an alternative to centralised state control has initially come from international actors. A diverse range of national and international NGOs as well as bilateral and multilateral agencies were involved in supporting community forestry during the 1990s. Whilst focusing on establishing projects with communities they also advocated for recognition and legitimacy for community forestry management from the government. During the 2000s, after a new Forestry Law was passed in 2002, this advocacy eventually resulted in the issuing of a Community Forestry sub-decree71 in 2003 and a Community Forestry Prakas in 2006. Geographical Distribution

The total land area devoted to community forestry is 367 943 hectares (see Figure 4-5), which is 3.31% of the total national forest estate of 11,104,285 hectares (Forestry Administration, 2004, p. 3). The geography of community forestry is a patchy one, spread mainly through forest areas, but also sometimes in rice field landscapes. There are certain areas of concentration, which tend to reflect the presence of larger International Organisations or NGOs, such as the cluster of projects in degraded forests in Kampong Chhnang that were supported by the international NGO Concern Worldwide during the 1990s, and the project sites in the flooded areas north of the Tonlei Sap lake in Siem Reap province that were supported by a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation programme from the mid-1990s until the mid-2000s. What these scattered areas have in common, however, is that they are overwhelmingly in degraded forest. In a review of the 57 community forestry sites existing at the time, Fichtenau et al. (2002, pp. 25-26) found that none of the community forestry sites was in undisturbed forests, so all were to a greater or lesser extent degraded, with 67% located in areas that were defined as either heavily degraded or having little or no forest. The secondary forest which remains in the community forestry locations has been found to have very little


Ratanakiri is at the north-east tip of Cambodia, has low population densities, high forest cover and traditionally large native ethnic minority forest-dwelling population. 71 Cambodian legislative practice is such that laws are not normally framed in full detail, but require subsidiary legislation in order for them to be enacted. There is thus typically a hierarchy of formal regulation: laws, then sub-decrees, then prakas, then guidelines


Figure 4-5: Community Forestry Areas, Cambodia, June 2009 (Source: Forestry Administration)


commercial value (McKenney, Chea, Tola, & Evans, 2004). Fichtenau et al. (2002) suggested that there was potential for a far larger proportion of Cambodias territory to be allocated to community forestry and argued that all forest land within 10 kilometres of a settlement be handed over to community management. This proposition has not been adopted, and community forestry projects continue to be negotiated on a case by case basis. Explanation of the Geographical Spread of Community Forestry

A geography of community forestry that locates it on degraded lands is not unique to Cambodia: Poffenberger identifies this as typical in Southeast Asia:
Most national community forestry programmes, at least in their initial phases, focus on degraded forest restoration through natural regeneration or plantations. In other cases, projects are geared towards community management of small-scale timber operations. Commercially and biologically valuable forests, typically of older growth, have generally been retained by the state for industrial use or placed under protected area systems (Poffenberger, 2006, p. 64).

Interestingly, from the point of view of the arguments in this thesis, Poffenberger points to the contrast between host government and development industry actors in their follow up of new legislation.
In terms of the impact of new policies and legislation empowering community forest management, they appear to have had more influence in helping leverage donor investment in this sector than in securing community rights to state forestlands. Many of the initial policies have been cautiously framed, restricting community rights to income flows from forestlands (Poffenberger, 2006, p. 63).

The location of community forestry sites in degraded forests means that they do not promise much impact on livelihoods and local economies in the short to medium term. The first fifteen years is often seen as a preparatory phase to build up the resource such that significant incomes can be derived from it. This narrative of development, with the poorest people being allocated the poorest land and being supported by the development industry to improve it has not passed without criticism or contestation. It does, after all, directly contradict the literature consulted in chapter 2, which in its milder formulations suggested that community based natural resource management (CBNRM) would be more realistic in cases where communities were very dependent on the resource (Agrawal, 2007), and in its more fundamentalist iterations builds on the idea that common property regimes (CPR) are by definition indigenous and that interventions therefore facilitate the continuance of already existent common property regimes resource and management systems (Alden Wily, 2008, p. 45). One critique of the tendency for community forestry to be implemented away from high value forests came from the authors of a Special Report by researchers from CDRI, Cambodias leading independent policy research organisation, and the international conservation NGO the Wildlife Conservation Society (McKenney et al., 2004). The authors of this report found that there were enormous incentives for all actors to cut and run. In other words, that given the general insecurity of forest tenure it made more sense for people to cut down trees for immediate 102

economic rewards rather than to take the risk of managing them long term and seeing somebody else cut them down. Their policy response in relation to community forestry was two-fold. Firstly, they did not see economic value for communities in managing degraded forest, and therefore proposed that communities should be allocated higher value forest and, crucially, be allowed to harvest and trade timber on a commercial basis. Secondly, given the broader political economy and the incentives to cut and run, they suggested that this so-called commercial community forestry be piloted in places where there was exceptionally strong political support from powerful actors (McKenney et al., 2004, p. 95). A second critique came from researchers who had been looking at the role of harvesting resin from hard-wood trees in peoples livelihoods, and found that it was the central element of the livelihoods of forest-dependent people in many areas of the country. Furthermore, that in some places in the country there were informal tenure systems with households owning the right to tap certain trees (Cock, 2004). The logging of resin trees had never been permitted under Cambodian law, but concessionaires during the 1990s had flagrantly ignored this stipulation and had been taking all of the hard wood trees from the areas where they had acquired logging rights. Community forestry, particularly allied to community organisation and non-violent action, was seen as a way for communities to resist the logging companies and to protect their access to resin trees to which they had strong rights both by the letter of the law and according to established cultural norms. Community forestry projects have, however, in almost all cases been developed in cooperation with the offices of the national Forestry Administration. Their location has been decided in negotiation between NGOs, forestry officials and representatives of companies with economic land concessions or forestry concessions in the areas. For such community activists, government recognition and regulation of community forestry was a kiss of death because their short-term objective was to resist the very companies who were being ushered in by the forestry authorities. The communities and local NGOs with whom they worked would go to meetings with the Forestry Administration and instead of being allocated the areas of forest where there were still resin trees that they had requested, would instead be given degraded land. And, to the immense frustration of the activists, neither the community representatives nor the NGO representatives wished to alienate the Forestry Administration officials and gratefully accepted the degraded land that they were given (Interview 254). The similarities with the systematic land titling case become clear. Just as private titling has been diverted away from the landscapes where elite interests are busily acquiring and dispossessing, community tenure projects have also been similarly diverted, away from the high value forests and towards the marginal lands. What is also clear given the contrast between the rather strong form of property rights awarded under systematic land titling (i.e. full ownership) and the much weaker rights in the community forestry regime (i.e. limited management rights for a limited period of time, with regular review and the threat of withdrawal of those rights on inspection even within that limited time), is that it is only appropriately diluted interventions that are allowed to travel into what one interviewee called the hot areas.



The Relationship between the Two Geographies

4.5.1 Geographies of Evasion, and the Beginnings of Theory Bebbington envisaged a three-step analytical process: having mapped out the immanent geography (in which the problem of poverty and inadequate livelihoods was embedded), and the intentional geography (in which the planned interventions were mapped out) there would then be an analysis of the mutual interaction between the two. In this case, therefore, I have mapped out the phenomenon of tenure insecurity in Cambodia, as a feature of the ongoing processes of immanent development, and I have mapped out the interventions of systematic land titling and community forestry as examples of intentional development which set out to address the issues of tenure insecurity. An analysis of mutual relations between the insecurity and the interventions, however, does not seem to show them mutually influencing each other. The pattern of tenure security interventions is defined by (avoidance of) the patterns of tenure insecurity. There is no corresponding evidence that patterns of insecurity have been influenced or modified by the tenure security interventions. What we have seen, in fact, is a geography of evasiveness where the interventions have systematically avoided the places where the problem of tenure insecurity is located. We have seen a geography of tenure insecurity in rural Cambodia which indicates that smallholder rice farmers are very secure in their tenure, but that almost all other land is insecure and prone to competing claims and predatory land grabbing. We have also seen two tenure security interventions, one aimed at securing private individualised tenure of agricultural and house land, the other aimed at providing community tenure over forest land. The systematic land titling has only travelled to places where tenure is already secure, namely smallholder rice landscapes. Community forestry has only been implemented in places where the forest has already been degraded. How have these geographies been accounted for in the project literature of the respective interventions? The titling component of the LMAP project was to improve land tenure security through issuance of a million land titles, increase investment and generate greater efficiency of land use through the development of land markets, improve tax collection and land use planning (World Bank, 2002). These benefits were anticipated from a programme which was justified in terms of its ability to address the overriding problem and the one with the greatest contribution to poverty in Cambodia, namely land tenure security (and the associated landlessness) (World Bank, 2002, p. 4) and that this was related specifically to suggestions that state agents such as the military and politically connected people have dispossessed people of their land, which is being facilitated by the lack of formal recognition of rights on those lands (World Bank, 2002, p. 5. See also section 4.4.1 above) As we have seen, these statements are a lumping together of unrelated problems which occur in quite different places. Rural landlessness was indeed prevalent and increasing throughout the sort of agricultural smallholding regions of rural Cambodia where systematic land titling has been implemented. However, it was not a product of tenure insecurity but of poverty, as was clearly established by research into landlessness carried out in 1999-2000 that is cited elsewhere in the LMAP Project Appraisal Document (Biddulph, 2000d). If rural landlessness had been the main problem, then the programme might arguably have been being implemented in the right place, but 104

it would have been the wrong programme. The other problems mentioned: tenure insecurity, restricted access to common property resources and dispossession of people by well-connected business interests are, as we have seen, all problems which occur outside the agricultural smallholder regions and therefore outside the places where LMAP has been implemented. The World Bank, the major financier of the LMAP project, however, especially during the early years of the research for this thesis, continually related the tenure security argument to smallholder agriculture. For example, in its 2006 Poverty Assessment where it was suggested that Cambodia needed a third engine of economic growth to complement the existing drivers of garment factories and tourism. The poverty assessment suggested not only that smallholder farming had the potential to be that third engine, but that the most important measure for enabling smallholder farming to realise that potential was enhancing tenure security (World Bank, 2006, p. 88). Community forestry, meanwhile, in so far as it is intended to extend rights to forests to people who live in and near them, does potentially challenge elite interests. It requires the redistribution of (at least) usufruct rights from powerful commercial interests and their partners within the national political and military establishments, to local communities. However, progress with approving community forestry initiatives was so slow and so partial that it would be difficult not to interpret this as a form of quiet resistance on the part of the national leadership. Moreover, where community forestry projects have been implemented, the role of the Forestry Administration as both partner and regulator has led to the projects being diverted towards areas which are relatively small and already degraded. So again, the intervention has been diverted away from the places where its theoretical justification suggests it should be (forests which have not yet been severely degraded and which offer livelihood possibilities), and instead diverted to places where it cannot make much difference (areas where the resources are already degraded and where the resource needs to be rehabilitated). It is at this point that we encounter the central argument emerging from this thesis, which links the geographies of evasion found in this chapter to the cases of misrepresentation in the early chapter by means of the identification of a particular sort of development industry overreach. Generally, the term overreach might be applied when an organisation attempts to implement plans which it does not have the capacity or resources to carry out. In the specific terms of this thesis, overreach by the development industry is defined in terms of its relationship to the national elite and its political projects (understood in terms of the operation of a shadow/developmental state). Systematic land titling is allowed to travel freely in the lowland areas of Cambodia where there are no major accumulation projects by the political elite. In those areas it is not in overreach. To the extent that land titling or community forestry, attempt to generate entitlements to land which is coveted by the elite, they have to be resisted. The resistance here involves diverting systematic land titling away from the places where the elite have their projects, and diluting community forestry such that it is in such weak forms that it does not present a threat. Meanwhile, however, the output-oriented management and reporting of the development industry means that this resistance, which robs the interventions of the major potentials claimed for them, is concealed by the fact that the outputs continue to be produced. Land titles continue to be issued, community forestry sites continue to be registered, and all of these are marked press releases ritually celebrating the interventions as successes. 105

These then are the beginnings of theory in relation to geographies of development intervention. The development industry attempts to extend its reach beyond where the host nation political elite is comfortable; the result of this overreach is not the cancellation or visible thwarting of interventions, but rather a quiet resistance which involves them either being diverted away from places where the elite and their clients have interests, or diluted such that they have little effect. This geography of evasion solutions missing the problems they are claimed to address goes relatively unremarked as a facade of success is constructed linking project outputs to a misrepresented version of the lives and livelihoods of the people who are scheduled to benefit. The village case studies in Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 will provide a critical lens with which to view this nascent theory. First however, I will illustrate the issue of overreach in relation to the land sector in Cambodia with reference to my own earlier experiences, and also with subsequent events relating to the LMAP project in the urban areas which are beyond the immediate empirical scope of this thesis, but which help to illuminate its arguments and their relevance. 4.5.2 Applying a Geographies of Evasion Hypothesis The implied hypothesis from the argument above is that if the development industry goes into overreach (attempts to extend rights to people which conflict with the interests of the national elite), geographies of evasion (comprising diversion, dilution and facades of success) will result. During 1999 when working with the Oxfam GB Cambodia Land Study Project I accompanied a colleague on a tour of informal settlements in Phnom Penh. People crowded onto the sides of railway lines, on the public land by the entrance to pagodas, on rooftops of apartment buildings and in large settlements by rivers and lakes. All of these communities were recognised up to a point by the city authorities. They were organised into groups, and had village or community leaders who were recognised by the state and who the government would deal with. What the government did not recognise, however, was their permanent right to settle the land which they occupied. Government officials stressed that this was State land and that people were living there on sufferance. In the decade since that time urban tenure security has continued to be a front-page issue in Cambodia, as one by one many of those informal communities have been displaced from their land and more or less willingly resettled onto more or less suitable out-of-town sites. The intentions of the (shadow/developmental) state were never in doubt. Shortly after the completion of the field work for this thesis an NGO report called Untitled (Grimsditch & Henderson, 2009), was issued which linked developments in these informal settlements to the implementation of the LMAP project. A community settled in and around a large lake near the centre of Phnom Penh had been scheduled to have their title registered by the LMAP project. However, in anticipation of a land development deal struck between the (shadow/development state) authorities and a private company, the community was quietly removed from the schedule, an example of the geography of evasiveness described in this thesis. The report was followed up by a request from the NGOs (COHRE, 2009) for an investigation of the LMAP project, and of the World Bank support to that project for failing to uphold World Bank standards in relation to involuntary resettlement and project supervision (Zoellick, 2009). This prompted a World Bank commissioned external review of the project (Bekhechi & Lund, 2009) and a World Bank Management Response to the request (World Bank, 2009b).


Here, then, was a case of international development actors (in this case NGO workers in projects with the urban poor) attempting to push a rights-based intervention into a place where powerful figures in the shadow/developmental state would rather it did not go. The World Bank response was partly to begin dismantling the facade: it no longer pointed to the project documents ambitious claims, but rather to its ambiguities: The project was to be a limited and phased in contribution to a very complex development problem, although the Project Description in the PAD (Project Appraisal Document) failed to make this clear (World Bank, 2009b, p. 26). And began stressing the geographical distinctions that had previously been glossed over: The Project was never envisaged, nor did it have the resources, to address all of the land conflicts in the Project provinces (World Bank, 2009b, p. 26). In addition to highlighting the limitations of titling, the Bank also reflected on the less successful elements of the LMAP project. These were precisely the elements that involved extending the reach of the programme beyond simply issuing title in dispute-free areas. LMAP had not made progress with land management (which would mean taking official control of the State land which, as we have seen, constitutes an insecure landscape of accumulation and dispossession in the Cambodian countryside), nor had it made progress with legal assistance for the disadvantaged, safeguards or community participation. Once the project attempted to go beyond the landscapes where the shadow/developmental state was comfortable with its operations it had floundered. Nevertheless, the NGO report encouraged the Bank to try and ensure that rights were extended to the people living in and around the Boeung Kak lake. What possibility was there that the development industry might be able to resist the attempts by the shadow/developmental state to divert it? I will answer this question indirectly at first by looking at the results of attempts to achieve justice for groups threatened with dispossession, before returning to the cases in this thesis. In 2003 I conducted an evaluation of British Embassy support to a Legal Aid NGO and a Human Rights NGO for their work in relation to land rights. As part of that evaluation I asked not only those two organisations but all other legal aid and human rights organisations working in the field for examples of cases of land disputes where the plaintiffs had successfully received back all of the land that had been taken from them. There was just one such case. A land dispute in Ratanakiri which after exceptional efforts by a range of organisations over several months, involving lobbying the government via the king and various foreign embassies eventually led to the Prime Minister ordering a senior military officer to return land to a native ethnic minority community (Biddulph, 2003a). By 2008 a similar situation obtained. Little progress was being made generally by human rights and legal aid NGOs in relation to land disputes, but there was one outstanding case where a USAID supported NGO had successfully lobbied for fair and just compensation for a group of 78 households who were due to be evicted from an island on the Mekong (Blue & Underwood, 2008, p. 35). However, the evaluation of the programme which supported them concluded that the main effect of the case was to ensure that the government became more careful in ensuring that investors had a strong legal for evicting communities, for


example by issuing case specific sub-decrees supporting the investment. Generally, according to the evaluation, In cases where very powerful and wealthy people from outside come in with government issued documents, villagers can organize and protest, but the best they can hope for is that the situation remains unresolved, while they continue to live on their land as long as possible. There is little optimism or faith that powerless people can receive justice in the courts against more powerful investors. They also said that when very powerful outside interests are involved, local commune leadership is co-opted, threatened, or bought to insure [sic] cooperation with the investors (Blue & Underwood, 2008, p. 31). In other words, the cumulative experience of attempts by development industry actors to extend rights to people in conflict with business interests connected to the shadow/developmental state, reinforce the main findings and conclusions of this chapter. The geographies of evasion that see interventions located away from the main problems they claim to address are rooted in a dynamic where the development industry has ambitions to extend rights that the shadow/development state is not prepared to enforce. Development industry attempts to try and combat the shadow/development state projects are likely to be thwarted.

4.6 Summary
This chapter has contributed to the overall enquiry of the thesis into the relationship between property rights interventions and rural livelihoods by investigating the relationship between the geography of tenure insecurity and the geographies of systematic land titling and community forestry. Twice in its post-colonial history, Cambodia has been endowed with the trappings of multi-party democracy, and each time a leader consolidated his power such that his rule became immune to interruption by electoral means. In the patronage systems headed by Sihanouk and then by Hun Sen, security, to the extent that it has been available to poor people, has come not from the rule of law, but from the ability to at best be recruited into patronage networks, and at worst, at least avoid conflicts with anyone better connected. Post-colonial interventions, whether military or developmental have ultimately proven unfruitful. The UNTAC intervention became emblematic of a tendency for international actors to promise transformation, but to effect change at only the most superficial of levels. The peace promised by UNTAC was only forthcoming five years later when deals brokered by Cambodian politicians came to fruition. The democracy promised by the 1993 Constitution and the electoral political system, much like its 1946 predecessor, has become a more distant prospect with time. The current Prime Minister has consolidated power, including by allowing economic opportunity to supporters and rivals on the condition that they ally themselves to him. During the 1990s, forest management played a critical and contradictory role. On the one hand the destruction of the forest resource, with negligible gain to the national treasury, was criticised, as was the way in which the deforestation funded the conflict after international patrons ceased to finance the guerrilla war of the 1980s. On the other hand, the general reorientation of the military of all factions towards economic goals, and the way in which the current Prime Minister was able to 108

use the exploitation and distribution of rents to consolidate his power laid the ground for the demobilisation of the Khmer Rouge and the conditions of peace, stability and growth that followed. Tenure insecurity in Cambodia has been shaped by the nature of the transitions that the country has undergone, particularly the transitions from a State to a market economy, and from war to peace. The transference of State land into private use has proceeded ahead of any legal regulation that would allow such transfers. All land that might previously have been considered State land or common land has become de facto potentially private land reallocated through neo-patrimonial networks to behind-the-scenes shadow/developmental state actors. Poorer households settled on such land are insecure in their tenure because they find themselves in competition with wealthy, well-connected business interests who are able to mobilise local and/or military support for their investments. The transition to peace has been geographically uneven: many parts of central Cambodia have been at peace since 1979, whilst more remote forested areas, especially in the north-west, were still host to fighting up to the mid to late 1990s. In these places, the combination of displacement of civilian populations and the establishment of military interests has led to uncertainty over ownership rights. Again, poor settler households are particularly insecure when their interests are set against those of wealthy military commanders, who are again networked into shadow/developmental state relationships. By contrast, for smallholder rice farming lands that have been at peace since the early 1980s, tenure insecurity has not generally been a problem. Possession has been secured by traditional norms of inheritance and usage, and the existence of a market for land since the early 1980s indicates that this possession is de facto ownership. There has been some tendency for economically valuable land to become insecure, but again, this seems to follow the distinctions above: so where land is communal or former State property it is more likely to be taken from the possessor, but where the land has been inherited or distributed by the authorities in the early 1980s, then it is likely to be purchased rather than expropriated. The Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP) of the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction receives financial and technical support from the World Bank, and the governments of Germany, Finland and (in the latter part of this research) Canada. The systematic land titling component of that project aims to stimulate economic growth by improving tenure security such that: farmers dare to invest more in their land, therefore increasing agricultural productivity; farmers are able to use their land as collateral and therefore access credit either for agricultural or other investment; the land market operates more efficiently such that land ends up in the hands of the most efficient farmers. Thus far, in rural areas, systematic land titling has only been implemented in smallholder rice farming landscapes. The LMAP project director has explained that he is reluctant to begin the programme in places where it might suffer reversals and difficulties. The procedures for identifying implementation areas, whereby provincial governors make a request to the Ministry for assistance in a particular district, also ensure that the programme is not implemented in areas where it might prove troublesome for the authorities. Community forestry has been implemented by a broad range of international development organisations throughout the country since the early 1990s. These organisations have also lobbied 109

for government recognition of community forestry initiatives, leading to the adoption of a Community Forestry Sub-Decree in 2003 and the issuance of a Community Forestry Prakas in 2006. Community forestry has been promoted as a means of maintaining traditional forestbased livelihoods, especially in relation to harvesting of resin, but also enabling improved management of degraded forests. Efforts to support community forestry have recently concentrated on winning government approval for all proposed community forestry projects. Community forestry projects are scattered across the country in various provinces. This geography often reflects the operational areas of the organisations who have supported community forestry. The common trend, however, has been for community forests only to be approved in forests that are already degraded, and not in areas where high value resin trees remain uncut. This is partly attributable to the Forestry Administration directing communities away from high value forests which may be of short term commercial interest and towards degraded forests. When looking for the relationship between the geography of immanent development in the form of tenure insecurity and the geography of intentional development in the form of the property rights interventions of systematic land titling and community forestry, the relationship appears to be one way. The pattern of tenure insecurity has influenced the distribution of the tenure security interventions, but the tenure security interventions have not modified the patterns of tenure insecurity. Overall, this could be characterised as a geography of evasion, with systematic land titling being implemented only in places where tenure is secure, and community forestry implemented only in places where forest has already been degraded. To the extent that national authorities have channelled interventions away from areas where insecurity is a problem this might be termed diversion, while to the extent that the interventions have been allowed but in weakened form, this might be termed dilution. The reporting against indicators which show progress but do not in fact represent the changes that they purport to represent might be characterised as the production (or co-production) of a facade. The combination of factors constituting a geography of evasion is initiated by development interventions going into overreach, in other words attempting to extend their influence to places and issues where the shadow/developmental state is not supportive of their agenda.


5. Community Forestry in Bey village

5.1 Introduction

In the early months of 2003, a community forestry project was initiated in by a local organisation I shall call the Better Lives Organisation72 (BLO) in a village in north-east Cambodia which I shall call Bey. BLO is based in the provincial town of Kracheh, and initially received funding from a small US-registered NGO called here Active Communities (AC). BLOs community forestry projects were subsequently incorporated into an internationally-supported project cofinanced by the European Union and managed by the British NGO Oxfam. This chapter will describe and analyse the community forestry project in Bey village. It will describe the intervention as it was experienced in the village using the results of our interviews and surveys in the village to inform the narrative. Perspectives from other actors in the story will then follow: Cambodian and international NGOs, a multilateral donor organisation and the local representative of the foreign company that has a concession in the district. Finally, I will reflect on the case in terms of its contribution to our knowledge and understanding of community forestry in Cambodia in relation to themes established earlier in this thesis, including how it develops our understandings of the geography of evasiveness which started to emerge from the national case study in Chapter 4. Before focusing on the intervention, however, the village itself and its recent history will be described in order to give insights into the livelihood trajectories of the villagers and the forces and actors which shape those trajectories. These constitute the local geography of immanent development onto which the local geography of intentional development will be mapped. Trajectories and pathways are metaphors which are used in the literature on livelihoods to suggest a balance between structure and agency in shaping peoples livelihoods. As such they are something of a statement of the obvious: of course peoples livelihoods are not wholly determined by outside forces, but of course peoples livelihoods are not entire in their own hands either. This statement of the obvious represents the striking of balance in the debate. The livelihoods literature itself arises as a development of Chambers (1983)farmer first and putting the last first arguments, which are based on the idea that intervention needs to be better informed by an understanding of the situation and of the poor and of their own knowledge and abilities. The concept of trajectory or pathway simply redresses the balance by clarifying that peoples knowledge and ability alone are unlikely to be sufficient to change their economic situation (Scoones, 1998, p. 10). The image of a path is particularly useful here, as a path can be imagined in different landscapes: one might have an open view and be able to see where paths lead and

BLO is a pseudonym, as is AC.


make an informed and safe choice about which to take. On the other hand paths may be winding and unpredictable as well as difficult and dangerous to leave. Without labouring the point further I would suggest that one thing that is lacking in livelihoods literature is a sense of what particular pathways might look like. In the experiences of the village of Bey it is possible to discern some general lessons that might usefully be highlighted regarding livelihoods trajectories in landscapes undergoing deforestation, a point that I will return to later.


Immanent Development: Lives and Livelihoods in Bey

5.2.1 Modern history of a Village in Forest Location

Bey is located in northeast Cambodia, in the north of Chhlong district, in Kracheh province. Chhlong district town is located on the eastern bank of the Mekong river about 240 kilometers from Phnom Penh and about thirty kilometres short of the provincial town of Kracheh, and about 20 kilometers from the district town of Chhlong. Bey is one of the remoter villages in the district accessible by four-wheeled vehicle only in the dry season. It is also remote within the commune as the commune office is about ten kilometres south of the village, not on the routes used regularly by the villagers to travel down to the Mekong, and barely traversable during the wet season. There are two other settlements in the area, which officially constitute one village. One of them, which I shall call Pram, is about two kilometres south-west of Bey, the other - Pram Toich - is about six kilometres away. At the beginning of the research period Pram Toich barely existed, but by the time our work was complete in 2009 it contained about 40 households. 1950-1970 Pre-War Lives and Livelihoods

Fifty years ago Bey was a village of 15-20 households found along the banks of the river Bey. At night villagers were fearful of elephants and tigers (Interview 115). They were also afraid of bandits who might raid the village. To ward off these threats a fence was built around the village, fires were lit and maintained all night, and villagers took it in turn to patrol the perimeter fence. Recalling those times, none of the older villagers can ever remember a time when they were raided by bandits, but they do recall villagers dogs being taken by tigers (Interview 93, 109). Unlike today (when radios and televisions and even the occasional karaoke machine can be heard in the village), it used to be quiet at night, with only the sound of somebody playing a traditional three-stringed instrument (Interview 89).


Figure 5-1. Map of Cambodia Showing Districts Where the Case Study Villages are Located

While physical security was a concern, food security generally was not. The forest and the river at that time provided abundant animals, fruits and fish (Interview 115). There was little farming done in the village: in order to obtain rice villagers mainly traded forest produce such as resin, animals and illicitly cut wood with traders down on the Mekong. Such farming as was practiced took place in an area to the east of the village this was often swidden farming, with small areas of land being cleared and burned and then planted for just a couple of years. Some rice would be grown but mainly people traded rattan, resin, vines and leaves for rice that was imported to the district from Battambang province (Interview 12). Rattan was abundant then compared with today, and was possibly the most important source of income ahead of resin, (Interview 13, 31). The forest was dense and from the Mekong, fifteen kilometres away, all the way to the village, the road was overshadowed by tall hardwood trees, which villagers recalled with some nostalgia (Interview 12, 31). It was not a good road and when it rained it became a stream (Interview 109). While some villagers say that there was no trading of timber in those times and that it was only cut for local use (Interview 109), others say that there was always some trading of timber, but that cutting was by hand and therefore not on a large scale (Interview 85, 97). Although the main access road was hardly more than an oxcart track, forestry officials could drive along this road in an old jeep left by the French. The forestry officials were a rare example of the reach of the state extending to the village. However, villagers cutting timber for sale would evade these officials in their vehicles by following narrow oxcart tracks that wound through the forest (Interview 89). 113

The location along the river banks prior to the 1960s had been partly to have access to water and partly because the access to road, which was little more than a track, was used by wild animals, including elephants, which the villagers did not want to lead into the village area. In the late 1960s a senior official close to Prince Sihanouk encouraged the relocation of all settlements to the road, promising that the road would be built properly and there would be development 73. However, the 1970 coup occurred before that promise could be fulfilled (Interview 93). This relative isolation from the wider society was to change dramatically over the years, as first war and then machines and markets transformed the physical and social landscape to produce the village that was the subject of my research at the beginning of the twenty-first century. 1970-1994 Conflict and Its Aftermath: A local history

According to where people lived in Cambodia before and during the 1970s, their experience of civil war and of the Khmer Rouge period was radically different. People from Phnom Penh and its environs refer to the Khmer Rouge time as being 3 years, 8 months and 20 days. This covers the span between 17 April 1975, when resistance forces led by the Khmer Rouge took Phnom Penh and 7 January 1979, when the Vietnamese supported the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge. In the north-eastern province of Kracheh, where Bey is located, the transition to Khmer Rouge control was early, and the population was already wearing the distinctive black uniforms demanded by the Khmer Rouge long before 1975 when the population of Phnom Penh welcomed the child soldiers who proclaimed revolution and victory over Lon Nol and the Americans (Interview 108). After 1979, furthermore, when much of southern Cambodia was relatively peaceful, the forests of Kracheh remained immersed in conflict. Just two or three kilometres east of Bey, Khmer Rouge battalions were based in the forest. When they launched raids against the district town, villagers from Bey were often co-opted as foot soldiers (Interview 69). Meanwhile, the government military were also regular visitors to the village. In common with many other such villages in forest fringes throughout the country, the villagers had to learn to host both sides, and to deal with the consequences of being fully trusted by neither. Soldiers would interrogate and beat villagers, with forces on each side trying to make sure that they were getting honest answers to questions about the movements of the other (Interview 108). During the 1980s the population of the village varied between about twenty and thirty households. Of these about a dozen remained in place throughout those years, while the remainder rotated, villagers successively leaving the village to join the Khmer Rouge, but then after a time leaving the Khmer Rouge and handing themselves into the authorities at district, and then later perhaps returning to the village again. Meanwhile, trade between Bey and the villages on the Mekong continued. Oxcarts would travel up to the village carrying fish and prahok74, and would travel back down to the river laden with forest products. Traders going out to the forest

It seems safe to assume that there would have been a security aspect to this as well as a development aspect: that government wanted populations on roads where they were easily monitored and accessible rather than in remote forests where opposition militaries might organize. 74 A form of crushed, salted, fermented fish. Ubiquitous in the countryside it is considered to be both essentially Khmer and to be poor persons food.


would carry rice with them, hidden from view so that government soldiers would not see it. Then when out in the forest they would leave bags of rice well in front of the places where they were cutting leaves or wood, this in the expectation that the Khmer Rouge soldiers would take the rice and in return let them work uninterrupted (Interview 108). Following the failure of the United Nations peace process to bring peace throughout Cambodia, Bey continued to be insecure. As late as early 1994 a villager trod on a land-mine just east of the village and died from his injuries. In mid-1994 the Khmer Rouge units based in the forest near the village finally surrendered to the district authorities in order to be reintegrated into mainstream society (Interview 108). The deputy village chief also arrived in the village in 1994, taking up his appointment there as soon as he moved and in many respects becoming the de facto village chief. This was probably because the authorities down at the river wanted to consolidate their influence in the village by placing somebody trusted in a position of influence in the village75. Even those who are most implacably opposed to him and accuse him of serving only himself and not the community, acknowledge that he is the most literate and capable person in the village (Interview 64). Meanwhile, two Khmer Rouge commanders, both originally from neighbouring Kampong Thom province, settled in the village at the end of the conflict and are prominent figures in village life. Their popularity and respect amongst other villagers is indicated by the fact that both men were elected to serve on the lay committee for the village pagoda in 2008, coming first and third in the election (Interview 71). One, Loke Peit, was the only private medical practitioner in the village until 2008, so had been invited into nearly every household in the village over the years. As a youth he had been one of the soldiers who entered Phnom Penh in 1975 to first liberate and then evacuate it. He learned his medical skills when he was posted away from a fighting unit on the border with Vietnam to command a medical unit, where he learned informally from the soldiers under his command. He is married to a cousin of the deputy village chief, indicating that even if old allegiances have some influence, it is also possible to transcend, or at least blur, them (Interview 11). The other former Khmer Rouge commander, Chan, built a house slightly outside the village, though recent migration into the village and the expansion of the village area means that he is now surrounded by neighbours (Interview 64). He has been the leader of the village Community Forest project since shortly after its inception, being elected in 2003 and re-elected in 2007. He also provides health services through being a village volunteer in an anti-malaria programme for which he receives a monthly fee the equivalent of 12.5 USD. Villagers who suspect they have malaria get a blood test from him and if it is positive he can treat them immediately, as several testified (e.g.Interviews 6, 18, 45, 54). Another Khmer Rouge soldier had defected from the Khmer Rouge earlier after her husband had, without telling her, left the movement, taken another wife and become a government informer. She had initially struggled to gain acceptance in the village, her residence being vigorously opposed by some of the older men who have since died (Interview 22). Nevertheless, other villagers befriended her, and she is now a

He was by no means new to the village. He and his father used to travel through it to cut leaves and timber and trade them in pre-war times. Indeed, it was on a journey back from the village in 1973 that his father dropped him to do some work on a rice field and he watched as his father continued his journey and was killed by an American fighter plane (Interview 108). The pattern of a milder, village chief being slightly peripheral compared with a more competent, better-connected figure (usually but not necessarily the deputy) is not universal but is certainly common, as is also reflected, for example in the village of Buon and in the village studies in Hasselskog (2000).


popular and respected figure, and was also amongst those elected to the first community forestry committee in 2003 (Interview 71). 1994-2006 Peace and Development

Throughout its modern history as a village in forest, Bey had previously had a relatively stable relationship with both the forest, and with the state as a somewhat remote custodian of the forest. After the uncertainties and challenges of war, however, peace brought a new set of uncertainties and challenges to the village. The forests permanence was challenged, and the states role, and especially that of the officials responsible for forests, became far more ambivalent. The main manifestation of this, which influenced not just Bey, but the whole of Chhlong district and part of neighbouring Snoul, was the government signing a forest concession agreement with a joint Soviet Union-Cambodian venture called Casotim (Cambodia Soviet Timber76). The industrial scale logging which followed transformed livelihoods in the village. The succession of new actors and activities associated with the logging over that period are described below. One consequence of the logging was that the road to the village was no longer in the shade of forest (Interview 41). New villages, mainly populated by Cham settlers from along the Mekong, were established along the road, and areas of the degraded forest were claimed for agriculture both by these new settlers and also by other Cham households who remained on the river. 5.2.2 Livelihoods Shaped by Deforestation Loggers and Rent-seekers Transform the Landscape

During the initial period after peace broke out change was gradual. Many former residents came back to the village, which brought it back to its pre-war population of about thirty households. Trade between Bey and the villages on the Mekong began to intensify as oxcarts could move without fear. One visible change was the arrival of very large oxcarts which were used for transporting large hard-wood tree trunks out of the forest. Apparently, these had huge wooden wheels, up to two meters in diameter, and were pulled by as many as five pairs of buffalo. They were mainly owned by Cham people who lived near the Mekong, though members of the Khmer majority also had such oxcarts (Interview 108). The major changes, however, were initiated when the Casotim company became operational in the area. Casotim had obtained a 120 000 hectare forest concession covering all of the forests of Chhlong district as well as a portion of neighbouring Snoul district. Initially, it only had eight of its own trucks operating in the area. Each of these might carry 10-15 cubic meters of wood per journey, and make 4-5 journeys per day. Within a year or so, however, the logging operation had opened up. Anyone with a tractor or truck that could carry felled trees from the forest to the Mekong was able to pay a fee to Casotim to go into the forests, cut wood, and then sell it to the company. As many as fifty locally owned tractors and trucks participated in this business (Interview 108). This relatively free local trade continued for the last years of the 1990s with the Casotim company, local business people and villagers apparently unregulated. In about 2000, however,

I am indebted to one of my interviewees for pointing out to me that this name was in fact an English acronym .


there was change as other institutions became active out in the forest. First amongst these were the military and the Forestry Administration (FA)77. Villagers perception was that both the military and the FA worked for the concessionaires. In the case of the military, the ties with villagers were sufficiently strong (including soldiers who married into the village) that villagers knew that the military received two salaries: one from the ministry of defence and another from the logging company. For the villagers, these soldiers were known simply as the Casotim soldiers. Villagers did not know for sure that the Forestry Administration officials received payments from Casotim in the same way, but they assumed that the relationship was similar (Interview 108). These institutions played the role of informal regulators and tax collectors. Anyone operating in the forest was now supposed to have permission otherwise they risked having to pay a fine or having their equipment confiscated. The local police were soon active in the same practice, and finally also the Gendarmerie or PM French-trained military police units. Amongst our interviewees the fees that people paid to be allowed to cut and transport wood varied. The lowest reported monthly fee was by a household that reported paying 10 USD per month to the military and nothing to the police apart from small voluntary payments of 3-5 USD because I have known them for years and they are like relatives (Interview 112). The highest was reported by a household who reported paying 25 USD per month to the military and 25 USD per month to the PM (Interview 43). The deputy village chief, reporting the general rates, suggested that they were even higher (50 USD per month to the military, 20 USD to the PM and 10 USD to the police), and that these were just the fees for villagers; that traders from the Mekong had to pay much higher rates (Interview 108). On occasions a villager would have their chainsaw confiscated by the Forestry Administration, or by the police or military. In these cases the chainsaw could often be reclaimed by the owner who paid a fee and could be back in the forest cutting again within a couple of days (Interview 99). The amount that had to be paid to recover a chainsaw if it was confiscated varied from as low as 50 USD (Interview 77) and as high as 100-150 USD (Interview 104). Notwithstanding the variations from household to household, the fees were experienced as fairly predictable, but also unfair, especially in that police and military never charged or fined each other (Interviews 26, 101). Following the onset of activities by these institutions in about 2000-2001, came another significant change to the local timber economy. Coinciding with a moratorium on commercial logging in 2002, the logging trucks ceased their work and the industrial scale transport of huge trunks ended. This was not, however, an end to the logging, but a signal for its continuation by other means (Interview 108). Five local business men made agreements with Casotim, and as a result were able to place a total of ten sawmills in the forest east of the village (Interview 101). From that time, instead of a stream of heavy duty trucks carrying huge logs, there was a flow of sawn planks on smaller improvised trucks or on oxcarts. Locally, this seemed to be understood as being because there were no longer sufficient big trees for the industrial scale logging to

The Forestry Administration was until 2003 the Department for Forestry and Wildlife at the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, but was renamed the Forestry Administration and became more autonomous following the passage of the 2003 Forestry Law. I recall occasional patrols of rifle-bearing officials in near-white uniforms passing the minefield where we were working in late 1993 in Krakor district of Pursat province, and being told by my Cambodian colleagues that these were forestry officials (or mei prey as they are colloquially known).


continue, and therefore the processing of smaller trees via the sawmills in the forest became prevalent (Interview 96, 108). When our research began in 2006, this was still the state of affairs. Oxcarts passed through the village every day: we never attempted to count them systematically, but perhaps between 15 and 30 oxcarts every day, occasionally more. Sometimes they travelled just one or two at a time, sometimes in long convoys of eight or ten. The landscape in which the village was set had thus been under transformation in the years of peace prior to our research beginning. In 1994 Bey, was clearly a village in forest. At that time the villages along the Mekong were beginning to gain the character of logging and timber trading villages, but the forest frontier was essentially still along the river bank. The phase of industrial logging, however, led to a degradation of forests. Hard wood trees, including the resin trees which had been central to the livelihoods of many of the villagers who grew up in the forest, had been removed from the landscape. When we arrived in 2006, there were large tracts of cleared agricultural land along the road to the village, and much of the forest was scrubby and low. Villagers and outsiders seeking commercial timber were already in 2006 having to travel further and further to the east of the village to find suitable trees. Demand for timber was still the main economic driver, and land prices were still remarkably low in comparison to lowland Cambodia. However, the deforestation was taking its toll: Bey was no longer unequivocally a village in forest. Whilst already in 2006 villagers were reporting that all of the good quality wood had already been taken (Interview 96), by 2009 the flow of oxcarts and trucks had almost ceased and villagers working in logging were heading to the neighbouring province of Mondolkiri in order to find work (Interview 29). 2004-2008: Demographic Transformation a trickle becomes a flood

During our village censuses in 2006 and 2008 we asked when each person in the village was born, and when they first came to the village. By this means we were able to gain an impression of how the villages population had fluctuated over the years. During the twenty-five years from 1975-2004 an average of 2.1 new households were formed each year (either through marriage or through immigration of new couples). The steady trickle of households coming into the village did not seem to have been matched by a flow out: the deputy village chief could only recall two families having left the village (both to go and live down on the Mekong) in the 12 years that he had been keeping records (Interview 96). However, during 2005-6 there was a sudden acceleration in household formation with 19 new families established in the village during the twenty months before our research got underway (January 2005-August 2006). During that same period, 31% of all households in the village reported occupying new house land and 48% of all households built new houses. So not only were new household moving in to the village, but existing households were rebuilding and often relocating their houses. By August 2006 there were 86 households in the village. At that time only 48% of Beys adults were born in the village, whilst 36% of adults were members of households that contained no adult members born in the village. This was a situation that had evolved over time. During the course of the research the influx continued. When we repeated our census in 2008, the village had grown from 83 to 137 households (a 65% increase in just two years). Only three of these new households were formed through marriage of existing villagers the remainder were all new in118

migrants. This is reflected in Figure 5-2 which classifies village households according to the birthplace of the adults in the village. The number of households where all adults had been born in the village remained constant at 23, but this represented a decline from 34.8% to 16.8% of the village population. Meanwhile, the number of households consisting solely of adults born outside the village rose in absolute numbers from 14 to 75, and as a proportion from being the smallest group within the village (21.2%) to the largest (54.7%). Villagers commonly spoke in favourable terms of the increased population saying that having more people in the village made it happier (Interview 21, 80, 85, 87, 110).

80 60 40 20 0
2004 (n=66) 2006 (n=83) 2008 (n=135)

All adults in HH are native to village

Mix of native and in-migrant adults All adults in HH are in-migrants

Source: Field Data, Village Censuses, Bey 2006 and 2008 Figure 5-2: Origins of Households in Bey in 2004, 2006, 2008 by Birthplace of Adults.

The source of migrants into the village has changed over time. Those adults born outside the village but moving to it in the quarter of a decade prior to 2004 were almost all from within the district: either from the nearby village of Pram, or from one of the villages on the Mekong. Virtually all of the immigrants who came after 2004 came from neighbouring Kampong Cham province. The three types of villager, then, original villagers, pre-2004 migrants from within the district, and since-2004 migrants from Kampong Cham, each have quite different backgrounds and abilities. Firstly, there were the original villagers born in Bey. The village had not previously had a school. Their educations were poor, and whilst they had a history of trading forest products for food, they did not have a history of being involved in business. Their comparative advantage was in the forest where they knew what was available in terms of timber, animals and other nontimber forest products. Most of these original villagers had grown up in the old village centre 119

between the road junction and the eastern stream, although a number of them have recently moved out of the centre of the village to either Bey Toich to the east, or to the Casotim road west or south of the village. Secondly there was the first wave of immigrants, who were part of the steady trickle into the village up to the mid-2000s. They had grown up in villages along the Mekong, where there were schools. In addition to being better educated, many had grown up in business-oriented households, and specifically had been involved in the timber trade. In contrast with the original villagers they are entrepreneurial constantly looking for opportunities to buy and sell at a profit. The half a dozen little trading stores in the village are all run by in-migrants, and not by original villagers.
Table 5-1: Location of Adult Residents of Bey, 1-3 August 2006

Location In or near village Beyond village area but within province In another province (not Phnom Penh) In Phnom Penh

Frequency78 Percent 186 12 2 2 203 92 6 1 1 100

Source: Field Data, Village Census 1-3 August, 2006.

This is reflected in Table 5-2 which shows the main source of income reported by each household in a questionnaire administered in our penultimate field trip in late 2008. Thirdly, there was a new wave of immigrants who had been part of the sudden flood into the village since 2005. They come from neighbouring Kampong Cham province and their intention has been to buy land and clear it for agriculture. Some were poorer households who had been forced to look for a cheaper place to live having come upon hard times in their home districts (e.g.Interview 15). Others were better off households, often late middle-aged couples who had left their land at home to their adult children and had come to the village with surplus capital and perhaps adult labour in the form of more adult children, so were well-set to make a new start (e.g.Interview 3). Unlike the first wave immigrants (some of whom had been regular visitors to Bey since the 1960s and knew the forest extremely well), the new wave from Kampong Cham are not familiar with the local area, and are not used to moving around in the forest and harvesting its resources. Villagers themselves were very aware of the differences between them: the original villagers comparative advantage at gathering NTFPs, the early migrants comparative advantage at doing business and the recent migrants advantage at smallholder farming (e.g. Interviews 51, 85).

N= 204. Missing information = 1.


Whilst there was never really an expectation that the original villagers would become business people, they did, as we will see, develop the ambition to learn from the in-migrants and to become capable farmers. Livelihood Activities During the Research Period

This section describes the livelihood activities of villagers during the study period, and provides detail regarding the uneven effects of the changes in opportunity available to villagers.
Table 5-2: Main Source of Income Reported by Household in Bey village, October 2008

Households formed before Households formed August 2006 August 2006-2008 Reported main income source: Transporting and Cutting79 wood Agricultural labour hire Cutting wood Selling own produce Retail trading Wages (police, NGO) Selling desserts Private medicine Savings prior to migration Motorcycle taxi Left village Missing Never existed Totals

All households Total 36 45 8 6 7 1 1 2 7 1 4 11 1 3 139 % 25.9 32.4 5.7 4.3 5.0 0.7 0.7 1.4 5.0 0.7 2.9 7.9 0.7 2.2 99.7

Sub-Total 37 16 7 5 4 1 1 1 0 0 4 6 1 82

% 45.1 19.5 8.5 6.1 4.9 1.2 1.2 1.2 0 0 4.9 7.3 1.2 0 99.8

Sub-total 7 29 1 1 3 0 0 1 7 1 0 5 0 3 57

% 12.3 50.9 1.7 1.7 5.3 0 0 1.7 12.3 1.7 0 8.8 0 5.3 100.0

Not yet moved in

Source: Field Data, Land and Livelihood Survey (2), October 2008.


Of the 36 responses, 29 mentioned only transporting wood while 7 mentioned either cutting on its own or cutting and transporting wood. 80 One household was in the process of moving in August 2006 and thus had two houses. As a result we recorded it twice, as household 47 and then as household 75. This error was identified and rectified in the census update in October 2008.


Before considering the specific activities, it is worth noting that while many of the villagers come from further afield, once they are settled in the village their livelihoods have become overwhelmingly local. The village census information which we gathered in early August 2006 served to illustrate this. Only 2% of Bey adults were out of the province at the time of the village census, and fully 92% were in or near the village at the time the census interviews took place. Timber-related Livelihood Activities The cutting and transporting of wood was the major source of income for most households in the village of Bey during the period of our research, as was evidenced, at least during 2006-8, by regular traffic of oxcarts laden with planks. Our hosts in the village, the deputy village chief and his wife, were amongst the leading timber traders. When we first met them they flatly denied any involvement in logging. However, their house is on the main road through the village, with an open front with a shop and a little wooden platform where women might chat and joke, or men might smoke and drink and joke. In the course of our first week, men involved in transporting timber either employed by or in partnership with our hosts often popped into the house to discuss deals on their way through81 (Interview 100). The pretence of non-involvement quickly, and without comment, evaporated (Interview 96). Involvement in the timber trade took various forms, with varying degrees of economic reward. At the top of the village timber business hierarchy were traders, who either bought timber, or hired other villagers to cut and transport wood for them, and then sold, often to order, to other traders located in the villages by the Mekong (Interviews 153, 154). One step down from these wood traders were chainsaw operators either cutting wood and selling it themselves, or, more often, working as day labour for traders. A further step down from that were people with oxcarts who earned money transporting wood from the forest through the village and down to the villages on eastern bank of the Mekong (see Photo at Figure 5-3). Finally, at the humblest level were people without any capital equipment. They could either work as an assistant to a chainsaw operator (and were wholly dependent on somebody calling them to come and work with them), or could work transporting wood, by borrowing somebody elses oxen and oxcart and splitting the money fifty percent with them (Interviews 15, 120). As already noted, informal regulation of the informal timber trade was significant in shaping the opportunities for villagers. Business skills and some financial capital were not sufficient to guarantee business success, as the following case illustrates: Kone Kmeich was born in Bey village in 1984. He is the son-in-law of Kim Nary in one of our case study households. He is the main income earner for the household, mainly through his work transporting wood which he does with his own oxcart. He is also a capable chainsaw operator. In late 2006 he bought a chainsaw, for 240 USD.


Interview 100 was my short notes on observing one such conversation, and not an interview as such.


Figure 5-3: Villager with an oxcart load of wood in Bey, January 2008 (Photo: Robin Biddulph).

In order to make a business of operating the chainsaw he needed to hire other people to work with him both cutting and transporting, to provide them with food and cigarettes and also to pay for the fuel for the chainsaw. He could cut about 0.6 cubic meters per day, which meant that he could make a profit of approximately 52,800 riels (or 13 US dollars) per day (see Table 5-3).
Table 5-3: Calculations of Profitability for a Chainsaw Owner-Operator in Bey 2007

Costs per cubic meter (riels) Machine operators Transportation Fuel 60,000 60,000 42,000

Income per cubic meter (riels)

Food, drink, cigarettes 50,000 etc Total

Source: Field Data, Interview 24


Sale price



However, after he began operating the chainsaw for a time he had it confiscated twice in a short period of time. On the first occasion, it was the police who took it and he had to pay 400 000 riels (100 USD) to recover it. On the second occasion, in early April 2007, the military took it and he had to pay them 300 000 riels (75 USD) to recover it. After these experiences he decided that it was not worth the risk and the insecurity so he sold the chainsaw and reverted to the less profitable business of transporting wood or working as a chainsaw operator for others (Interview 24).
Table 5-4: Timber Incomes in 8 Case Study Households, Bey village 2006-7


Household background and description

% from Other key timber income 2006-7 sources Profit on move (71%)

Moved to village 2006 from Kampong Cham in order to 0% farm cleared forest. One of a group of related households. Comfortably off. Intending to farm. Married couple moved to village in 1998 following 0% defection from Khmer Rouge.


Medical practices (66%) Profit on move (62%)


Young couple with three children moved to village 2006 0% from Kampong Cham in order to farm cleared forest. Relatively poor. She is single woman from neighbouring province. Main 70% earner is her son-in-law who was born in the village and cuts and transports wood. Both in their forties. Were born in the village and have 68% always lived there. He uses their oxen and cart to transport wood. She was born in the village but her husband, who she met 38% in western Cambodia, was born in Siem Reap and moved into the village in 1986. A young couple with two small children. They both came 83% to the village as young children, their parents are business oriented (her father is deputy village chief). He is born in the village whilst she is from a timber- 78% trading village on the Mekong.




Agric labour 22% Resin 23%



Source: Field Data, Income and Expenditure Survey of 8 Case Study Households


The importance of timber livelihoods during the early part of our research can be seen from the proportions of household income reported from this source by the eight case study households in early 2007 (see Table 5-4 below). Of these eight households, the four who have adult male members who were born or brought up in the village are the four households where the majority of reported income in 2006-7 came from cutting and transporting wood. In the hybrid household where it is the woman who is native to the village and her husband comes from outside they reported only 38% of their income coming from timber. The three other households, where no adult household members had been born in the village, reported no income from timber. The trend of new-arrivals not being involved in timber trading continued throughout the study period. In January 2008, fifty-two (62%) of the 84 households who were interviewed, reported incomes from cutting or transporting wood. By this time, however, the in-migrants from Kampong Cham who had arrived by 2006 had had a further 18 months in the village. Now, almost half of them (7 out of 15) reported incomes from cutting or transporting wood82. When the results of the land and livelihoods questionnaire that we administered in October 2008 were disaggregated according to when households were formed in the village (before or after 2006), and whether they contained adults born in the village, the same pattern was confirmed. As Table 5-5indicates, households that were new to the village were not immediately participating in the timber trade; households who had been established in the village for two years or more or contained a native villager were far more likely to be engaged in timber trade activities.
Table 5-5: Households reporting Timber as Main Income Source in Bey village, Cambodia, 2008

#HH reporting timber as Total # HH main income responding83 Households formed before 2006 Post-2006 households containing existing villagers Post-2006 households containing only migrants Total 37 (51%) 6 (60%) 72 10

1 (3%)


44 (36%)


Source: Field Data, Land and Livelihood Survey (2), October 2008

There were fluctuations in activity from visit to visit. Our penultimate trip in late 2008 seemed to coincide with a major timber order suddenly chainsaws were in open view and there was sawing going on throughout the village. On our last trip, however, in early 2009 we barely saw any wood being transported. While extenuating circumstances may have played a part - the financial crisis


Households 6, 10, 28, 50, 59, 93, 94 reported incomes from timber. Households 3, 4, 11, 13, 22, 23, 49, 91 reported no incomes from timber. 83 121 out of a possible 135 households (90%) responded to this question.


globally and a case of foot and mouth affecting oxen in the village locally - however it seemed possible that the long-predicted exhaustion of local timber was now taking hold and that a permanent decline in timber activities was finally beginning to occur. Farming own land The village has rice paddy fields in its immediate vicinity and also to the east of the immediate village area. These have gradually been expanding with the village population, and are farmed every year. The soil is good but the rice farming is rain fed and therefore vulnerable to the exigencies of the weather: when the rains are suitable for the paddy in the centre of the village, they are too much for the paddy in the east; when the harvest in the east is good, there is too little rain for the fields in the centre of the village. Crop land which does not flood is known as chamcar in Khmer. The villagers used to farm chamcar on a shifting basis in the forests to the east of the village. After a lull during the 1980s when there was little farming outside the immediate village area (Interview 108), agriculture began to resume with more clearing of permanent plots. Increasingly, with interest in land and farming going hand in hand with the degradation of the forest, households in the village have claimed larger tracts of chamcar especially along the roads to the east of the village. It is rare now to find a household in Bey where the members do not regard their future as tied up with their ability to acquire and farm agricultural land. As we have seen, though, this is a relatively recent break with the previous ways of earning a living in the village where agriculture was basically a complement to forest-based activities. This was certainly the case during the study period, with the majority of households owning rice land, chamcar or both (see Table 5-6 below).
Table 5-6: Reported agricultural land holdings in Bey village, January 2008.

Reported agricultural land holding by type Rice and Chamcar land Rice only Chamcar only No agric land reported Total responses
Source: Field Data, Land and Livelihood Survey (1), January 2008.

# Households 37 19 20 5 81

% 42% 23% 25% 6% 100%

In our October 1998 Land and Livelihood Survey (2), representatives of all available households were asked about the main livelihood activity for their household. Only 6 of the 120 respondents gave agriculture as their response. In 2009, however, when households were asked about their hopes and expectations for a livelihood in the future, all respondents said that agriculture was their key hope/expectation. 126

One households experiences have been particularly influential in stimulating peoples ambitions in relation to agriculture. They came to the village in 2005 with labour and capital to spare and an intention to farm. In 2007 they planted 1.8 hectares of cassava, and made a profit of 1,800 USD. Prior to this the idea of growing cash crops had been there, and some of the new households had made a start with soya beans and other crops. However, there had been concerns that even if a decent crop was produced it might not be possible to get it to market. The experience of that household in 2007 demonstrated that large profits were possible. Suddenly, the vast majority of villages, both newcomers from farming backgrounds in Kampong Cham, and long-term residents with little or no experience of farming, were stating their intention to grow cassava.

Figure 5-4: Cassava ready for planting in Bey, 2008 (Photograph: Robin Biddulph).

Transforming forest, or degraded forest, to farm land does not happen overnight. Even cassava, which can be grown without completely clearing the existing vegetation and without ploughing the fields, requires significant labour. And families can only labour on their chamcar land if they have another source of income or food to ensure that they can feed themselves and send their children to school. This was illustrated by the responses to our questions about how much chamcar land each household owned, and how much it had under crop. The average landholding claimed after the 2007 harvest was 2.0 hectares, while the average area reported to be under crop was 0.21 hectares; at the time of the 2008 harvest, for the same 81 households the respective averages were 2.16 and 0.54 hectares. In other words, households had increased the proportion that they farmed from about a tenth to about a quarter of their reported holdings. So clearing of agricultural land had increased but most of the land in villagers (informal) possession still had not been cleared. 127

The relationship between smallholder agriculture and farming in the village is reflected in the experiences of the eight case study households. Buying agricultural land was usually part of the entry of new households into the village. In this sense it was easier to access this form of livelihood than to become engaged in timber related activities (where social networks and knowledge of remote areas were key). For households such as HH04, who came with capital, they were able to start clearing land and farming quite quickly; for poorer in-migrants such as HH28 it was necessary to engage in other activities to solve day to day cash flow and food needs so the progress in starting to farm was somewhat slower. The increased focus on agriculture within the case study households is clear from the changes through the year (see Table 5-7). Six of the eight households increased the amount of land under cultivation between the end of 2007 and the end of 2008. The two households who did not increase land under cultivation, did nevertheless buy more agricultural land in the course of that year: these were both small households relying, for lifecycle reasons (i.e. mothers were at home with small children), on the labour of one man involved in the timber industry.
Table 5-7: Case Study Households in Bey Village Land holding and farming, 2007 and 2008.

Origins of adult HH HH members number

Rice land Chamcar chamcar owned 2007 (ha) 1 0.5 : 0

owned: Chamcar farmed chamcar 2008 (ha) 1.5 : 0.5

owned: farmed

All adults village


in HH43

Some adults born in HH56 village HH74 HH31 No adults born village but local No adults village born in HH65 HH16 in HH04 HH28

0 1 1.5 0.3 0 1 0

3:0 0:0 6:0 0.8 : 0 1 : 0.5 3: 1.8 4:0

3 : 0.2 1:0 6:2 2:0 2:1 5.5 : 1.8 4 : 1.5

Source: Field Data, Land and Livelihood Survey (1) January 2008, Land and Livelihood Survey (2) October 2008

A central element of smallholder agriculture as a livelihood strategy is the inherent risk in an activity where there is a gap of several months between the investment of effort and the return on that investment. Following the success of the cassava crop in 2007 there was a rush to cassava in 2008 as villagers attempted to benefit from the 1000 USD per hectares that seemed to be available. Unfortunately for them, and countless others throughout the region, the price of cassava fell (Interview 92, 161). In Bey it fell from around 550 riels in 2007 to around 210 riels in 128

2008. At this level a profit was still possible, but far from the sorts of levels that had been anticipated and according to some it was not even possible to get 100 riels per kg at market (Interview 140). Furthermore, because the price was low, and because it is possible to leave cassava in the field after it is ripe, many did not harvest their crop until quite late in the hope that the prices would rise again. However, this meant the risk that the harvest would be damaged if there were early rains, and that was precisely what was happening during our final visit in February 2009. The risks intrinsic to smallholder agriculture are not confined to the unpredictable vagaries of markets and weather. We were with Kim Nary when she went to her chamcar for the first time for six weeks. Her daughter had been giving birth to Narys second grandchild and Nary had been at home looking after her. On the way to the chamcar Nary was telling us about the excellent pumpkin crop she had that year, and how it would be ready for harvest: when we got there all of the pumpkins had been stolen (Interview 27). In addition these uncertainties, which are more or less inherent to smallholder farming, are the uncertainties related to the competition for land in a situation where all farming activity is strictly speaking illegal. This will be discussed more in the section on the Competition for Land which follows. Overall, then, we found that while smallholder farming was not yet an important source of income for many households, and was a difficult and risky endeavour, it was here that people saw their futures. Deforestation and forest degradation had meant that there was little future in timber related activities. Villagers hoped, therefore, that they might be able to establish themselves as smallholder farmers producing cash crops in a transformed landscape. Our visit to one household, which had arrived at the village from Kampong Cham in 2002, so three or four years earlier than the other newcomers, showed that for a household with capital, and with agricultural experience, and with land with a stream running through it, that this might be a viable option. Whether such a prospect would have been realistic for households without farming experience, and whether it would be realistic on land not endowed with a reliable water source is uncertain. Hiring Out Agricultural Labour While smallholder farming figured high in villagers aspirations and expectations, but low in terms of actual incomes for most households, the opposite was true of agricultural labouring. Villagers did not consider themselves to be agricultural labourers, nor was it the future that they envisaged for themselves. It was, however, an important source of income for many households. This was demonstrated both in January 2008 when 72% of households reported income from hiring out agricultural labour, and by the survey in November 2008 where 45 out of 120 respondents (38%) said that agricultural labour had been the most important livelihood activity for their household during the previous six months. As with other livelihood activities, there was considerable variation according to the background of the household. New in-migrants to the village were more likely (59%) to report agricultural labour as their main household income, than households that were already formed when the research began in 2006 (22%). The experiences of another case study household husband Panny and wife Panna illustrate some of the changes in agricultural labour during the study period (Interviews 15-22). They moved to Bey in July 2006, just two weeks before our first visit to the village. During their first six months 129

in the village, they reported that their main source of income (62%) had been the money they had got from selling assets when they moved. However, agricultural labouring (29%) was their only reported earned income (with the remaining 9% of their reported income being money given to them by friends when their children were sick)84. During the first year or so in the village, they mainly worked on land near the village that belonged to outsiders who were clearing forest and planting there. In early 2008 wife Panna had begun to work for the head-teacher who had claimed a large area between Bey and the neighbouring village and was working it, or so he claimed, on behalf of one of the Prime Ministers daughters and two of her high-ranking friends. Panna said that the head-teacher had threatened villagers, saying that only his land was legally owned, and that if people tried to work on their own land that he would report them to the police and the soldiers for working on State land, so they must only work on his land. At this time, Panna was actually acting as an intermediary for the head-teacher, collecting wages from him and distributing them to everyone who worked on his land. By the end of the year the head-teacher was using external labour young men trucked direct out to the plantation in the middle of the night and Panny and Panna had become less reliant on agricultural labour because husband Panny had accepted an offer of work returning to his former role as a policeman in Kampong Cham province, which meant that he was away for about half of the time, but that he brought in most of the households income through earnings related to that job. While agricultural labouring dominated their income at first, the family seemed to be succeeding in its ambition to establish a smallholding. Initially growing soya beans on their house land, they also bought and planted an area of chamcar opposite their house, growing soya beans on it in 2007 and then cassava in 2008. They intended to interplant rubber with these crops and gradually become smallholder rubber farmers. For this household, then, with the benefit of their farming experience, as well as a new, non-local income stream, agricultural labour had indeed seemed to serve the temporary purpose of enabling the household to cope until they could fully establish as smallholder farmers. At the beginning of the research, agricultural labour was something that was carried out beyond the immediate confines of the village. People (like Panny and Panna above) would work on land that was being cleared mainly by Cham settlers who were converting forest nearby. Within the village, most households who were embarking on chamcar farming did so using their own family labour, and mutual assistance i.e. a group of households pooled their labour and took it in turns working on each others land (e.g. Interviews 3, 16, 19). As increasingly large areas were cleared during 2008 the price of agricultural labour rose quite dramatically doubling from about 7000 riels to 15000 riels per day. With labour being scarce, the head-teacher introduced two other solutions which may give some clues as to the future in the terms of households engagement in agricultural labour as a livelihood activity: first the use of threats of violence (under the cloak of a claim of legality) to force people to work on a certain plantation; second the use of temporary imported labour at cheaper prices (Interview 17). While no household saw its future as largely dependent on agricultural labouring during the research period, this could change. Smallholder farming, wood trading and various other livelihoods are all aspired to, whilst agricultural labouring was seen as a short-term fix, resorted

These figures do not include the husbands occasional income from working as a chainsaw assistant (fetching and carrying for a chainsaw operator in a team in the forest). This happened very rarely, and at that time, new to the village and uncertain about admitting to illegal activities he preferred not to tell us about it.


to in order to solve food and cash-flow shortages while waiting for the harvest or other work. However, many households gave agricultural labour as their primary source of income, and one possibility is that this ends up having more long-term significance. However, during the study period conditions have been favourable for agricultural labour: there has been quite a large demand with new land being cleared, and the area is still considered somewhat wild and poor and therefore has not attracted so many migrant labourers. These factors are likely to change. Gathering and Trading Non-Timber Forest Products Traditionally, non-timber forest products (NTFP) have been an important source of income for villagers in Bey. While there had always been some logging, and also some agriculture in the village, it was the gathering and trading of non-timber forest products that were reported as traditionally comprising the main source of food and incomes for villagers. First and foremost amongst these, as we have seen, were the harvesting of rattan and tapping of resin from hard wood trees. Villagers used to be able to collect resin all year round and to sell it either by taking it down to the Mekong, or by selling to traders who came to the village. The assistant village chief and her husband were both born in the village. She told us that when she was young there had been thirty or forty households in the village, and it had been a walk of five or six kilometres to the resin trees. Today, however, she said it took about four hours to get to an area where some resin trees could be found. In 2006 she collected some resin, and said it was possible to collect between 5 and 10 kg per day, and to sell them for 700 riels per kilogramme. However, she said that it was hard work to carry 10 kilogrammes of resin back and that 7000 riels (less than 2 US dollars) was the rate for agricultural labour at the time, and that was much easier, as well as less risky because sometimes when she went out to collect resin she could only get 2-3 kilogrammes in the day. She emphasised that this was different from the situation in the past. Then the trees had been much nearer and some men could carry as much as 20 kilogrammes home every day. In this area there had never been any defined ownership of trees or of tapping rights to specific trees, people just used to go out and tap the resin (Interview 80). Likewise, a 71 year old man, also born in the village recalling even longer back:
At that time there were strict laws which were enforced. People were not allowed to go into the forest and cut the forest. The forestry officers did not allow that. But people were allowed to cut from the forest within about three kilometres from the village to build houses, but not to trade timber. Villagers were allowed to look for resin and could easily get this, and rattan and leaves to make roof material. Not like today when everything is difficult to find. As a boy he would go with his parents to collect resin. They might get 3-5 kg in a day, sometimes even as much as 10 kg. At that time a kilogramme was worth 3-4 riels. (Interview 109, Authors field notes, not transcription)

However, the cheu teal trees that could be tapped for resin were amongst the hardwood trees that were so attractive to the various logging interests that have been active in and beyond the village during the past twenty-five years. It is the transformations wrought by logging which have led to the situation where a journey to collect resin is now much longer and yields much smaller rewards. For villagers who have grown up in Bey, resin collection has changed from being their 131

primary income source to becoming a secondary resort when there is no work available cutting or transporting timber. To the extent that gathering of NTFPs is still an activity in the village, it is one that is predominantly carried out by villagers who were born or grew up in the area. The one case study household that has reported a substantial income from gathering non-timber forest products was HH56, where the wife was a native of the village and her husband had come back to the village with her. They reported that 31% of their income in the twelve months to spring 2007 had come from NTFPs, comprising 23% from resin and 8% from Treang85. In another case study household, where both adults were born and brought up in the village, the husband explained that he used to collect resin, but that he did not do so any more because all of the trees had gone (Interview 30). Members of both the two case study households who had migrated from Kampong Cham province, had attempted to go out and collect resin. Their comparative disadvantage in this quickly came apparent as they went out on the long trips, collected almost no resin and came back sick with malaria. Panna, in HH 28, explained that she went with old villagers, who were each able to collect 8-10 kilogrammes on the trip, but that she was not even able to collect 2 kilogrammes and that she was sick for three days afterwards (Interview 15). In the village census at the beginning of August 2006 only one of the 198 adults in the village was reported to be collecting NTFPs on the day of the interview. As mentioned above, this result is partly biased by the fact that rice transplanting was underway and a third of adults were busy working in the fields, nevertheless with a further third of adults at home either doing domestic work, resting or recovering from illness, it remained the case that there were over sixty adults who were neither in the rice fields nor at home, but only one of them was engaged in NTFP collection. The livelihood matrix in the Land and Livelihood Survey (1) in January 2008 gave a more comprehensive view of how many households engage in NTFP related activities. Of the 84 households who were interviewed, only nine reported having taken any part in NTFP collection during the previous six months. It seemed, therefore, that it was both a small and dwindling proportion of the village who participated in collecting resin and other NTFPs. In the Land and Livelihood Survey (2), in late 2008, only 2 of the 120 responding households reported resin collection or NTFPs as their main livelihood activity. It was striking that while so many of the houses in the village had been improved during the course of the research, and motorcycles, televisions and DVD players proliferated, these were two households which still looked extremely impoverished (insert photo HH79). They were also households that were beset by problems of alcoholism and domestic violence (Interview 123). In follow-up interviews in early 2009 to discover the extent of their resin incomes they doubted whether resin was in fact quite so important and thought that they probably earned more from agricultural labouring. Overall, then, there was a clear trend. NTFPs in general, and specifically resin and rattan had been an important part of villagers livelihoods several decades earlier. At that time food had

Source: Income and Expenditure Survey of 8 Case Study Households, March 2007.


been plentiful, and resin could be traded for rice for those who did not grow it, and for cash for other requirements. In recent times deforestation, especially during the 1990s had ensured that there were very few resin trees left, and that it was a longer journey to get to them. Only a small proportion of villagers now collect resin, and the households that have this as a significant source of income are amongst the very poorest in the village. Trading land Nobody at any stage reported to us that they personally traded land in the village. On the other hand, many people were willing to testify that many or even most of their fellow villagers had been engaged in land trading. However, there is at least one household, whose members having settled in the village bought a large tract of land (stretching from opposite the school all the way to the stream at the entrance of the village so a front of about 700 meters along the road) extremely cheaply and has since sold it off at a significant profit (Interview 4). There were likewise oblique references to people who had been marking off land and selling it to outsiders and earning very large amounts of money by doing so86. In order to discover more we focused a little more attention on the economies of households that had been able to build expensive houses (see Photograph at Figure 5-5). There were 7 households with houses either complete or under construction that were worth upwards of 5,000 USD and in some cases clearly well over 10,000 USD), there were again denials that they personally had had any involvement in the purchasing and selling of land. Rather they suggested that everyone else in the village had been doing that, and that the only reason that they did not all have fine new houses was that some people knew how to save and invest money, while others just knew how to spend it (Interview 51). One senior villager (who had not, as yet, invested his money from timber and land trading in a large new house) was terse on this subject, saying simply that anyone who had a large house had been trading land (Interview 108).


It was fairly clear in many cases who was being referred to, but given the extent to which villagers chose not to use names, it would not seem appropriate to speculate in print.


Figure 5-5: House worth 7000 USD in Bey Village, November 2008 (Photo: Robin Biddulph)

Livelihood Activities in a Deforestation Trajectory

We can conclude this detailed account of livelihoods in Bey by returning to the idea of livelihood trajectories or pathways raised in the introduction to this section. The changes in livelihood activity and the demographic changes in the village can be related to the process of deforestation that has been in progress during the years leading up to and including research project. Table 5-8 below is an attempt to show how some of the specific issues in Bey might be abstracted to provide a more generalised theoretical model of how deforestation87 affects livelihoods. It captures the logic and dynamics of a process whereby a market for timber attracts new actors, transforms the role of the State, and places the local economy in a much wider context. It is no longer characterised by its remoteness but by its centrality to an extraction process.


This dissertation is not the place to develop this idea further, however, it can be noted that the framework applies particularly to deforestation that is driven by economic incentives which attract actors from beyond the local area (i.e. the profits that can accrue from the sale of timber, or from the post-forest exploitation of land, or most likely both). The Deforestation Trajectory that I suggest here would not have the same explanatory power in cases where a low value, marginal forest is being consumed by local people without being directly driven by non-local market forces and the arrival of non-local actors.


Table 5-8: Deforestation Livelihood Trajectory suggested by experience in Bey 1960s 2000s

Phase 1.Predeforestation

Structural Process Pre-existing dynamic relationship between the community and the forest resources.

Local Livelihood implications A range of possibilities, but naive assumptions that forest-dependent communities are non-monetised and subsistence oriented should be avoided Opportunities in timber trade depend on relations with external actors. May be greater of less than predeforestation. NTFP decline, quite possibly to a point where NTFPs cannot sustain a livelihood. Locals may not have a background in farming and may not be able to take advantage. In-migration by agriculturalists may shape opportunity through both demonstration and competition. Outsiders with capital and a business mindset may benefit more than locals from land trading. Locals may unwittingly sell cheaply.

2.Timber boom/NTFP decline

External actors begin cutting on a larger scale. The implied threat to the forest resource creates a strong incentive for villagers to deforest.

3.Turn to agriculture

As forest is degraded, firstmovers identify agricultural possibilities and make initial claims for land.

4. Land boom/ Competition for Land

As agricultural potential is proven, land prices rise rapidly. Land speculation accompanies the transition to agriculture. Competition for land, including between plantation and smallholder interests, works out, alongside the process of establishing whether farming is sustainable.

5. Shakedown (reterritorialisation)

Secure livelihoods within agriculture (as labourers or smallholders) may be possible, but may also be threatened by dispossession in the competition for land or by rapid deterioration of virgin soils.

Source: Author

The terms of incorporation might vary dramatically. We have witnessed in Bey how poor villagers were able to participate in and (at least in the short term) profit from the timber boom. Le Billon (2002) has suggested that the opposite happened, and I myself did field work in a village on the opposite side of the Mekong to Chhlong district town in 1997 where rather than being co-opted into the timber harvesting, villagers were shut out by armed security guards and lost access not only to timber but to the NTFPs. What the trajectory suggests, though, is that the 135

defining feature for local livelihoods is less the timber boom than the competition for land that follows88. We complete the discussion of the immanent development context of Bey village by looking in more detail at the competition for land in and around Bey, and how that affects the future prospects of the villagers who live there. 5.2.3 Prospects Explained: The Competition for Land Introduction

The competition for land in Bey began long before the research for this project started, and was far from complete by the time it finished. However, notwithstanding the element of smoke and mirrors that inevitably attends such shadow market activity, we did manage to gain some insights into the ways that some of the actors operate, and how tenure insecurity was created and experienced. I (eventually) was able to interview members of the provincial authorities, district forest administration and the local concession company representative which gave me access to information that would have been far beyond the reach of most villagers. On the other hand, I assume that this understanding only scrapes at the surface of this competition, and that especially amongst the more entrepreneurial and well-connected villagers there will have been issues that were common knowledge which nevertheless eluded us. For local people, the competition for land was one that they participated in, but with a strong sense that other actors or forces could quickly come into play and crush any gains that they had made. Emblematic of this were the signs that people had put up on the road to the east of the village to claim land. What all of these had in common was that the name of the claimant was never legible. Villagers had to walk a narrow line. On the one hand they wanted to assert a claim, but on the other hand there was the constant threat that a rule of law or public good argument could be mobilised to define their particular claim as illegal leaving them open to retribution. Such is the balancing act, for villagers, of dealing with the shadow/developmental state. The remainder of this section first discusses some of the main actors in the competition for land, and how they appeared (or didnt) on the village scene, there is then a brief discussion of an illuminating case that we heard about just a few kilometres north of the village, before a concluding discussion draws together some of the themes in the immanent development of Bey. The Vietnamese Company

Following initial familiarisation visits we arrived in Bey to begin research in earnest on the 26th July 2006. In a coincidence that would shape the whole project, and which particularly overshadowed the first half of the project, forestry officials held a meeting in the village on our first morning at work in the village, 27th July 2006. Having obtained permission from the village chief to attend, I sat amongst the villagers as a Forestry Administration official presented a map of the village. On this map all land within five hundred meters of the access roads west and south

It has become commonplace to argue that deforestation is not driven by demand for timber, but by demand for the post-forest land-use (e.g. Grainger, 2008). This may be true where there is a particularly lucrative post-forest land use and/or the prospect of good governance of the forest resource. However, as McKenney et al. (2004) have convincingly argued, in conditions of poor governance, the timber resource itself is more than sufficient to explain the incentives to cut and run.


of the village had been shaded. The official explained that this was forestry land and that all families resident on this land (about thirty of the villages 82 households at the time) were illegal occupiers. They would be required to leave it in order that the forest could grow back. This, they explained, was simply them implementing the Forestry Law on behalf of the nation and its people. Chan, the former Khmer Rouge commander who is the head of the villages community forestry group asked questions during the meeting. The forestry official, Mr Muntrei Cheu tried to object to one person asking all of the questions. However, the other villagers, previously silent, responded firmly that they liked Chans questions and wanted him to continue with them. Chan asked why the Forestry Administration was just concentrating its efforts on the poor people who live along the road, but was not doing anything about the big people in the forests who had sawmills and who destroyed a lot of trees. Mr Muntrei Cheu promised that he would be systematic and that in time he would also go after people further from the road. Chan asked what rights the Casotim company had in the area. Cheu responded that he had only been in his job for two months so was unable to answer the question. Meanwhile, even while informing the villagers that they were to be evicted from their land, Mr Muntrei Cheu repeatedly maintained that the State cared for them and wanted to look after them. He held up a government document on land redistribution as evidence that the State cared for them (see Photography at Figure 5-6). The Sub-Decree on Social Land Concessions is a legal document subsidiary to the 2001 land law which enables the state to divest itself of certain categories of land and redistribute them to poor people. The villagers inevitably asked if there was land available for them to move to, and his answer, (equally inevitably) was no. But he argued that they should not be without hope, because the sub-decree should give them hope as it showed that the State cared89. This eviction threat can be interpreted as being the local manifestation of an initiative from the Prime Minister in May 2006. In May 2006 the Prime Minister had issued an edict and made speeches (Sen, 2006, p. e.g.) to the effect that he wanted to make sure that powerful people would not be able to exploit the nations forests. He was fed up of hearing that his officials had been targeting poor people and he now wanted them to go after the big people involved in encroaching on State forests. The forestry official cited and distributed the Prime Ministers edict, but, as Chan pointed out in the meeting, its logic had been reversed. The action being taken was one that targeted the poor (villagers living along the road) and ignored the wealthy (business men running sawmills in the forests). One could read this sympathetically as the Prime Minister being frustrated in attempts to lead a fight against corruption in the state apparatus. Or one could read it more cynically as the Prime Minister making political capital of appearing to defend the poor, while in fact maintaining his

The irony of this situation was not lost on me. Working both through Oxfam GB and through the German advisory team at the Ministry of Land Management Urban Planning and Construction I had been involved in the preparation of the Social Land Concessions Sub-Decree. Social Land Concessions had been envisaged as a means by which poor people, who had missed out during the grabbing of former state land both by government officials following the transition from communism and by military following the arrival of peace, might yet be able to claim back some small part of this land. It had certainly not been intended by any of its international supporters that it should be used to placate people who were being dispossessed by the State as it sought to reassert its claims.


own position through the very practices of enabling the rich to dispossess the poor. What was indisputable, however, was that the formal intentions outlined at national level became transformed in the course of their journey to the village. So Social Land Concessions, being officially an instrument by which to distribute land to poor people, became an instrument to placate them when they were to be made landless. Meanwhile, the Prime Ministers edict to target wealthy encroachers became an instrument to target the poor.

Figure 5-6: Forestry Official holds up the Social Land Concession Sub-decree at the 27th July 2006 meeting in Bey village. (Photopgraph: Robin Biddulph)

In early 2007 villagers reported that a Vietnamese company was seeking to obtain an economic concession to establish a plantation in the area. Company staff were reported to have been in the village for the first time on 22 January 2007, and to have made several subsequent visits in order to conduct soil testing (Interview 57). This gave rise to much anxious speculation in the village. Community Forestry activist Long Chan reported that they had promised that only land six kilometers from the village would be taken by the company, (though he saw them carrying out tests within 200 meters of the village). Rumours began to swirl. Another villager had heard that they would be granted an initial 1000 hectares which would potentially be expanded to 40 000 hectares, and furthermore that the plan had been that they would pay a rent to the government of 1000 USD per hectare per year. However, he also reported that their soil tests had only identified 300 of the 1000 hectares as suitable for rubber (Interview 8). In time it became apparent that the two stories the one of the Forest Administration seeking to allow the forest to grow back for the good of the nation, and the other of the Vietnamese 138

company looking for a site to establish a plantation were in fact one story. During interviews at the Forestry Administration office in the provincial town, I sought to find out about progress in relation to the proposed evictions. Villagers had protested and these protests were to be investigated. In February 2007 I was told that similar processes had occurred in over 100 villages in 21 communes in the province, but that no investigations had yet been completed (Interview 208). By September 2007 it was explained the investigations had now been abandoned because the Vietnamese company was no longer coming. In other words, far from reclaiming the forest for the nation and enabling it to grow back, as Mr Muntrei Cheu had claimed, the intention had been to negotiate a concession with the Vietnamese company (Interview 210). The prospect that the Vietnamese company might move in had in the meantime created a general sense of insecurity about land holdings (e.g. Interview 1), and also in some cases caused people to not clear and plant their land for fear they would soon lose it (e.g. Interview 30). In summary, what this case started to show was the way in which the apparent good intentions of national policies and legislation could easily be transformed into instruments by which the path could be smoothed for non-local actors hoping to win control over the land upon which villagers hopes were pinned. The Casotim Company and the Okhnyaa

They say it is Casotim, Casotim land, but then we see big people coming in and farming that land (Interview 149)

During the years of intensive logging villagers occasionally used to see Russians in the village, but this never happened in the course of the study. It was only the presence of Russian representatives at occasional meetings about community forestry, and in company documents that I saw at the Forestry Administration offices that gave evidence that there was still an international involvement and that Casotim was not simply a front for local business interests90. For villagers the identity of Casotim was closely related to the identity of the man who was the company representative in the district. He was a local man who many villagers knew: some inmigrants from the Mekong had been to school with him before the Pol Pot times (Interviews 103, 107); others knew him from when he drove a truck through the village in the 1990s (Interview 71). Since then he had become what they referred to as a big person (neak thom) with the rank of Okhnyaa. Okhnyaa is an honorary position bestowed by the Cambodian state to wealthy benefactors who have contributed to national development. The contribution should be at least 100 000 USD and normally be in the form of infrastructure. Implicit in becoming an Okhnyaa is the informal understanding that ones business interests will be protected. According to the Bey village head-teacher, the Casotim district representative had paid 200 000 USD in order to obtain his rank (Interview 158).


This was a possibility that had occurred to me, and was also suggested by a villager (Interview 13). The Active Communities director, commenting on this text, recalled a TV broadcast in 2003 showing a Russian businessman meeting with Cambodian officials. He said that even at that time, when other logging concessions were in the process of producing forest management plans, there was speculation that Casotims intention was to convert its logging concession into a land concession.


When I interviewed him in 2008, the Okhnyaa shared the companys plans for developing the land within the concession area (Interview 218). CASOTIM had applied to the government in 2007, and received approval in 2008, to convert 15,000 hectares of forest to plantation over a ten year period. The official correspondence and the attached maps and plans showed a series of ten 1,500 hectare plots, which would be developed one per year. The seventh of these was within two kilometres of the eastern boundary of Bey village, and would effectively dispossess most of the villagers of most of their agricultural land. During the course of 2007-8 a number of villagers had already been driven off land that they had claimed to the east of Bey by Casotim soldiers. These soldiers had threatened villagers with rifles and had taken their motorcycles, water containers, knives and machetes. Villagers had to pay the soldiers in order to recover this equipment the following day (Interviews 4, 25, 26, 37, 81). One of our case study families was such a household: they had bought three hectares of land about six kilometres east of the village, but having been driven off the land once they did not dare to reoccupy and farm it again. Here were cases, then, which perfectly matched the narratives used to justify programmes of systematic land titling in chapter 2: insecurity of tenure was restricting agricultural investment and productivity. With secure tenure these households would have invested more, produced more and been better off. In response to questions about villagers occupation of land for farming, the Okhnyaa replied that the company was prepared for villagers to claim up to five hectares per household. Although he was sceptical as to whether most households would be capable of farming as many as five hectares. On the other hand, he expressed extreme disapproval of land speculation. He confirmed a story that we had heard of the newly-elected commune chief claiming and selling off plots of land for about 500 USD each in the area of the hamlet of Pram Toch. He declared his intention to take the commune chief to court over this and to ensure he got sacked as a result91. This would seem to suggest that villagers might have some chance to acquire the smallholder plots which they hope for. However, it is important to note that the only formal communication with the concession company tends to go through the Forestry Administration, who are much more hostile to the idea of forest lands being converted to smallholder agriculture. Likewise, that (as the case of Kang Cheung below demonstrates), if the plantation development does proceed according to plan there is likely to be a variety of actors converging on Bey in order to both claim land and to judge the claims. The outcomes of such a process would be difficult to predict and would not necessarily support the interests of the current villagers. The Head-Teacher ... and The South Korean Company?

Young, educated, enthusiastic and charming, as well as being large and powerful by Cambodian standards, the head-teacher of the 3-room village school became a controversial figure in the competition for land. Reasonably popular when we arrived, particularly amongst the younger men in the village with whom he used to drink and go on motorcycle trips, he gradually became extremely unpopular, both for the way that he neglected his teaching duties (e.g. Interview 49) and for his business dealing.

The court case took place during the following month but no judgement had been issued when our research concluded in March 2009.


He also had some experience with foreigners. He claimed to have been close friends with his English teacher, an international volunteer called Ursula, in the provincial town, and he had also received support from an Italian NGO to set up a handicrafts workshop in his home village on the Mekong. He was solicitous of me and keen not only to establish a relationship, but also for the rest of the village to see that he had established a relationship with me. Amongst his strategies to woo me were to present me with the telephone numbers of the Casotim representative, and also of the older brother of the Prime Minister (but on the strict instruction that I was not to use the latter!). He had believed that he had been on his way to becoming a rich man through a logging deal with the Prime Ministers brother, but that went bad and now he was restless and ambitious for another opportunity. In mid-2007 the head-teacher had been rumoured to have been arranging to sell land in the village area to a high ranking woman (with the title Excellency), and had spent 11-15 August 2007 surveying land with a GPS and marking it (Interview 67). By January 2008 an area rumoured to be 2000 hectares had been marked and was being cleared. Some wealthy looking ladies had been to visit in two expensive four wheel drive vehicles, accompanied by military bodyguards on motorcycles. During our fourth visit, a group of angry villagers from the next village arrived at the house of the head of the community forestry committee while one of us was interviewing him. They represented 40 households who had been dispossessed by the headteachers plantation, and were seeking his help to present a letter of complaint and a petition saying that they had acquired this land three or four years before the head-teacher, and that he had no right to steal it from them (Interviews 14, 69). When I interviewed the head-teacher later during that visit, he claimed that the excellencies were a daughter to the Prime Minister Hun Sen called Srey Neang92, a first cousin to the Prime Ministers wife Bun Rany called Nai and another high ranking lady called Toch. He said that they were in the process of making an agreement with the Casotim company. Regarding villagers complaints, he argued that villagers in the area were ignorant and did not understand that all of the land belonged to Casotim, and that anyone who cleared or traded that land was violating the rights of the company. Furthermore, that if the excellencies came and carried out plantation farming that this would be good for the villagers because they would build roads and factories and therefore all of the inhabitants would benefit from development (Interview 158). During the last days of our final field visit we heard that in the end the Excellencies had chosen another area of land to do their plantation, and that the one that had been cleared was owned by the head-teacher. We had no way of knowing what the truth was at this stage in a prolonged game of smoke and mirrors. Our information was no better than that of the villagers themselves. What was clear, though, was that the teacher, whether acting in his own interests or in the interests of wealthy outsiders (who may or may not have been who they claimed they were), had succeeded in occupying and farming that 2000 hectare plot, and in the process had deprived the forty complainants from the neighbouring village of their claims to smallholder plots.


The Prime Minister does not have a daughter named Srey Neang, although I do not know if one of his daughters has this as a nickname.


Cham Settlers

Settlement of former forest by communities of Cham people is a feature of the landscape in Chhlong district. The national road from Kampong Cham province to Chhlong is lined with houses that have been built on land which was forested a decade ago. The tracks from the national road out to Bey are likewise dotted with new Cham villages. At the time of the research no Cham households had settled in the village (although one Cham woman had married a Khmer man there), but one plot had been purchased and cleared prior to occupation in the centre of the village (Interview 61), and nearby Pram village was said to have a large Cham population (Interview 157). During the research period Cham people had already established claims to large tracts of land to the north of the village. Villagers noted that Cham people did not get driven off their land by Casotim soldiers in the way that they did and suspected that Cham organisations had done deals in order to secure their tenure (Interview 25). On the other hand, there were also rumours that Casotim was going to reassert its own claim and that the Cham settlers would be forced off the land (Interview 140). There was some conflict between Cham settlers and the villagers of Bey. On one occasion the deputy village chief recruited the assistance of local military units to try and address land conflicts at the northern border of the village (Interview 101), while villagers complained that any time that their cattle which traditionally are allowed to roam free during the rainy season strayed into newly-occupied Cham areas that they would be cut with knives and sent back (Interviews 43, 51)93. Having said that, there did not appear to be any generalised ill will between Bey villagers and Cham people. On one occasion there had been fighting at a festival at the pagoda and one of the village youths was injured by a young Cham. The next day the Cham youngster turned up in the village in order to pay compensation, which everyone seemed to think was correct and attracted no negative comments or remarks. In addition to the already established Cham settlement, there was also a rumour circulating that a new Cham village for about 900 households would be established about 10 kilometers east of Bey (Interview 103, 157). In one case a household from Bey who had claimed land near there had it taken from them on the grounds that it was for the new village (Interview 143). As far as we could discover, the Cham who had acquired land near Bey had not settled in the area but were still based in their home villages, mainly along the Mekong. It was unclear how they had managed to negotiate their presence in these places, but it did seem that they often fared well both in individual conflicts and in terms of their ability to remain on the land which they settled. The Casotim representative was evasive regarding the Cham, not being able to give any explanation as to why the company permitted them to settle (Interview 218). However, to have settled as extensively as they had seemed to imply a degree of either political connectedness or economic reach or social cohesion that would make them imposing rivals in the competition for land in the area of Bey. Their presence was yet further evidence that the green forest on official maps should not be seen as spaces of nature, but that they might often be staked out in privatised plots by private agents exploiting informal links to the authorities.

The Active Communities director pointed out that grazing of cattle on forest land is an important element of livelihoods in many parts of the country: while in Bey cattles importance mainly related to transport of timber and some agricultural work, in other parts of the country trading of cattle was a key income source.


The Case of Khang Cheung

We learned of a case just a few kilometres north of Bey which reinforced our understanding of just how difficult it would be, even with the appropriate political will, to take meaningful action on behalf of the local poor. This concerned local peoples attempts to resist a plantation development by Casotim, and the way that a national intervention was undertaken94. When we heard about it, the case had been the subject of a preliminary investigation, but was far from closed. It began in mid-2007 when four villagers, who were part of a small settlement that would fall within a plantation planned by the Casotim company, succeeded in forwarding a petition to the Prime Minister. Our informant was a former government official who had been directly involved in the affair. He explained that the Prime Minister had responded by ordering that villagers who had agricultural land in the area should be allowed to keep it. An interdepartmental provincial working group under the provincial governor was then despatched to the site in order to identify all households who had land there. At first, local people refused to cooperate. This reluctance was unsurprising given that the Forestry Administration officials who had drawn up the forms had headed them Names of the people who have illegally stolen the land of the State. After some heated discussions within the provincial team the process was made more settler-friendly and, using Geographic Information System and survey equipment from the provincial land department, they proceeded to register 438 households to 281 plots (some plots were multi-household as the provincial team did not have time to do a detailed survey). This result, however, became a source of some controversy. When officials later examined the 438 household names they discovered that only 15 of them were on the original protest letter submitted by the four leaders. It was argued that somebody must have been selling land illegally on a large scale. A follow-up investigation was therefore due to investigate who had been buying and selling the land, with a view to punishing any speculators. Our informant, meanwhile, was sceptical about the rights of the settlers as a whole, saying that when he had driven past this site just four years previously, there had only been two or three houses there. Clearly, then, it remained possible that the legitimacy of any of the claims could be challenged, and that a witchhunt for land speculators could become the means by which other actors could overturn the results of the provincial work-teams survey and ultimately dispossess the current settlers once the Prime Ministers attention had moved on to other matters. This ongoing, inconclusive case provided indications of what might be expected if villagers rights to land they occupied in Bey were ever to be investigated. Firstly, of course, the hostility of forestry officials to any activity that implied that the forest would be transformed to another use meant that villagers were unlikely to receive support from that quarter. Secondly, the uncertainty caused by an absence of any trustworthy, respected source of information. In such a case, it would inevitably be the existing networks and relationships between village authorities and higher authorities that would determine outcomes. If such a circumstance arose in Bey, it would undoubtedly be the deputy village chief whose interpretation of history would be definitive. His long-term allies, and those who had successfully ingratiated themselves with him through business dealings, would have a better chance of having their possession recognised; those who had alienated him would have little chance. Thirdly, whatever immediate effect high level

This section is based on material from Interview 193 with a Kracheh provincial official 29 th October 2008.


interventions had, there was a strong likelihood that the prevailing business and political relations would be able to reassert themselves with time. Decisions can always be modified and renegotiated once higher levels are paying less attention. Arguably this is integral to the sort of neo-patrimonial governance that obtains in Cambodia. Clients deliver on the major priorities of their patrons (elections, security etc) and in return are allowed a reasonably free hand to manage economic opportunities in the territories allocated to them. 5.2.4 Reflections: Mediating Actors and Factors in the Competition for Land and Livelihoods The Role of the Forest Administration

The Forestry Administration did not evict the villagers of Bey, despite the threat at the meeting on 27th July 2006. However, by holding that meeting they did contribute to a sense of insecurity amongst the villagers. If nothing else was achieved, the villagers were at least reminded that their land did not belong to them, and that they did not have the right to live in the forest. At the same time as keeping peoples tenure weak, the Forestry Administration also served as a buffer between the companies who were operating (or potentially operating) concessions in the area, and others who might criticize or resist them. Hence that first meeting was not in fact to protect the forest, but to enable a smoother path for the Vietnamese company which was preparing plans for a plantation. Regarding Casotim, Forestry Administration officials claimed complete ignorance as when Chan questioned Mr Muntrei Cheu about Casotims rights in the area, and Cheu replied that he had only been in his role for two months so could not answer the question. Likewise, when I was at the Forestry Administration office in the provincial town I was told that Casotims operations were suspended and, at the Forestry Administration office at the district town I was always told that the Casotim district representative was away in Phnom Penh, or that they did know where he was. To the extent that I did wish to build relationships with the Forestry Administration officials, my efforts were undermined as they were rotated every two or three years. So just as I was unable to develop the personal relationships that I would have needed to achieve my aims, villagers would also have been frustrated if they had been similarly strategically oriented and wished to win over the officials or in some way hold them to account. The Forestry Administration had not been a major driver of the changes that had occurred in Bey, but the stories of chainsaws being taken from villagers and then returned to them again for cash the next morning were perhaps illustrative of the sort of role that institution has been able to play. Indigenous and Forest-dependent, but not Ethnically Different

Political ecology and social movement literature is replete with examples of attempts to support indigenous people to resist the loss of their livelihoods and ways of life (e.g. Brysk, 1996; Colchester, 1993; du Monceau de Bergendal Labarca, 2008). The destructive effects of the exposure to market forces are commonplace, as are the difficulties faced by indigenous people who are not experienced in the ways of thinking associated with entrepreneurship and investment and competition when they are suddenly exposed to competition with outsiders well-versed in the ways of capital and markets. 144

Just such differences are apparent in Bey. A way of life has already been utterly transformed, and remains in rapid and uncertain transformation. The people least able to cope are the people who have lived in the village since their parents and grandparents times. Their comparative advantages are in finding trails in the forest, in identifying resin trees and tapping them, in killing and capturing forest animals. These become less and less useful advantages when the hardwood trees have been cut down, the rattan harvested and most of the animals long-since vanished. However, there is no linguistic or ethnic marker to distinguish the people who are indigenous to Bey from the outsiders who have come in and commoditized and traded the environment and the social relations, so the transition/loss is less visible. Unlike the native ethnic minority areas further north-east in Cambodia, nobody comes to Bey in order to catalyse or support a movement to preserve the indigenous culture or relations with nature. We did not collect systematic information on this, but certainly the three households where we chanced upon severe problems with alcohol and domestic violence were all households containing adults who had grown up in the village. In Beys modern history, and particularly in the experiences of the people who were born and have lived all of their lives in the village, one can certainly recognise a transition from Riggs (2006, p. 190) old poverty (marked by isolation from the world and therefore missing many of its benefits) to new poverty (marked by engagement with the broader world which includes a new dependence on non-local factors and the loss of local resources and the self-reliance and safety net that they could provide). Community and how it mediates change

At village level, some of the most influential villagers are in quite bitter conflict with each other. In particular, the head teacher, the Hun-Bun household (deputy village chief and wife), and the community forest activist Long Chan, all have considerable animosity towards each other 95. These are the locally powerful actors whose immediate interests are relatively visible. Each of these figures is more or less popular, but one does not get a strong sense that the divisions between them are more widely reflected in the village population. One could quite easily envisage a situation where blood could be spilt as a result of the conflicts between these men/couples. On the other hand it was not the personal element of these conflicts that would make them significant for the political economy of change in the village. In addition to being in conflict with each other, these men/couples are also aligned with competing outside interests. The head-teacher is looking to attach himself to large scale plantation interests international companies and (not unrelated) senior national politicians, and to be part of the sort of development that would transform the local people into primarily agricultural labourers. Because he has no family in the village and the option of returning to his home village or to the provincial town where he was trained, he can afford high-risk liaisons with powerful outsiders that might be locally unpopular. The deputy village chief and his wife each have children who live in the village and it is their home. Their interests li.e. in profiting from


The other notably influential household, Sitha-Navy, who led the influx from Tbong Kmum district of Kampong Cham, profited hugely from land deals and have been involved in land conflicts with other villagers, appear to have finessed other actors such that they do not become embroiled in open conflict in the same way.


gradual change they broker logging deals, and now they are the first point of contact for newcomers seeking to purchase land and move into the village. And as the trusted representative of State and party in the village they are well-positioned to safeguard their interests and opportunities in this respect. Proud and outspoken, the former Khmer Rouge commander Chan is prepared to openly criticise and challenge anything which appears to destroy the forest, and anything which he regards as corruption. He objects strongly to the business dealings of the other men/couples. In interviews he reserves the right to keep his political views confidential, though others associate him with opposition party activism. He has likewise been the contact point for a series of non-governmental interventions in the area involved in malaria prevention, credit and savings activities and (as we shall learn in Part 2) community forestry. He is unlikely ever to have influence with the authorities but could well become a focus for, and indeed a generator of, resistance to initiatives that dispossess villagers, as was seen in the villagers enthusiastic support of his questioning of the Forestry Administration officials during our first morning in the village. Given that these men/couples are likely to mediate any major initiatives from outside, the shifting politics of their relationships and the way in which they mobilise alliances in the village will be a feature of any future change. If nothing else, it is important to understand that any initiative supported by one of these men/couples is likely to be bitterly opposed by the other two, using whatever resources they can muster. 5.2.5 Immanent Development and Livelihoods in Bey in Summary Bey is a village that for most of its history would have been experienced and understood as a village in forest. In recent decades, and especially since 1994 when peace came to the village, external actors have initiated a process of deforestation in the village. That process of externallydriven deforestation has been the structural factor that has shaped the livelihood trajectories of the villagers living in Bey. It has facilitated a decade and a half of economic boom for the villagers. This has particularly benefited newcomers to the village who are more business-oriented and better able to reinvest profits, but even original villagers celebrate the larger population and increased wealth saying that the village is happier than before and that they would not wish to return it to its former state even if they do miss the large trees and the abundance of wild food. The price to be paid for the increase in wealth has been an increase in insecurity. As the forest landscape becomes transformed into an agricultural landscape villagers in Bey have long since stopped having the possibility of a NTFP-based livelihood, and with logging opportunities now also dwindling they are pinning their hopes for the future on being able to become smallholder farmers. At the same time various companies and rent-seeking officials are jostling for position and making claims to land, so that no villager in Bey can be sure that their current claims to agricultural land will be respected. It was into this context that a community forestry project in the village was first initiated in 2003.



Intentional Development: Community Forestry in Bey

5.3.1 Introduction As we have seen, processes of deforestation and competition for land have dominated livelihood trajectories during the recent economic boom in the village of Bey. We began our research in the village in July 2006. Three and a half years before that, a community forestry project was established in the village. The remainder of this chapter is devoted to that project. We begin by re-tracing the story of the community forestry intervention as it was experienced in the village from early 2003 to the completion of our field research in March 2009. We then turn to the nonlocal actors who have been involved in supporting or facilitating the project in various ways, including the small Cambodian NGO which we shall call the Better Lives Organisation (BLO), the small international NGO that we shall call Active Communities (AC), as well as the international NGO Oxfam GB and the main donor during the research period the European Union. Finally the implications of the case will be reviewed in relation to both community forestry in Cambodia, and to the broader arguments about development geography in this thesis. 5.3.2 View from the Village: The Story of Community Forestry as Experienced in Bey Community forestry was introduced to the village of Bey by two members of staff of the Cambodian NGO BLO , an older man and a younger woman. The older man was a former teacher, as Chan, who later became the head of the villages community forestry committee recounted:
Teacher Rien came and told us about the benefits of forest products and about the disadvantages of damaging natural resources. He came often. He came every month or once every two months depending on the situation. Sometimes he stayed for a night, and sometimes he was busy with other work and just came during the day96. (Interview 71, Authors translation).

The BLO staff organised a group to cultivate ideas (pchour kumnet) and generate interest in community forestry in early 2003. This informal group was led by the village authorities. Later in 2003 a community forestry committee was elected comprising three men and two women. Long Chan was the head of that committee. From the time of this NGO-facilitated election the community forestry project was somewhat controversial and divisive. The tensions were not so much created by the community forestry but rather represented a re-working of existing conflicts. The influential Deputy Village chief was not present for the election and later claimed that it was not a proper election but just an appointment by BLO (Interview 101). He asserted, furthermore, that the project could not happen because it allowed the community forestry committee to arrest people, whereas he believed that the only villagers entitled to arrest people were village authorities such as himself (Interview 97). Meanwhile, Chan was resentful when the BLO staff presented the deputy village chief with a camera to assist with project implementation.
They gave it to (deputy village chief) Hun because he was a local authority and had the role of advisor to the community. So they gave it to him. But actually we wanted it to take pictures of


But compare Interview 54 in 2007 when Chan said that BLO staff never stayed in the village.


violations, but he did not give it. To tell the truth, we never got to touch it at all (Interview 71, Authors translation).

During the following two years, there was relatively little project activity in the village. In early 2006, however, funding was obtained from the international NGO Community Forestry International for the marking and mapping of the boundaries of the community forest. On 17th April 2006 Chan mapped the boundary using a handheld Global Positioning System device, but was not accompanied by either BLO staff or by officials from the Forestry Administration (Interview 71). The readings that Chan took were submitted to Community Forestry International in Phnom Penh who in turn produced computerised maps and sent them back to BLO and the village. These maps provided the inputs to subsequent discussions about the community forestry project in Bey. The community forestry project site marked by Chan was to be a shared responsibility of Bey and Pram villages. The site was six kilometres to the southeast of the village. It was 1145 hectares, and the boundary over 12 kilometres long. In the wet season it took over an hour to get to the community forestry site by motorcycle. In the dry season, just to walk to and from the site took two to three hours, and to patrol the boundary was a full days walk. Villagers own agricultural fields and logging activities were mainly to the east of the village, whilst their work as agricultural labourers took them mainly to the north and to the west of the village. In other words, the community forest was not on any of their regular routes and was not, therefore, an area with which villagers were familiar or which they could easily monitor. Asked about this location over two years later in 2008, Chan, the head of the Community Forestry committee in the village explained:
About this, I am not disappointed with myself because at the beginning I never had any training in this question. What I did was according to the ideas that came from the local authorities. They said it should be a good distance from the village so that it didn't overlap with villagers' land. We didn't want people's rice and chamcar to be in the forest. We wanted them separate. And I went along with that. And it is a good idea, but I did not think about the fact that an area a long way from the village would be difficult to defend, which means that we can lose that area now (Interview 71. Authors translation)97.

Our research in the village began in mid-July 2006. At that point, shortly after the mapping of the site, there was a sense of expectation around the project in the village. In August, Chan reported expecting a meeting on 2nd November to give official approval to the project (Interview 64). When we returned for a brief visit on 5th November 2006 it had not occurred, but villagers were then expecting a meeting the following day to approve the project (Interview 21), and were already talking about the details of patrolling routines that this would involve, with themselves and the neighbouring village sharing the duties, and everyone being required to carry out one patrol per week.

The Active Communities director provided the following written comment on this quote: This gets at a contentious issue. FA wants to say communities shouldnt get large areas because they cant manage them. Nowadays, since anything outside a CF is fair game for concessions, people try to get as large an area as possible. Not that the CF area in Bey was well selected, just that it would be unfortunate to conclude that the FA is right and CFs should be small and near the village.


In practice, these expectations were not to be realised. The November meetings never happened, and on 9th January 2007 there was a meeting attended by members of the Forestry Administration, representatives of Oxfam and of BLO. Chan was present. He reported that the Forestry Administration officials had recommended that only proposals for community forests not located within commercial concessions be submitted. They argued that it would be better this way, because there were too many complications involved in conducting negotiations with concessionaires, so it was better to begin where this is not an issue. According to Chan, Oxfam and the communities agreed to this advice because they did not want to risk everything getting stopped. After four years of prevarication, his frustration was apparent.
We have done everything according to the advice of Oxfam, and especially BLO. But when we submit it they always say that we have not got it right. Then it has been a year since we submitted our plan and it has been silent. Forestry Administration officials say it is maybe because provincial people dont really understand what community forestry is.

Whilst Chan was weighed down by the failure of the authorities to approve the community forestry project, he also found progress in the village difficult. In the year to September 2007, Chan reported only actually making two patrols of the boundary of the community forestry area (Interview 65, 67). While the official membership of the Community Forestry initiative was 316 adults from 144 households in the two villages, with 177 of those members coming from Bey, Chan said that only a few of the members in Krouch were active in the beginning (Interview 71), and that ultimately he was the only one who was absolutely committed. He related this to a lack of understanding on the part of other villagers regarding the benefits, as well as to a lack of time on his part to disseminate information and understanding to his fellow villagers (Interview 67). Chan interpreted the community forestry project as giving him a mandate not only over the community forestry site, but also with regard to the implementation of forestry law anywhere in the forest. During 2007 he reported two sawmills to the Forestry Administration, giving them the names of both operators, who were from Kenchor village on the Mekong. He also reported having confiscated two chainsaws from people he found using them in the forest and handed these into the Forestry Administration. However, as far as Chan could tell, his reports and actions never led to any action on the part of the Forestry Administration (Interview 67). In May 2008, Chan started to hear reports that the land at the community forestry site had been marked off into plots by the commune chief who was selling them at between 400 and 500 US dollars per plot. In an interview in October 2008 he said that he had heard nothing from either BLO or Oxfam for a long time, and that as far as he was concerned the project had now failed
From 2003 to now it has been five years. At the beginning, for me, I had hoped that we would succeed, because we told people about the benefits of natural resources. Especially that there are many things that are already growing and we do not need fertiliser for those. I am very sad. I have worked really hard. I have neglected all of my personal interests in order to stop violations. But the leaders, they dont want to have anything to do with this at all. I am very sad, but I still have the idea that if they can start this again I would try. We can call it failure. It is failure (Interview 71. Authors translation).

Later in 2008 there were two meetings held at the commune office, one an annual review of community forestry activities initiated by Oxfam and BLO, and the other a meeting hosted by the commune chief. In both cases Chan did not receive his invitation until after the meeting had 149

occurred. He was sure that this could not have been coincidence, and that they did not want him there. At that final meeting the commune chief had proposed that the community forestry project at Bey be cancelled and this was voted through (Interview 74). Chan questioned whether the commune chief had the right to take such a decision, but given the lack of support he had been able to muster in the community and the lack of interest from the NGOs he was not planning to dispute it. He retained the hope that the NGOs or the authorities might take up their interest again, but for the time being he regarded the project as finished. 5.3.3 Community Forestry in Bey: Meanings and Interpretation As may be apparent from the above narrative, the story of community forestry in Bey was, at village level, largely the story of one mans struggle. For most villagers Community Forest does not mean an area of forest land protected by the community. Rather, the words are a synonym for Chan. Whenever we asked the question Where is the community forest? the first response was inevitably to be told where Chan was that day or to be told where his house was. To some degree this was complemented by Chans own self-identification98: the first time I met him he introduced himself with words to the effect of Who are you? I am community here. I need to know everyone who comes and goes. In early visits there was some enthusiasm expressed by other villagers for community forestry, partly reflecting anger at the appropriation of timber and land by outsiders, and sadness at the disappearance of the forest. In 2006 the head of one of our case study households, who also sat in the first Community Forestry committee (2003-7) told us that the community forestry was very important and that the forests must be protected otherwise there would be no forest left for her children and grandchildren. In this respect she mentioned the way that people were just marking off trees and land and selling them. However, when asked how her family and other families in the village would be able to make a living if they were not able to cut wood, her response was that it would be impossible (Interview 24). Hers was one of our case study households and our knowledge of the household economy confirmed this dependence: her son-in-law worked as both a chainsaw operator and a transporter of wood, and it was his incomes from this that were the major source of incomes for the household. They did have agricultural crops, but, at the time of that interview their rice crop had been destroyed by excessive rains, whilst two years later much of their chamcar crop had been stolen whilst she took care of her daughter around the time of the birth of her second grandchild. To the extent that other people could say any more about community forestry the information tended to be sketchy. In early 2008 the assistant village chief said that there were maybe four to ten people in it, but that she did not know anything about it (Interview 81). An older man thought there were maybe 10 members (Interview 109). One villager had never heard of it at all, though her neighbour came along and explained by saying that she had heard of it, but that it was something for men that was talked about at meetings and she knew no more than that (Interview 120). People did seem to know that it had not really worked: Everyone cuts there now (Interview 126) and Community forestry has gone quiet. We havent heard anything for months (Interview 140).

To put this in some context, it should also be noted that he never again spoke with such brazen self-importance, and that alcohol had clearly loosened his tongue prior to this unexpected encounter (Interview 63).


Given that during the six years from early 2003 (when community forestry activities were introduced to Bey) to early 2009 (when our research ended), that there was almost no activity by any villager apart from Chan, it is unsurprising that the story of community forestry in the village is so much one about him, and that he is almost its only narrator. He is also the one person in the village whose livelihood has been significantly influenced by community forestry. Not because of the community forest itself (which even he rarely visited), but because of compensation he received for attendance of training courses and meetings over the years. While not lucrative, it had been the main source of reported income for his household (himself, his wife and seven children) during the first half of the research period. While there was unanimity about the strength of Chans character and commitment, his two main enemies/rivals in the village, the deputy village chief and the head teacher, both alleged that Chan became corrupt and started to sell off the community forest land (Interviews 101, 158). We could not get these allegations corroborated by anybody else, but as we shall see, for Chan personally, becoming involved in the community forestry activities also meant becoming involved in personal conflicts. During the research, Chan referred to his right to not discuss his personal political affiliations when I raised these with them (Interview 71). Having a reputation as being an opposition party activist can put somebody in a position of risk, especially if they are outspoken. It seemed to me from my very first meeting with him in the village that Chans involvement in community forestry was giving him the platform and the confidence to be outspokenly critical of the authorities. If any of the professional people I encountered involved in community forestry, either with donors or NGOs, had been killed I would have been extremely surprised. Whereas I saw it as quite possible that Chan might meet precisely such an end99. As the community forestry initiative stagnated, Chan moved on. For a time he got work with a Cambodian NGO called PADEK who were establishing savings groups in the district. At the time of our final visit he had stopped that as he found that the allowance and the petrol money provided by the NGO barely covered his costs. He had been sick for a month so he had not been active with any work when we last met him (Interview 74). It seemed that he was recuperating and would be moving on to new challenges, with the community forestry being something which had never really taken off and had died a death. On the other hand, as we will see, the community forestry project in Bey and other villages like it have an aid chain behind them populated by organisations and individuals whose endeavours depend on community forestry being a credible and worthwhile enterprise. Chans energy and engagement has effectively constituted a one-man operation sufficient to maintain the impression of community forestry in Bey these past years, and he may yet be called to service again. The remainder of this chapter reviews the experiences of some of the other agencies involved in supporting community forestry in Bey.


Neither were such fears unrealistic. The mid-term evaluation of the Promoting Community Forest in Cambodia project which provided financial and technical support the community forestry in Bey and 132 other Cambodian villages from May 2005 gave prominence to an active community forestry leader who had been shot dead a few days after collecting signatures from other villages for a petition to protest against a local land grab (O'Leary, 2007).


5.3.4 Community Forestry Actors from Beyond the Village The Cambodian NGO Based in the Provincial Town100

The direct supporter of community forestry in Bey was the Cambodian non-governmental organization Better Lives Organisation (BLO). BLO was established in 1997 and recognized as a national NGO by the Ministry of Interior in 1998. During the early years of its existence it received funding from the international NGO Australian Catholic Relief. BLO had originally been established by former staff members of Australian Catholic Relief, when the latter organization switched from being an implementing agency to a funding partner for local NGOs. Their original community development activities had been health and agriculture related and included the promotion of self-help groups. It first extended these activities to Bey village in 2002. Central to BLOs identity as an NGO is the idea that its staff work closely with communities. In October 2008 we witnessed part of a training programme where the director talked with young field workers about the importance of spending time in communities, of listening to people and of dressing and acting in an appropriate manner when out in the villages. As we have seen, however, the presence of BLO in Bey, even at its most intense, had never been more than one visit every one or two months, possibly including some overnight stays. During the research period our sixmonthly visits made us a significantly more frequent visitor than the NGO, notwithstanding its good intentions to be close to the people and to have grassroots involvement. In September 2007 the director explained that BLO had the aim of ensuring that every village received at least one visit every month, but that this was difficult to achieve because BLO had only two community forestry staff members who were responsible for two districts, supporting a total of 49 villages, formed into 28 different community forests in 9 different communes. Even if the two workers had worked separately, and had spent every day doing field work (neither of which was the case) they would not have been able to spend a day in every village each month. In order to alleviate the staffing pressure BLO divided the communes into indirect communes and deep engagement (see chomroe) communes. Damrei Pong was a deep engagement commune. The director intended to look for ways to provide more resources so that there could be better support for the communities but these never came. In fact, BLO staff said that they had been unable to visit the village at all for 4-5 months during 2008 as a result of a funding delay from Oxfam (Interview 204). Somewhat in contrast with our experiences in Bey, the BLO director suggested that community forestry had been a powerful movement for villagers to protect their livelihoods during the early years of its implementation. He gave as an example of this the fact that in the two communes where BLO worked in Chhlong district (namely Damrei Pong where Bey is located, and neighbouring Kampong Damrei), that the community forestry leaders had confiscated between twenty and thirty chainsaws in the year to September 2007.


Where other citations are not provided, this section is based on Interview 203 with the director of BLO and the field worker Kru Bong Rien on 21st September 2007.


While the BLO saw the example of confiscation of chainsaws as an example of progress, it could also be seen as instructive in other ways. Echoing complaints that we had heard from Chan in the village, the Better Lives Organisation (BLO) director explained that one of the problems was that the authorities only ever confiscated chainsaws from normal villagers but that military and police who owned chainsaws never had them confiscated. When he had made this point to the authorities they responded by saying that if BLO made lists of everyone including police and military who had chainsaws, that they would follow up, and that they would confiscate from the police and the military first. BLO complied with this suggestion and collected reports from community forestry committees in the villages where they worked of all holders of chainsaws. In other words, it seemed that rather than being an agent to assist or empower communities, that the NGO was effectively providing surveillance of the local community for the forestry authorities101. This small example encapsulated some of the tensions implicit in a project such as community forestry being regulated by the State, in a situation where so many of the State actors were involved in predatory economic relations with the poor people living in communities. The Active Communities (AC) director, who had acted as an advisor to BLO, explained that he had encouraged the confiscating of chainsaws by communities as an advocacy ploy. If the community forestry groups confiscated chainsaws this would be a way of demonstrating that they were capable forest managers, and this could be contrasted with the inactivity of the Forest Administration. As we saw, however, the tendency for BLO to seek accommodation and partnership with the Forestry Administration meant that this (potentially antagonistic) approach was discarded in favour of an alternative where BLO effectively placed itself (and by implication, the communities it represented) in a managerial hierarchy under the forest authorities in a relationship that was quite different to that which AC had intended. So like Craigs (1997) antibiotic pills, the confiscation of chainsaws travelled to the intended location, but like the instructions for the antibiotics, the advocacy strategy was discarded and replaced by other local ideas and concerns regarding how such a device might be most effective. The issue of BLOs presence in the village (or lack of it) and its activities are all in the context of the organisation having a relevant strategy. As we have seen, villagers in Bey, far from being dependent on preserving forest had, throughout the research period and for some years before that, been dependent on incomes from cutting forest, and latterly from converting forest land to agricultural cropping. The BLO director accepted our analysis of livelihoods in Bey, and asked to compare it with the other 48 villages where BLO was providing support for community forestry, he estimated that 60-70% were characterised by situations comparable to Bey. In the other 3040%, however, NTFPs were more prominent in village livelihoods. He gave as an example of this a village which BLO had treated as a model village since 2005, namely Veal Konseing in neighbouring Kampong Damrei commune. There he said that resin tapping was a key source of revenues and villager-logging was not a significant issue. He said that because the community forest area was one where the villagers tapped resin every day in large numbers that they were able to monitor their community forest without excessive extra effort and had a strong incentive to do so. This picture, however, was counterbalanced by the Active Communities (AC) director

There was no reason to expect the FA to honour their promise to do this, and we have already seen the example of the Prime Minister instructing the FA to halt forest encroachment by rich and powerful people, and them then using this edict against poor people on behalf of company interests.


who was familiar with both the villages in question, and with community forestry projects throughout Cambodia, and said that while Veal Konseing was initially more receptive to forest protection activities, that a lot of villagers there were also involved in logging (Interview 254). The above account of BLOs role suggests a rather dismal experience. The apparent community forestry in Bey was in reality one person fighting a lonely and losing battle. Community forestry was not attuned to local circumstances and even had the area of forest been protected it would have been completely marginal to the issues that will actually determine villagers futures. To the extent that the village was a community, it consisted of three groups with different backgrounds all competing to make the most of a highly insecure situation. Within this there were some serious conflicts which would potentially shape the future livelihoods of the people living in the village and future generations. There was, in other words, plenty of work for anyone committed to community organisation. The presence of BLO clearly did not represent such a commitment. It effectively worked through just one person in the village (one who was party to and indeed vulnerable to intra-village conflicts) and was simply letting social and economic relations in the village take their own course. Given the overall personnel resources of BLO devoted to community forestry during the project period (2 people for 49 villages) and the directors verdict that local economies in 60-70% of those villages were similar to Bey it is difficult not to conclude that the organisations impacts overall in its work with community forestry must have been similarly dismal.
Table 5-9: Better Lives Organisations Community Forestry Funding 2004-8

Years Amount (USD) 20045 Just under 10 000 2003 2004 27 000 20 000


Reason for funding.

Community Forestry To support work in 28 villages in 2 communes International (CFI)

Canada Fund Oxfam via CFI and Funds released against expenditure on a 3-month the Power to rolling basis so he is not sure exactly how much Communities (AC) was given. European Union via As part of the EU Protecting Tropical Forests Oxfam GB project. For work in 9 communes. European Union via As part of the EU Protecting Tropical Forests Oxfam GB project. For work in 9 communes.

20056 20068 Total

34 000

70 000

161 000

Source: BLO Directors Estimates (Interview 203)


However, the general point made by Blaikie (2006) that CBNRM tends to be more successful in reproducing itself than it does in achieving its stated objectives seemed to apply to BLO. According to the BLO director, the organisation had received in the region of 161 000 US dollars for community forestry work in up to 49 villages work during the five years 2004-8 (see Table 5-9). s a result of the credibility that BLO built up in its work supporting community forestry in those villages during this period, it had also received further funding in order to expand the scope of its work, being allocated a further 80,000 USD being due from the East West Management Institute to support work with the Prey Long protected forest in the west of the province, and a 27 000 USD from Canada Fund to support work with ethnic minority community forestry groups in Kracheh102. The Cambodian NGO/donor: Footloose and Flexible

One of the prime movers behind the community forestry initiatives in Kracheh and indeed behind the community forestry movement in Cambodia in general was Active Communities (AC), a small non-government organization (NGO) focusing on empowerment and community organization103. Being funded by private donations from the United States, the organization was somewhat more flexible and less burdened by the nature of the partnerships with donors than either BLO or the other organizations involved in supporting community forestry in Bey. AC had become interested in forest action as a response to the impacts on rural livelihoods of the activities of companies holding logging concessions. It saw a particular opportunity in documenting the livelihoods of resin tapping households in Cambodian forests, and using these as the basis for advocacy work which would challenge the activities of companies which routinely (and illegally) cut resin trees in their concession areas. As a result, AC sent field workers to forested areas throughout Cambodia in order to identify communities that were highly dependent on resin tapping in order to support them in protecting their livelihoods. In 2002 the AC director had visited Damrei Pong commune, where Bey is located, and may even have visited Bey. He judged that it was not a promising area in which to pursue community forestry because the resin trees in the area had already been logged and as a result the villagers were now more interested in cutting down trees than in preventing the cutting of trees. In the course of their investigations, AC had, through its field workers, also come into contact with BLO and had been particularly impressed with the engagement and abilities of Samnang, who was the BLO director during the research period, but had at that time been a field worker. As a result, AC supported BLO to become more involved in community organization around forestry issues in areas where resin tapping was still an important part of peoples livelihoods.


AC director (and BLO board member) comments: Probably no one was ever impressed with BLOs work in Chhlong, and it has been their work in Sambor and other areas that has allowed them to get funding. Plus the fact that there arent any other decent NGOs in Kratie doing any better on land and livelihoods rights.

This section is informed principally by interviews 253 and 254 with the AC director in January and October 2008 respectively. Interview 254 was recorded digitally.


There were a number of ironies and contradictions involved in the AC support to BLO and the way in which events played out. One was that the fact that Samnang became the director of BLO. The BLO Board of Directors104, who did not have the same confidence in other staff members at that time, sought to ensure that he remained engaged in the field, and supported the appointment of an older, more administratively oriented staff member as director. This did not, however, work out, so that the original reason for AC confidence in BLO as a community organisation, namely Samnangs talent and commitment as a field worker, was lost quite early. Another irony was that as BLO got more funds they expanded to include Damrei Pong in their target areas despite the original AC judgement that the area was not promising. The largest irony, however, was that AC assisted BLO and several other organizations to work with Oxfam GB and secure EU funding for a major project which came to be called Promoting Community Forestry in Cambodia. At around the time that funding was successfully secured, though, the AC director came to the conclusion that community forestry was not an effective tool for promoting community interests. This conclusion related to the way in which community forestry had become an officially sanctioned movement, with government approval and legal recognition becoming the key milestones for everyone involved in community forestry105. For the AC director, this orientation towards official recognition meant that instead of responding to community priorities and community needs, that community forestry actors were instead responding to Forestry Administration priorities and waiting for their approval (FA):
Then the FA started to get involved and to say that CF was a good thing. Then these maps started to come out which showed CF areas and concession areas. These were official maps from the FA and everything that wasnt CF was the company. Since that time I have been saying stop doing community forestry. There came a point when I thought that community forestry was not the thing to do. So I said to Samnang that CF is not good, and he listened and said OK but continued to do it. I had been involved in designing the project106 in late 2004 but by the time the project had come on line in mid 2005 I had concluded that CF was not the thing to do. I switched from thinking that CF was a strategy for communities to get forests from the companies to thinking it was a government strategy to get forests for the companies (Interview 254).

The more you do community forestry the more it is implicitly recognising it is a state forest. I think CBNRM has got to start with the idea of intrinsic rights and that this is your forest, and CF starts with the opposite, this is not yours youve got to ask us for it (Interview 254).


The BLO Board included the director of AC


The AC critique was to some extent confirmed by an interview with a forestry academic working with one of the donor agencies in Phnom Penh notwithstanding the fact that he saw developments in a more positive light. When asked if there was any evidence that community forestry had succeeded in either its goals of improving livelihoods or of protecting forests, he replied not. On the other hand, he compared it to community fisheries and other CBNRM initiatives and said that it was relatively successful in having achieved legal recognition, with a law having passed and a sub-decree and guidelines to enable the implementation of the law, and with a number of the community forestry sites well on the way towards being formally recognized by the government (Interview 174).

The reference here is to the EU/Oxfam GB Protecting Tropical Forests project.


This dissonance between the apparent objectives of community forestry and what it actually achieves in terms of normalisation, pacification and extension of government reach, is a theme which calls to mind the conclusions of Ferguson (1994) and Foucault (1979) mentioned in the introduction of this thesis and to which we will return at the conclusion107. As the relatively nimble AC turned its attention away from providing formal support for community forestry, other organisations, with a far greater weight of bureaucratic relations to bear and much more limited ability to change course arrived on the scene. These were Oxfam GB with its head office in Oxford and the European Commission with its headquarters in Brussels and regional office in Bangkok. The EU became the key funding source for BLO and the community forestry in Bey during the research period by means of the 5-year (2005-10) European Union project Promoting Community Forestry in Cambodia implemented by Oxfam GB. The International NGO Sub-contracting and Co-financing 2005-9

Oxfam GB had been present in Cambodia throughout the 1980s and, through the publication of the book Punishing the Poor (Mysliwiec, 1988a), had been instrumental in highlighting the poverty impacts of the international isolation of Cambodia. Through the 1980s then, Oxfam had close relations with the government and carried out project activities that might normally be associated with major bilateral donors, such as the improvement of clean water infrastructure in the capital. In the early 1990s Oxfam moved to a more traditional NGO role, which at first included direct implementation of its own projects, but rapidly moved to a role as an organisation which on the one hand supported the development activities of Cambodian NGOs (dubbed in the recent lingua franca of the development industry partners) and on the other hand engaged in policy advocacy activities. In May 2005 the 5-year European Union project Promoting Community Forestry in Cambodia was initiated, with Oxfam GB as the executing agency providing support to seven Cambodian local NGOs involved in providing direct support to community forestry projects (EC, 2005). This support was complemented by the international NGO, Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) which provided volunteers mainly to support the identification and marketing of commercial non-timber forest products from the community forestry sites. The project budget was 1,623,529 Euros, cofinanced by the European Union (77%), Oxfam GB (20%) and VSO (3%) (Interview 138; Oxfam GB, 2005). During the research period and the years preceding it, there was continuity in the main actors involved in community forestry in BLO (where both the field worker-teacher and the director were constant), and AC (whose director likewise remained in place). The same continuity of personnel did not obtain further back in the chain. During the course of the field research (between July 2006 and March 2009) there was an almost complete turnover of relevant staff at Oxfam GB, as well as an in-country reorganisation. The country director changed, and so did the programme manager and the programme officer with overall responsibility for the European Union community forestry programme. Meanwhile, responsibility for providing support to BLO

Precisely these same Foucauldian/anti-politics dynamics have been discussed in relation to NGO interventions in similar contexts by Bryant (2002)


was decentralised from the Phnom Penh office to a new provincial office which opened in May 2007 with new programme officers and assistants. In early January 2009 a new programme officer who would be responsible for providing support to BLO was employed. As researchers, then, we were no longer tracing the experiences and learning of individuals following a process (as we had been in the village and with the smaller organisations), but instead were meeting a series of people who were each beginning a process of getting to know the people above and below them in their own organisations hierarchy, as well as the organisations and communities that they were to be working with. In the absence of continuity of personnel, and especially of leadership, the project document was of necessity of central importance. Of interest for this thesis, and especially in the light of our research in Bey, is the central assumption of the EU/Oxfam project document that community forestry constitutes a win-win solution that is both good for the people and good for the forests. It allows for no possibility that what is best for local peoples livelihoods and what is best for sustainable forest management might in some circumstances be in conflict with each other. Because there is no acknowledgement of this possible conflict of interests, there is no need to identify a priority. Accordingly the project documentation simply alternates between them. The EU implicitly prioritises forests locating the project within a Program on Tropical Forests and other Forests in Developing Countries. The project summary on the other hand gives more weight to the target group of poor forest-dependent men and women and communities, including indigenous groups, who are described in the following somewhat caricatured terms:
Forest-dependent people in Cambodia are among the poorest of all sections of society in one of the worlds poorest countries. Although they are resilient and resourceful, their capacity to forge their own livelihoods has been eroded by the insidious loss of control they once had over resources traditionally managed by them. This project will support the processes of knowledgeand skill-gaining, and empowerment that are needed to promote management of forested areas by communities under a newly-enacted framework of law (Oxfam GB, 2005, p. 4)

The project objective by contrast switches primacy back to the forests:

The overall project objective is Sustainable management of forests in Cambodia, based on full community participation (Oxfam GB, 2005, p. 4)

But this switches back to an apparent people-first orientation under the specific objective:
The specific objective is Improved livelihoods for forest-dependent women and men based on sustainable and productive use of forest resources (Oxfam GB, 2005, p. 4)

The project approach to both forests and people is thus fundamentally instrumental. The forests are not just a natural or social or cultural resource in their own right, but must also provide sustainable livelihoods for people living in them. Meanwhile, the people are not just people who are to realise goals in their own terms, but they are framed as forest-dependent people who will sustainably manage the forests. Not only are the beneficiaries framed up as locked in a mutually beneficial relationship with forests, but their livelihoods are also framed as being of a particular type:
Many of the people targeted by this project live within forestry concessions. All depend on forest products. Some depend on forest products as their main livelihood option; for many the resources are second in importance only to farming. The most important product is liquid resin, which


community members tap from huge resin trees. Other important products include hard resin (dammar), wild fruits, mushrooms, palm leaves, honey, vines, rattan, and bamboo. Most of these products are collected in a way that is sustainable and does not damage the forest. Forests are also important to the local culture and as habitat for wildlife (Oxfam GB, 2005, pp. 6-7).

People are thus not only forest-dependent, but their livelihoods are underpinned by activities which do not harm the forests. Such a framing of the people clearly fits well with the problem formulated above, namely the insidious loss of control they once had over resources traditionally managed by them. However, as we have clearly seen, this framing excludes the villagers of Bey, not to mention the 30-35 more villages (out of 49) where BLO worked where the resources traditionally managed in the form of resin trees had long since been harvested, leaving villagers with short-term livelihoods based on logging and longer-term possibilities dependent on the agricultural opportunities in a post-deforestation landscape. As such, this misrepresentation of forest communities as overwhelmingly NTFP-dependent provided no guidance to development workers further down the chain in terms of how to react when meeting forest-dwelling communities whose livelihoods were not, and could not be, be based on NTFPs.108 The corrosive effects of this misrepresentation were apparent in the interview responses. When Oxfam programme officers were presented with the situation in Bey and asked what they thought their response should be in a situation where villagers livelihoods would not be improved by community forestry their responses were somewhat similar. One said that he did not know what the alternative would be and he would have to discuss with other members of the team, but on further reflection said that many villagers were short-sighted and that If we tell them how valuable forest is, they understand and want to protect the forest (Interview 185). Likewise, the programme officer newly responsible for cooperation with BLO who said that if people reported a lack of potential for NTFPs from the forest that Oxfam people might be able to look more carefully and find that actually there was potential (Interview 186). In other words, if the realities of the people did not fit with the reality of the project document, then the response of the development workers was that the peoples realities must be altered. It is perhaps not irrelevant to point out that the new programme officer had been working since the beginning of January 2009 and she was not due to make her first visit to a community forestry village until some time in March. So even relatively low in the aid chain, at a decentralised provincial office, administrative and bureaucratic workloads seemed to take priority. Interviews with the first Programme Officer to have responsibility for the EU project, and with other Oxfam staff who had been present during the debrief of the first EU monitoring mission indicated that much of the Oxfam workload for supporting community forestry actually involved managing the administrative and financial reporting of the local partners (Interviews 181, 184). The Donor: Control Orientation Revisited

The European Union staff member in Phnom Penh responsible for the Promoting Community Forestry project stressed that he was not a technical officer and that the EU was not a technical agency, so that they relied on periodic monitoring visits in order to get technical inputs.


Comment from AC director: It might be interesting to look at how this misrepresentation came about since I was part of that. We were looking for resin tapping, and found it and learned about it. We didnt ever try to learn about the situation in communities.


First EU monitoring mission occurred in 2008 and looked at progress in relation to three sets of outputs: training; legal approval; livelihood improvement. It reported that there had been abundant training, that legal recognition had not been achieved to the degree expected and that targets should be revised, and that there had been no livelihood outputs. It also found that much of the reporting required had not been carried out, and that there was a lack of clarity regarding the division of responsibilities between Oxfam and the European Union for uploading of reports (Interview 184). Both of the Oxfam programme managers who successively had responsibility for the management of the EU co-financed programme spoke of the difficulties in cooperating with the European Union, and specifically of the fact that authority was not delegated to Phnom Penh, but that almost all decisions had to be referred back to Bangkok or even Brussels (Interviews 181, 182). Printed on the inside cover of the successful application for EU funding for the Promoting Community Forestry in Cambodia project is a message from the EU to potential applicants
Omissions cannot be rectified; if any information or document is missing, your application will be rejected (Oxfam GB, 2005, p. 2).

This seemed to provide a vivid illustration of just how little flexibility the European Union allowed itself for responding to situations which differed from those set out in the project document109. The aid chain may be seen as a hierarchical arrangement with the donor at the top exercising control and authority via the conditional release of funds. The control from the top may be more or less personalised. In other words, the project document may be used to adjudicate each decision. Alternatively a degree of personal discretion may be allowed to enable response to unexpected factors. It is the latter which was called for by Porter et al. (1991) in their critique of control orientation of project management in 1970s and 1980s development projects. In this case it appeared that a control orientation was, of necessity, the default setting. Having neither technical expertise, nor an in-depth knowledge of conditions on the ground, the EU donor was only in a position to process financial reports and output reports that corresponded to the assumptions and logic of the project document. We did not find any indications that either Oxfam or BLO had registered the dissonance between the livelihoods and relationships depicted in the project document and those found on the ground, much less sought to respond to them. However, it is worth noting that even if they had seen a problem and attempted to take initiative that the EU office in Phnom Penh would, for organisational reasons, have had the greatest difficulty in responding to requests to amend the approaches in the project document. This was, in other words a vivid illustration of the sort of dynamic pointed out in our brief sampling of institutional economics perspectives in chapter 2. With both supply and demand originating in the donor countries, incentive structures tend to be oriented in that direction, exacerbating the inherent problem of feedback loops between beneficiaries in places like Bey and the citizens of EU countries who ultimately demand and pay for the interventions.


The AC director recalled that the first Oxfam staff member responsible for the project always said We have to do exactly what is in the project document. The EU wont let us change. The EU is notorious this way.


Encountering the Concessionaire Or Not

Whilst the aid chain for the community forestry initiative in Bey stretches back from the village to Brussels via the BLO office in Kracheh provincial town, the Oxfam office in Kracheh, the Oxfam office in Phnom Penh, the EU office in Phnom Penh and the EU office in Bangkok, a key actor determining whether or not a community forestry project in Bey is feasible or not is the Casotim company. Without company agreement, a community forestry project would not be implementable. In 2008, Oxfam staff supported a Cambodian partner NGO in Stung Treng province to negotiate an agreement with a concessionaire to allow 4000 hectares within his companys concession to be allocated as a community forest. The Oxfam programme officer reporting this saw it as an appropriate way for Oxfam to engage (Interview 184). This did not, however, reflect the general experience presented by Oxfam staff, who depicted a set of relationships which placed themselves, and indeed the communities, at several steps removed from the companies in general, and Casotim in particular. According to one of the Kracheh programme officers We dont have any contact with the company because this is the responsibility of the Forestry Administration (Interview 185), adding that the relationship between the Forestry Administration and the NGOs was the responsibility of the RECOFTC110 office established within the provincial Forestry Administration office. This sense that negotiating with the concessionaire was someone elses responsibility was familiar from other interviews. Chan in the village had never attempted to contact Casotim because he said that was BLOs responsibility (Interview 71). BLO meanwhile explained that they had had limited contact with Casotim because that was a Forestry Administration responsibility (Interview 203). Somehow, then, the community deferred to the local NGO, the local NGO deferred to the international NGO, RECOFTC, situated in the Forestry Administration office, RECOFTC deferred to the Forestry Administration. In this constellation there was no clear role for Oxfam to engage directly, although programme officers regarded themselves as supporting and cooperating with BLO and RECOFT (Interview 185). One of the Oxfam programme managers expressed some frustration that in some cases the Forestry Administration seemed to be aligned with the concessionaires and to be trying to keep the community forestry actors at a distance (Interview 181). In 2007 there had been some dialogue with Casotim. Meetings had been arranged and documents submitted in May 2007. According to the BLO director there was a 90% chance that Casotim would approve the community forestry sites approved in the concession area. Time passed, however, and no reply was forthcoming. Without the network of relations which encumbered the actors in the aid chain I could potentially approach Casotim directly for interviews. The Casotim companys head office in Phnom Penh was Monivong #100. This placed it in a very prominent and affluent area, south of the Wat Phnom monument that gives the capital its name and north of the Independence monument. Located opposite the office of the World Bank, the

Regional Community Forestry Training Center for Asian and the Pacific (RECOFTC) is an international NGO which received a contract to support the legalization of community forestry. RECOFTC have an office in Phnom Penh in the national Forestry Administration, and during the course of the research they established their Kracheh provincial office (Interview 131).


Casotim office was also the former Czechoslovakian embassy. Whenever I went there it appeared deserted and I was not able to contact anyone. I managed to make one mobile phone call to a Casotim employee who gave me an email address, but I never received a reply to the mails. In this sense, then the company was not readily accessible. Having failed to either engage substantially with Casotim nationally, or to gain a proper introduction at district, however, I finally decided to take a chance on meeting the Casotim representative at home. It is worth noting that it was difficult to find a motorcycle taxi who would take me to his house. The first ones I approached were afraid of the reaction from his security guards if they took me there. An experienced Cambodian researcher in Phnom Penh also expressed concern for my safety if my research started to incorporate the business interests of concessionaires and timber traders. For me, of course, there was no particular danger associated with such an interview. However, it is important to note that for people living and working locally there would have been a more tangible calculation of risk when attempting any form of engagement with a forest concession company. Having approached him in the street between his home and the Casotim compound and secured an interview I asked him whether Casotim would be agreeing to the community forestry in Bey. His answer was a flat no. Casotim would not permit the establishment of a community forestry site in the area of the village, and did not recognize the one that had been proposed (Interview 218). There was therefore a very stark contrast in the research results between that which was reported by various NGO and FA interviewees, namely that Casotim were very difficult to contact, that the answer was uncertain, but that it would probably be yes, and the findings when the Casotim representative was interviewed, namely that he was rather easy to access, that the answer was not at all uncertain, and that it was no. There was likewise a stark contrast between the way that the community forestry actors and Casotim represented the state of communication: the NGOs waiting for a reply whilst the Casotim representative said that it had already been given. The practical consequence of this difference was that it remained possible to rationalise continued support for community forestry activities in Bey and other villages in the company concession area.


Conclusions and Implications

5.4.1 Bey and Cambodian Community Forestry During the research, two lines of argument were identifiable amongst community forestry practitioners. One might be said to come from an activist faction who believed that rights to forest should be grounded in established use and practice, and that communities should assert these rights with the support of NGOs and without waiting to be guided by government. To some extent these practitioners saw community forestry as a means of resistance, which in the short term might slow or disrupt the destruction of forests by predatory non-local interests, and in the longer term might build a sense of entitlement and increase peoples capacity more generally to organize resistance against powerful outsiders. A more technically oriented diplomatic faction were looking at partnerships with government, and seeking to safeguard community forestry by recruiting the government as the ultimate supporter and regulator of community forestry. Their assumption tended to be that there was little hope for them to influence the management of high value forests in Cambodia, that the decline of the forest resource would continue, but that 162

community forestry presented an opportunity to create some enclaves of exception where the mobilisation of local resources and incentives could create the long-term potential for pockets of community managed forest on currently degraded forest land. In Bey, community forestry had been introduced by followers of the activist approach, but by the time our research commenced, the project had been incorporated into the EU project managed by Oxfam, and a diplomatic approach characterised the support offered. While Bey is far from being a flagship case for either approach it may be noted that an activist rejected it as a community forestry site from the start, whilst diplomats then nurtured it, and notwithstanding the information from the Casotim representative and Chan suggesting that the project had neither a present nor a future, it remained on the list of projects that was being prepared for approval by the community forestry section of the Forestry Administration in Phnom Penh. In some respects, Bey would seem to be a representative case, but in other respects it seems likely to prove less representative. As we saw in chapter 4, the location of the community forestry site in low value, degraded forest which cannot currently contribute greatly to livelihoods is likely to be rather typical. The observation from the BLO director that most of the villages which BLO support are similar in terms of villagers relying on logging more than NTFPs also suggests that Bey is not untypical in that respect, although it should be noted that he thought there were a large minority of villages which were more NTFP oriented in their use of forest. That there was so very little meaningful support for community forestry in the village may well be an exception. Interviews with the AC director, the experiences of community forestry documented elsewhere in Cambodia (Bradley, 2009), and the feedback I received when I presented to a gathering of community forestry activists and researchers in Phnom Penh in March 2009 suggested that even in the absence of a strong short term livelihood motivation, communities do sometimes mobilise around forest protection and management. Oxfam programme officers had likewise been able to give examples which sounded far more relevant and successful than that in Bey, although the sense was that these were somewhat exceptional. The new programme manager had seen a project in Kampong Thom province where there was regular patrolling, but this was the only such example he had seen (Interview 182), and one of the new programme officers had been in a village where villagers could collect 30-45 litres of resin per day, worth 6-9 USD, but again that there were very few villages where such opportunities existed (Interview 185). Overall, the new project manager believed that the benefits of community forestry would not come for the current generation, but that villagers expected community forestry to benefit their children (Interview 184). However, the fact that a community forestry project could be sustained as a live project for six years when only one person in the community was engaged does raise the question as to whether some of the other 300 community forestry initiatives in Cambodia are of a similar nature. Notwithstanding the apparent cancellation of the project by the commune chief111, the project remained on the list of those being forwarded for approval at national level (Interview 172) indicating the potential for local flimsiness to be counterpointed by national level durability.


Who, we must recall, was facing a court case where he would be accused of selling this land, so seemed to have a personal stake in the cancellation of the project.


A final reflection relates back to the literature. As we saw, there is little debate about the validity of assertions that common property regimes and community based natural resource management arrangements are feasible in certain circumstances. The key, according to the literature, is to identify where those circumstances might exist, and how they might be nurtured. Major themes in development literature suggest that close attention to livelihoods is now a cornerstone of development practice (Scoones, 1998). Despite this, what we found was a development organisation reproducing precisely the same forest caricatures criticised by Walker (2004) and Murray Li (2002) elsewhere in the region, and which, echoing the 1990s case studies (Ferguson, 1994; T. Mitchell, 1995; Porter et al., 1991) in the introduction involved a complete and fundamental misrepresentation of the livelihoods of the people. It seemed that the incentives to produce the sort of policy simplifications which Ostrom found so abhorrent were simply too great. These were exacerbated in a system whereby a lack of personal accountability (with staff turnover in the EU and Oxfam meaning that nobody in place at the beginning of the project was left at the end) was replaced with an attempt to make all accountable to the very project document that exemplified and embodied the misrepresentations. Mosses more cynical suggestion that policy is not implemented but reproduced was much in evidence, however, his more optimistic corollary, that new spaces for unexpected effects and local appropriations would be opened up was absent. Rather, there was the frustration and disappointment felt by Chan in the village, and the futile assertions of young field workers that their response to the mismatch between the livelihoods of the villagers and the livelihoods inscribed in the project document would be to educate the villagers about valuing their environment. 5.4.2 Bey and Geographies of Evasiveness In chapter 4 we saw how there is a tendency for solutions in the form of tenure rights interventions to avoid problems such as tenure insecurity. The broad argument was that the political economy of Cambodia ensures that interventions that might challenge the status quo are carefully diverted and/or diluted. Diverted such that they only travel to places without ready opportunities for elites to extract significant rents, and diluted meaning that if they are allowed to travel to places where elite rent-seeking takes place, that they will travel in diluted form, free of any potentially transformative content. In Bey, then, we focused on a case in the forests. These being a renowned provider of opportunity for elite moneymaking interests, the national case suggested that we would find diversion and dilution here in order to ensure that those interests were not opposed. That proved to be the case. Community forestry had been stripped of its potentially radical content. This was the frustration of the AC director who found that government regulation of community forestry as well as enabling the state to replace the communities as the prime movers, undermined the possibilities of villagers opposing elite interests. Integral to this was the way in which the community forestry sites functioned as spatial containers. Effectively, by focusing on community forests within boundaries, the authorities were able to delegitimize community concerns over the rest of the forest. Rather than working towards a conceptualisation of forest resources as public resources for everyones good, community forestry created a sense that peoples rights over forest were only exercised within the boundaries of the community forest, and that the Forestry Administration as the agent of the state had all the rights over the remaining forest. 164

A second, more everyday issue, was that the detailed work required to fulfil the community forestry criteria effectively absorbed the energies of those people who were potentially political active and might have galvanised opposition to elite economic interests in forest areas. At meetings, Chan did not spend his time discussing how the community could gain control of sufficient forest and land to make a substantial and sustainable contribution to their livelihoods. Rather, he and the NGO staff spent their time learning to fulfil steps one, two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight in the community forestry guidelines. The mid-term evaluation of the Promoting Community Forestry in Cambodia project was critical of the way that the government complemented the 2003 Community Forestry Sub-Decree with the 2006 Community Forestry Prakas and then refused to recognize measures taken towards achieving legal recognition from prior to 2006, thereby requiring all communities to start the process again (O'Leary, 2007). This form of bureaucracy might not have assisted the intended goals of improved livelihoods and sustainable forest management, but it certainly achieved the sort of unintended goals that Ferguson (1994) argued were served by development discourse, namely the extension of bureaucratic state power. The business of energies being poured into the measuring and planning of the detailed movements of every day life resonates perfectly with the logic of Foucaults (1979) prison which inspired Ferguson. The sorts of detail that would be required after legal approval, in the form of forest inventories and management plans suggest that community forestry would continue to contribute to the bureaucratisation and de-politicization of everyday life.



Fifty years ago the village of Bey was principally inhabited by people born and brought up in the area, and whose livelihoods were largely sustained by non-timber forest products (NTFPs), which were both traded and consumed. The logging of the 1990s transformed local livelihoods. NTFPs were no longer abundant, and villagers instead became dependent on labouring in the timber industry. There was some trading of timber in the village too, but it was principally people migrating into the village from trading villages on the Mekong who took advantage of trading opportunities. Overall, the years since peace came to Bey in 1994 have been a period of economic boom. Villagers were pleased about the changes. They regretted the disappearance of the beautiful tall hardwood trees and the abundance of food and wildlife, but none of them would turn the clock back from todays happier times to those more impoverished, isolated ones. However, the increased wealth has come at the price of insecurity, and villagers in Bey are generally extremely uncertain about their future prospects. Recently, opportunities for logging have declined as the forest resource is depleted. Attention has now turned to exploiting the forest as agricultural land. Since 2004 the population of the village has more than doubled as a result of households from agricultural areas of Kampong Cham province moving in to buy or claim farm land. At the same time, outside companies have established links with various local actors to try and establish claims to agricultural land. If successful they may extinguish villagers claims to land. The company holding a concession in the district while making deals with other companies has expressed its interest in principle in allowing villagers to have 5 hectares of agricultural land per household. Other experiences nearby suggest that any such allocation process will be uncertain and heavily mediated by the conflicting agendas of outsiders.


A community forestry project was launched in the village in 2003 by a local NGO which facilitated the election of a community forestry committee. The NGO, despite a commitment in principle to community development, has never been more than an occasional visitor to the village. One villager, Chan, was elected head of the community forestry committee. He has advocated community forestry, and attended meetings and trainings outside the village from 2003 to 2009 to support him in that role. He never succeeded in mobilising other villagers. A proposed community forest site was marked in April 2006. It was 6 kilometres remote from the village in an area not visited by villagers in their everyday lives. Chan never succeeded in establishing regular visits of patrols of the site. The NGOs supporting and financing community forestry and the Forestry Administration reported asking the local concession company to approve the community forest site. During the research they reported that they were waiting for a response. The representative of the company reported that it would definitely not approve the site. During May 2008 the commune chief was reportedly selling off parcels of land in the community forest site for up to 500 USD each. Chan began to report that the project had failed. At the end of the year the commune chief, at a meeting to which Chan did not receive an invitation, secured a decision from the commune council to end the project. Chan judged the project a failure, even saying that he himself had failed to win a single supporter to it. An international NGO has supported the community forestry project since 2005 as part of a programme supporting 133 villages in 7 provinces. The multilateral donor supporting the project has no technical staff in-country and relies on monitoring visits for technical support in overseeing the project. The community forestry project is grounded on a conception of the community more or less as it was fifty years ago before the forest resource was depleted and the local political economy transformed by the activities of non-local actors. NGO worker explanations as to how they can respond to this mismatch centre on the idea of teaching villagers to value their environment. Activists responsible for promoting community forestry have become disenchanted with its lack of effect. At the conclusion of this research in early 2009 the project at Bey remained on the list of projects being submitted for approval at the national Forestry Administration, and actors involved in community forestry measure current progress in terms of legal recognition of projects and anticipate that livelihood benefits from community forestry will follow much later. Interviews suggest that within the donor project there are many villages with situations that broadly resemble Bey in terms of non-NTFP livelihood and the identification of poor quality forest remote from the village; some villages however have livelihoods that are more NTFP-oriented and have functioning community forestry activities. The promotion of community forestry in a form that is regulated by the government at every step tends to weaken its potential to enhance villagers tenure rights at the expense of elite outsiders. By contrast, it absorbs the energies of villagers who might potentially have provided resistance, and implicitly extends the reach and legitimacy of the bureaucratic state. These processes correspond with the concept of dilution introduced in chapter 4. The location of the community forestry site likewise provides a local example of the diversion that was seen at national level.


6. Systematic Land Titling in Buon Village

6.1 Introduction

The fourth chapter of this thesis showed how tenure security interventions have been diverted and diluted in Cambodia. Systematic land titling was diverted away from areas prone to tenure insecurity, and into smallholder rice farming landscapes where tenure was already secure. Community forestry was admitted into the generally insecure forested landscapes, but only approved in diluted form (minimal rights awarded and minimal approval), and also, as we saw in chapter 5, diverted away from places where powerful interests might be engaged. The current chapter will take a closer look at a village where systematic land titling has been administered. By examining changes in the context of local livelihoods, it will be possible to critically reflect on the conclusions in chapter 4. Is it really villagers lived experience that tenure insecurity is elsewhere, and that the benefits that titling is intended to generate were already available de facto before titling? Or does formal titling actually generate more effects and possibilities locally than is expected after the national analysis in chapter 4. Following the approach outlined in chapter 3, I will first present the livelihoods of people in the village, and set those in the broader political and economic context which shapes them (immanent development), before then describing the villagers encounter with the systematic land titling intervention (intentional development) and its consequences. Underpinning the argument of chapter 4 was the idea that a resource rich area creates a landscape where powerful actors and interests compete. To the extent that those same powerful actors also have the opportunity to influence development interventions, they will make sure that any intervention which might challenge or disrupt their interests will be either diverted away from the resource rich area, or re-worked such that it serves rather than opposes their interests. Chapter 5 gave us insights into the livelihoods of poor people in such an area. On the one hand they faced the dangers of dealing with raw power. On the other hand, they faced the uncertainty of not knowing which actor would appear on the scene next, and of working out the truth behind the claims and connections of that actor. According to our findings in chapter 4, a village in rice fields is not resource rich. One would not expect it to attract outside actors who create a sense of danger and uncertainty for local inhabitants. Instead, one would expect something that comes nearer to mimicking the supposedly timeless tranquillity of the peasant village. In many ways this is exactly what we encountered in Buon. While rumours in Bey would revolve around new plans to redraw the map of the village and exclude people from the land, in Buon, the few rumours that circulated tended to be about marital infidelity or behaviour at the pagoda at festival times. In the context of Cambodia scholarship this is in itself of interest. Many accounts of recent Cambodian history reflect refugee experience which was dominated by displacement and trauma prior to escape to a third country. Other accounts have, on the basis of quite limited evidence, tried to construct arguments about the nature of community or social relations in Cambodian villages (Ovesen, Trankell, & jendal, 167

1996). Presented with the relatively tranquil political and economic landscape of Buon, I will therefore take the opportunity to spend a few pages setting the scene in Buon. This may provide a little more background than is strictly necessary to contextualise and support the arguments of this thesis but may make a modest contribution to empirical understandings of life in a Cambodian rice field village in the 20th and early 21st century. The chapter thus begins by describing the village of Buon, it then describes the livelihoods of the villagers and the factors which affect those livelihoods, and finally it describes the villagers encounter with the systematic land titling programme which was implemented in the village in late 2005 and early 2006.


Immanent Development: Lives and Livelihoods in Buon

6.2.1 Setting the Scene Modern History of Buon

For as long as anyone can remember, Buon has stood in its current location, with the pagoda to the north of the two ponds, Trapeang Toch to the southeast and Boeung Buon further to the south. The oldest people in the village, who were born in the 1920s and 1930s, know that their parents were born in the village and that there was always a pagoda there. At that time there were not more than thirty houses in the village, and according to one account only about ten (Interview 369). These houses were in two clusters around each of the ponds. Much of the land in the village area was forested, and the area between Trapeang Toch and the pagoda was particularly thick with bamboo. Unlike many other parts of the country, people did not recall fearing elephants and tigers at that time. However, packs of wild dogs were a danger to people caught on their own one older man recalled being having to seek refuge up a tree whilst waiting for assistance (Interview 383), while an older woman explained that children used to be afraid of the spirits in the forest (Interview 271). The village was by no means isolated. The market at Chambok, which today is a 15-minute motorcycle ride away could be reached in a couple of hours on foot, so whilst it was a journey that had to be planned it was by no means beyond the reach of the villagers who used to both buy and sell there (Interview 357). Today a journey to the national capital of Phnom Penh can be achieved in little more than an hour on a fast motorbike or a couple of hours by minibus, whereas then it took a day and a night travelling by oxcart (Interview 314). There were likewise trips to pagodas and other sights located mainly on the hills dotted about the otherwise flat landscape. Often these were trips by elephant. It was possible to hire elephants that were kept a few kilometres from the village at Phnom Sroung for excursions. Each elephant had a wooden platform and parasols, and eight or ten people could sit on one of these. The village chiefs mother, recalled one such trip when one of the elephants shied in fear, causing the girls on top of it to fall off; her brother-in-law, born in the village in 1927 remembers the processions of elephants and being scared of the creatures even though they were chained together; another woman, born in 1938, remembered going on trips with twenty or thirty elephants to the pagoda at Phnom Chiseav and staying there for two or three days to work with the monks (Interviews 314; 369; 357). 168

When the older people were young, the abundance of nearby forest meant plenty of readily available food: fish and frogs that could be collected from ponds and from the water in the rice fields and abundant vegetables and fruit (Interviews 357; 369). Families had sufficient rice land, and if a newly married couple needed more it was simply a question of clearing more from the forest. The forest also provided a place of refuge. Older villagers described tax officials coming to the village to collect taxes and the villagers, on hearing of their arrival running away into the forest in order to avoid paying any tax (Interview 383). Other tales of taking refuge had a harsher danger associated with them, as one old woman recalled French colonial troops and Cambodian resistance fighters going through the village looking for each other, and her sister hiding in a well every time the resistance fighters came because of her fear of being raped (Interview 314). On the other hand, we did not learn of any particular instances of violence by soldiers during those earlier phases of low level war in the 1940s, and another older woman interviewed said that the soldiers of both sides past through without event (Interview 357). If the decades of the early and middle part of the twentieth century seem to carry somewhat of a romantic flavour, with stories of elephant trips and tax evasion and wild dogs all told with a glint in the eye, this changes when the events of the 1970s and 1980s are recalled. First came the bombing of the Cambodian countryside by the Americans and by the Phnom Penh government which they supported112. One of our case study households have a pond in their garden which was created by an air-dropped bomb. Another bomb at that time landed in the pagoda killing a monk and a novice and destroying one of the buildings (Interview 290). Even this, though, pales in comparison with what was to follow during the 1975-79 period of the Khmer Rouge rule. Shortly after Phnom Penh was captured and evacuated in 1975, Khmer Rouge cadres, mainly boys and young men in black uniforms, were despatched to Buon and began sorting the population into true peasants, and 17th April people, the latter being people who had not supported the revolution before its victory on 17th April 1975. Most villagers fell into the latter category and were sent away to a work camp called 55, which was in the eastern part of the province in Prei Kabas and Angkor Borei districts. During that time of sorting the population, villagers were also taken away quietly in the evening, three or four at a time and executed just north of the village (Interview 290). Those who remained in the village were joined by 17th April people from elsewhere and worked alongside them on irrigation canals. According to one villager, there cannot have been any point to these except to keep people busy, because they were never connected to any water source and have never been used for irrigation either then or since. Husband and wife in that interview recalled the weddings that the Khmer Rouge used to organise with twenty or thirty people married in the same ceremony, forced to accept the partner given to them by the revolution. She said that as a dark-skinned woman she was glad to have married a lighter skinned man who would not have been a match for her otherwise, and they both smiled at the fact that they had remained together for thirty years. But she also said that she felt sad every time she heard wedding music and regretted that she had never had a traditional wedding herself (Interview 365).


The definitive account of the United States illegal bombing of Cambodia is given by William Shawcross (1979) . The early chapters of Francois Ponchauds (1978) contemporary account of the Khmer Rouge regime also contain survivor accounts of the bombings.


It seemed that it was not uncommon for villagers sent to 55 to try escape and return to the village (Interview 290, 325). The Khmer Rouge running Buon were mainly people they knew from other nearby villages so they were not killed, but allowed to visit briefly before being sent away to join other work camps. Villagers overall experience then, was of a mixture of rigid control, occasional humanity as well as unpredictable brutality. One woman recalled cases of Khmer Rouge cadre killing pregnant women and eating their foetuses, as well as eating their victims livers. When the Khmer Rouge were driven out in January 1979 there were no violent retributions by villagers against the local Khmer Rouge. One explanation for this was that most of them fled to the north-west of the country (Interview 383), but another interviewee said that one of the people who ate people still lived in the area (Interview 290). These defining experiences are remembered by a declining proportion of the population. Only 26% of the village population were born before 1970 and would therefore have had much memory of the Khmer Rouge times113. After 1979, peace came to Buon and the surrounding area. So, very much in contrast with the situation in Bey where villagers were part of Khmer Rouge raiding parties into the early 1990s, and where as late as 1994 a villager was killed by a mine in the village area, Buon has been safe and secure for thirty years. This does not, of course, mean that the village escaped the influences of the guerrilla war that was sustained by the Khmer Rouge and its international supporters during the 1980s. Many of the men in the village were conscripted into the army or to build defences in malaria forests on the Thai border. The assistant village chief recalled how her husband returned from this work with such bad malaria that he was unable to work for three years and she was left with the entire work of taking care of their young children and supporting the household alone (Interview 340). Much worse was the story of the woman, now in her seventies, whose anger and grief were still apparent as she recounted how the partially decomposed body of the last of her four sons, (all of whom died young) was brought back to the village, and how other villagers kept it at the pagoda for several days without telling her because they found it so horrific (Interview 395). According to villagers, the past ten years have seen significant changes in the appearance of the village. Houses are larger and better constructed, there are more businesses with more goods for sale, and people have more and newer, better motorcycles and bicycles (Interview 303). Location

Buon is located in Bati district, Takeo province. The village is approximately half way between the national capital Phnom Penh and Takeo provincial town. It is located between national roads 2 and 3 which both run from the capital to Takeo provincial town, and is just west of the national railway line which transports goods from Phnom Penh to the coastal ports of Kampot and Kampong Som. The market town of Chambok and the district offices are on National road 2, only about 7 km from the village, and therefore accessible from the village by either cycle or motorcycle. The commune office and the local health centre are both located a couple of kilometres away on the road from the village to the district/market town and are therefore also relatively accessible.


Village census 28 October-1 November 2006.



The village site is extremely flat. There are some trees grown on peoples house land, and there are small scrubby patches which are privately owned and used as sources of firewood, but generally the landscape, within the village area and beyond, is one of flat, rice fields interrupted only by dykes, roads and the houses built alongside them. The main access road to the village runs from west to east. The pagoda and school are to the north of the road, while virtually all of the houses and agricultural land in the village are found to the south of the road. At the west of the village is a road that runs from the pagoda south towards the next village. All of the members of the local authorities in the village (one commune council member114, the village chief, his deputy and their assistant) live along this north-south road at the west of the village. Also located along this road are two restaurants, one run by the deputy village chief and the other by another older man: both of these men had earlier experience of working at the district headquarters and have established their businesses in recent years. At the junction of the two roads are a couple of small shops, a generator which charges all of the villages batteries and a motorcycle repair shop. Additionally, just south of the junction is the village chiefs house, which hosts both a motorcycle repair shop and an ice retailing outlet. Thus, to the extent that the village has a visible economic life beyond the traditional local activities of farming and manufacturing string, it is wholly concentrated along the main access roads, and particularly along the road running from the entrance to the pagoda south. Two features not common in rural Khmer villages, but present in Buon are a church and a village community centre115. According to the commune chief, the community centre was donated by a national representative of the Cambodian Peoples Party, who has given the same sort of building to every village in the commune (Interview 237). The village chief, by contrast reported that he had to raise all the money for this construction and had not received anything for it (Interview 325). Construction of the community hall continued gradually throughout the three years that we followed the village. Sometimes we saw painters painting Buddhist murals inside it (each with the name of the person who donated 30 USD painted on to it). In late 2007 we met a group of people who were in a truck who had travelled to the pagoda as part of the Bun Khaten celebrations and also stopped off at the hall. The village chief is a Christian and took a leading role in cooperating with Christian NGO Assemblies of God in order to build the church (Interview 325). This is a white brick building next to a pond which was dug when the church was built. We did not see the church in any kind of use on any of our visits, although the household who live in front of it reported that they take

At the 2007 commune election he was one place too low on the party list to be able to retain his set as a councilor. Nevertheless, he continues to go to the commune office and work every day precisely as before, but is now known as a commune assistant rather than a commune councilor. 115 This is in contrast to the native ethnic minority villages in the northeast of the country which are typically congregated around a central communal hall which is used for meetings, celebrations and to host guests. A Japaneseled international development programme which I evaluated in early 2000 was implemented in parts of Takeo and neighbouring Kampong Speu provinces. Part of their approach included the construction of village halls. The expatriate advisors had anticipated this project leading to the adoption of such constructions as rural development policy nationwide. Whether this initiative had a role in the adoption of the idea of village community centres in Trapeang Krasaing commune was not clear.


care of it and that there are services for children every Saturday and for adults every Sunday (Interview 321). Population

At the outset of the research, Bey consisted of 64 households, which by its conclusion had expanded to 66 households. In no cases had any household either left or joined the village. The personal tragedies, violence and displacements that characterised much of Buons modern history are only partially reflected in the villages demography in the early 21 st century. The gender balance has been skewed by the disproportionate effects of conscription to military service and the building of national defences on the male population. Only 46% of the village population are male, with only 41% of the population over 18 in 2006 being men. On the other hand, however, the displacements and upheavals of the late 1970s have left no lasting trace as people seem to have returned home at the end of the Khmer Rouge period, so that the village population retains the overwhelmingly local flavour that villagers remember from before the civil war and genocide:
Today I live with my daughter and my nephew as my neighbours. All the families here are related. It was the same when I was young. It was all my relatives here (Interview 357).

As of late 2006, 89% of adult villagers were born in the village. Of the 11% who were not born in the village, the majority (7% of the total adult population) were born in nearby villages and had married into the village. Only three households did not contain adults born in Buon. This picture of geographical localisation could easily imply an insular or isolated rural community, evoking the sorts of (mis-) representation of rural life that we saw characterised development industry imaginations and descriptions in the introduction to this thesis. However, when we come to analyse the livelihoods of the villagers, and to see where people are when they are earning their livings, the image of unchanging isolation rapidly dissolves. Social Organisation

Three forms of community organisation were notable in the village and are touched upon here, namely activities centring on the pagoda, organisation by political parties and the operation of a form of savings group called Tong Tin. The village has gradually shifted, with houses concentrated along the roads instead of around the ponds. With the two main roads intersecting at the pagoda gate, the pagoda has moved, more by accident than design, from being somewhat remote from the village to being close to its centre. On the other hand, while in the past it had often had a hundred and sometimes even up to two hundred monks in residence (Interview 369), during the research period there were only about a dozen monks and we rarely saw them outside the confines of the pagoda grounds. On festival days (once every eight days) older people, mainly women dressed in immaculate black skirts and white blouses, could be seen carrying silver containers of rice and food to the pagoda. Other than this we observed little evidence of the pagodas influence on the village. However, villagers did report that the monks did visit the houses in the village in order to invite them to join them on trips to other pagodas. One of our poorer case study households, for 172

example, reported that they went on three or four such trips each year, when they could afford to (Interview 303). The pagoda was by no means a religious oasis cut off from the worldly concerns and interests of the village. In common with our experiences in Bey, and with the reports from our team members home villages, inter-village violence had become common at festivals and religious events at the pagoda (Interview 369). One of the land conflicts reported in the village area involved a husband and wife in conflict with the school authorities. According to the village chief (Interview 328), the wife was the daughter of the former chief monk at the pagoda. Her father had given them land to build a house when he was the chief monk. Since then, the new chief monk had come to an agreement with the education authorities that a new school could be built using land that previously belonged to the pagoda. The couple were attempting to resist this by claiming the land was their privately owned land, which put them in conflict with the school principal. Regarding political organisation, there was no visible sign of political activity by other parties than the ruling CPP in the village. There was a FUNCINPEC activist who was known as a member of that party and whose house was just south of that of the commune councillor on the main north-south road in the village. As far as we could ascertain, there was no Sam Rainsy Party activity in the village. Nevertheless, there was an awareness on the part of the authorities that the Sam Rainsy Party constituted a threat electorally. The commune councillor reported that of the 500 people who voted in Buon and the neighouring village at the previous election, 144 votes had been cast for the Sam Rainsy Party (Interview 374). The CPPs organisation at village level appeared rather thorough and impressive. According to the party organiser in the village (Interview 289), he had taken over the local organising since the village chief had been ill. He had organised the CPP members in the village into 16 teams or groups. Each group had a book where there was a passport photograph of the group leader and each member as well as their personal details. One of the party organisers responsibilities was to check the details of all of the members against the copy of the electoral role for the 2008 election. It was essential, he said, that the details be in perfect agreement otherwise people would not be able to cast their votes. Given the number and the size of the groups, it seemed that virtually all of the villagers must have been registered as CPP members116. This would also imply that a substantial number of registered CPP members voted for the Sam Rainsy Party on election day. There is therefore a certain form of political competition, including particular sorts of campaigning and resistance. Efforts are made to ensure that voters registered with CPP do not encounter bureaucratic problems when the electoral roll is finalised. Meanwhile, opposition supporters continue to proclaim allegiance to CPP while continuing to vote against them. Many villagers reported that they play Tong Tin in the village. Tong Tin is a revolving savings and credit association (ROSCA), and therefore an example of the sort of indigenous savings group that has been brought to international attention by scholars such as Stuart Rutherford. According to his classification, Tong Tin is a form of auction ROSCA (Rutherford, 2000, p. 37). Tong Tin requires a leader, who guarantees all of the obligations of all members of the group. A

If all 16 groups had had 17 members that would have made 272 people, when the village population is only 244. I could not check all of the books, but I infer that a large proportion of the adults were registered as party voters.


stake is agreed, and then every month every member pays the stake to one member in the group. So if there are thirty members, one round of Tong Tin will last thirty months. If the stake is 10 dollars, then each month one member will receive a maximum of three hundred dollars. However, the process to decide who the recipient will be each month is an auction. The person who bids the lowest sum of money is the recipient. Thus, if somebody is willing to accept 150 USD, each member then only has to contribute 5 USD that month. During the first month, it is the Tong Tin leader who is the recipient and receives the full stake. In this sense, therefore, the Tong Tin leader always wins because she always receives the first payment and it is a full payment. However, if any of the members fail to fulfil their obligation to make the monthly payment, the leader is responsible for covering that and therefore risks making a significant loss. There were several opportunities for villagers in Buon to participate in Tong Tin. One of our case study households, the main string traders in the village, was responsible for four rounds of Tong Tin at the beginning of 2008, whilst two of the other case study households also participated in Tong Tin groups in other villages. In one case the group had 60 participants and therefore represented a 5-year commitment on behalf of the leader and members (Interviews 281, 295, 298). Villagers spoke approvingly of Tong Tin as it meant that they could make a profit, and also that they could access larger sums of money in times of need (Interviews 290, 303). While profit levels were calibrated according to the desperation of the circumstances of people in need of ready cash, those people were also net beneficiaries because they were obtaining money at a better rate than if they went to a private moneylender117. The trust that is relied upon or institutionalised within Tong Tin is very heavily focused on the leader: it is not necessary to trust any of the other participants provided one fully trusts the leader. Credit

The availability of credit, and the terms on which it is available, can provide insight into the states of both economic development and social safety nets in a community. Seventeen of the 20
Table 6-1: Outstanding debts in Buon by type of creditor (November 2006)

Type of Creditor Family friends (interest-free) Family & friends (charging interest) Non-relatives (interest-free) Non-relatives (charging interest) Formal lenders (ACLEDA Rural Development Bank) Private medical practitioner (interest-free)
Source: Field Data, Livelihood Survey, Buon Village, October 2006

Frequency (n=31) 16 1 1 10 2 1

I am grateful to Stuart Rutherford for his assistance in both referring me to the relevant parts of his own work and explaining the benefits of the Tong Tin bidding ROSCA to me.


households sampled during our October 2006 Livelihood Survey reported current debts. The 17 households had average total debts of 1,221,176 riels (305 USD) with the most indebted household reporting owing 5,000,000 riels (1,250 USD) and the least indebted household reporting a 50,000 riels (12.50 USD) debt. Just under half of the debts were to fellow residents of Buon (see Table 6-1). Creditors for the 31 outstanding loans were reported as follows: Thus there was both formal and informal credit available and, despite the fact that almost all of the informal credit was reported at monthly rates of 10% or more, and formal credit at reported monthly rates of 3% and 4% far more people had accessed informal credit. The fact that such a large proportion of the loans were interest-free loans from friends and relatives indicates the extent to which informal social (or at least kinship) safety nets operated in the village. Furthermore, it is not certain that the 10% interest rates should be judged in isolation from default rates. Certainly, in one case one of the wealthier households in the village had loaned money to one of the poorer households, but when they had failed to repay the debt had been written off rather than enforced (Interview 336) The reasons given for indebtedness and their frequency are set out in Table 6-2 below:
Table 6-2: Reasons given for indebtedness in Buon (November 2006)

Reason given for acquiring debt Illness Buy food House construction Motorcycle purchase Buy land Investment and festivals Repay other debts Agricultural investment Cycle repair
Source: Field Data, Livelihood Survey 2006

Frequency (n=31) 19 3 2 2 1 1 1 1 1

Village leadership and safety nets for the poorest

The village chief and his two deputies were all related to the elderly couple who lived in the centre of the village. Most people in the west and centre of the village were related to this pair. However, in the east of the village, the families who traditionally lived around the second reservoir in the village formed a separate network. The members of the kinship network of the village chief and his relatives were generally wealthier. It seemed that the local authorities used their position in order to ensure that poorer households gained access to supplementary incomes. According to the Deputy Village Chief (Interview 286), there were five households who received 175

extra food from the government and another four who received extra food every month from an NGO that helps people who were living with HIV AIDS. There seemed to be general agreement in the village about who the very poorest households in the village were, and general knowledge and approval of the village chiefs (mis-) appropriation of HIV AIDS funding to assist them (Interviews 305; 306; 336)118. 6.2.2 How villagers from Buon make a living Overview

One of the most striking findings from the Village Census conducted at the outset of our research was that 69 people, or 35%, of the adult population of the village were living away from their homes in Phnom Penh. Principally these were young, mainly single women working in garment factories (typically returning for one night a month after they are paid) young, single men working on construction sites (who are more flexibly employed and may come home more or less frequently but usually for longer periods), as well as older men working as motorcycle taxi drivers in the city119.
Table 6-3: Main Reported Source of Income in Buon, 2007

Activity (PNP = located in Phnom Penh) Garment Factory remittances (PNP) String production and trading Retail trading Construction remittances (PNP) Motorcycle taxi (PNP) Other (PNP) Pig Raising Hiring out labour locally Milling and Trading Rice Motorcycle repair Handicrafts Total
Source: Field Data, Livelihood Survey, January 2008

Number of households 20 10 8 7 6 4 3 2 2 1 1 64


There is undoubtedly more to this story. It is difficult to believe that any organization is giving out support on the basis of word of mouth reports by local authorities that villagers are living with HIV, though one could imagine field workers taking license to use funds to help poorer families. However, we did not follow this up, and for our purposes the interesting point to note was the authorities sympathetic use of resources (compared to many other places I have stayed where there has been bad feeling about local authorities channeling resources away from the poorest and towards their own relatives and friends). 119 The way in which mens engagements with the broader economy gave them more freedom, whilst women were often engaged in employment in ways which involved their time and their movements being extremely restricted was a theme throughout our research in Buon.


As explained in Chapter 2, obtaining reliable economic data on household incomes and expenditures was a challenge throughout, however, in the course of the project we built up a clear picture of overall participation in different economic activities, their relative importance, and to some extent the incomes that they generated. In September 2007 we found that there were just 17 out of the villages 64 households who did not have any members working in Phnom Penh and sending money home to the village. As we will see, this was often explained by either households being unusually wealthy, or by them not having available labour. In our Livelihood Survey, conducted at the beginning of 2008, 37 of the 64 households reported remittances from Phnom Penh as their major source of income (see Table 6-3). Small businesses of different sorts were the main income source for 11 households (mainly retail outlets in the village but also rice milling and motorcycle repairs), whilst 10 households reported string as their main income source. To the extent that agriculture was a major source of income for households, this was as a result of either pig raising and trading (3 households) or milling and trading of rice (2 households). Arable farming was not the major income for any household in the village. The most thorough information we obtained on income sources was from the Incomes and Expenditure Questionnaire (though still of limited reliability, see Appendix 4) administered to our eight case study households in the village in March 2007 (see Table 6-4). This again showed the importance of incomes from Phnom Penh and the insignificance of incomes from arable farming120, although it did indicate that small livestock (pigs and chickens) were an income stream for all households.
Table 6-4: Breakdown of Buon Case Study Household (HH) incomes April 2006-March 2007

HH *121

Reported PNP Own String Arable income remittances business farming (riels) 16** 4,425,000 49% 4% 21*** 4,300,000 70% 07** 3,650,000 99% 09*** 3,476,000 83% 46** 3,441,000 17% 70% 52* 2,130,000 33% 55* 1,940.000 31% 5% 22** 540,000 37%
Source: Field Data, Income and Expenditure Questionnaire, March 2007

Livestock Loans Other122 and gifts 46% 7% 23% 1% 17% 2% 8% 47% 12% 5% 41% 18% 26% 18% 19%


Given that arable production is partly for domestic consumption, it could have an importance beyond the income it generates, a point to which we will return later in the chapter. 121 Household number, with asterisks indicating the wealth rank ascribed to the household by the village chief and commune councilor (Interview 289): ***= medium; **poor; *= very poor. On the basis of my knowledge of the households and also their reported expenditures, I would judge that both HH21 and HH22 have underreported their incomes by at least 50%. 122 Households 55 and 22, other = fishing; Household 52 other = daily wage labour


The two households that were exceptions and did not have incomes from Phnom Penh were illustrative. One was almost certainly the wealthiest in the village. The husband, who was also deputy village chief, worked as a motorcycle taxi driver during the 1990s and used the income from that to invest in a small soup restaurant specialising in dog meat (and euphemistically referred to by villagers as special soup). They reported that most of their customers were people who have earned money in Phnom Penh and want to come for a drink and to relax. The husband also hired out his services as a cook which generated as much income (though in lumpier, less predictable sums) as the restaurant and karaoke business at home. They had adult children, including two who had jobs in Phnom Penh, one working for a security company at the national airport and another working for an NGO. The wife made a point of saying that they would never take money from their children to support themselves, but rather that they would be ready to support their children (Interview 290). The other exception, by contrast, was one of the poorer households in the village, consisting of a husband, wife and four school-age children. Their household economy had been constrained by a motorcycle accident. The husband had been transporting a drunken man and a pig to a wedding several years previously, when the pig tried to wriggle away from the passenger and their struggle caused the motorcycle to crash. The husband broke his leg very badly. The hospital had been unable to re-set it satisfactorily and it was only properly set after a month spent at a traditional Khmer healer (Interview 300). However, the leg remained weak. When we met him he still could not do hard labour, or even ride a motorcycle except for short journeys and without heavy loads. As a result the household is very much dependent on income from string production: in the late afternoon the whole household - parents and children - were often to be found tearing up nylon sacks and spinning the threads into string. Had he not been injured he would have worked in Phnom Penh on construction sites or as a motorcycle taxi. When the children are a little older, it is anticipated that they will get factory jobs there. In fact, husband and wife said that they would already like their oldest daughter who is in year 8 at school to get such a job. However, they said that she had so far refused saying that she enjoyed school and wanted to complete her education and become a teacher or a doctor (Interview 301). In other words, the one household had no Phnom Penh incomes because they were exceptionally wealthy (by village standards) and did not need them, and the other did not have Phnom Penh incomes because at that point in the family lifecycle they did not have available labour for that. The overall picture then from our field data (especially the Village Census in 2006, the Livelihood Survey of all households in the village in 2008, and the detailed Income and Expenditure Questionnaire to the case study households in 2007) was that for most households, for most of the time, earnings from Phnom Penh were the most important income stream. A number of better-off households have small businesses which are their main sources of incomes, and in some cases obviated the need for their young adult children to work in Phnom Penh. Meanwhile string manufacture, animal raising and rice farming were supplementary activities whose significance varied. In order to identify overall factors influencing livelihood opportunities for villagers (which constitute the immanent development settings that any intentional development intervention would be required to engage with in order to make a difference) we will pause to consider some of the economic activities in the village in a little more detail.


Work in Phnom Penh

As recently as the late 1960s, rice farming, gathering food from the local area, and making and trading string were the main sources of income for the village: according to the village chief, at that time chief there were only two people in the village in those days who worked in Phnom Penh, both as cyclo-drivers (Interview 326). This had changed in the course of the 1990s as opportunities arose, initially it was men who went there to work as motor-taxi drivers, and in construction, but with the growth of the garment factories, it was young women who became the largest segment of the villages migrant labour force. By the time of the Village Census at the outset of our research in late 2006 32 young women (or 13% of the villages adult population) were working in a garment factory, whilst 16 men were working on construction sites and a further 9 were working as motorcycle taxis. Another of our case study households demonstrates how just one daughter at the right age to go into the garment factories could support a households economy. One of our case study households in Buon consisted of a husband and wife in their late 40s, two school-aged children and a daughter, who was born in 1982. Of their reported income in the year to March 2007, 83% came from salary brought home from a garment factory by the daughter. Until mid-2007 she had been working nights and earning as much as 120 USD per month. At that point, however, she decided that the work was too much and took a new job where she worked days and earned about 60 USD per month. By this time, the household had a large new wooden house purchased with her earnings, and for example, between the teams visits in March and September 2007 she had bought a fourteen inch colour television for 500 000 riels (125 US dollars), a vehicle battery for 180 000 riels (45 USD) and a new water jar for 20 000 riels (5 USD) for the household. By the end of the research she was married and her parents were receiving about 5 US dollars per month from her instead of the 50 60 US dollars that she had previously sent home, although they still seemed able to count on her for support as she had paid part of the costs of the latrine they were building and had also bought an ox123. Whilst her earnings had been exceptionally high (twice the normal when she was working nights), she was only one person. During the Livelihood Survey at the beginning of 2008 (see Table 6-5), 97 adults were reported to have worked in Phnom Penh in the previous year, with one household having as many as 7 of its members having worked there.
Table 6-5: Number of Buon Household (HH) Members Working in Phnom Penh in 2007

#HH members in PNP #HH in that category # individuals in PNP

0 17 0

1 17 17

2 24 48

3 4 12

4 2 8

5 1 5

6 0 0

7 1 7

Total 64 97

Source: Field Data, Livelihood Survey, Buon village, January 2008.


Around the time his daughter got married, her father had started selling ice cream. He would set out on his bicycle early in the morning, with ice cream in a cool box cooled with ice. The stock would only last the day, so if he did not sell enough during the day he would lose money. On days when he sold out he could earn the equivalent of 4 USD in a day. But there were days when he did not sell out, and he had stopped selling for a time because he kept failing to sell out. The household income was therefore considerably less secure than it had been the previous years.


At the individual level, the structure of opportunity for men and women is quite different. Amongst the younger generation, most of the young women who work in Phnom Penh have jobs in factories. Here they have an extremely regimented lifestyle, with long working hours and little or no choice as to when they come home to the village. Meanwhile, the rhythms of the factory are beginning to pulse into the rhythms of the supposedly rural village. The girls usually get paid on the tenth day of each month returning en masse to the village to visit their homes for a day and to pass on money to their families. This triggers the repayment of debt to the rice surplus households (mainly the two households owning rice milling machines) by the households with a rice deficit (Interview 342). There is an element of choice for the young women with regard to where they work, but the choice is between different factories which each provide the same overall pattern of work-dominated lifestyle. Young men, meanwhile, are generally employed in the construction industry. Work is far more irregular. Clearly, this provides opportunity them to exercise the freedom to behave in the way that they wish. A vicious circle was therefore operating in terms of the gender differentiation in lifestyle and work: the same social conditioning that reserves work in garment factories for diligent, obedient young women, also allows the less reliable and trustworthy young men to live a far more self-indulgent lifestyle away from the village. Generally, although interviewees tended to say that it was difficult to get jobs in Phnom Penh, the evidence seemed to contradict this for the period of our research. One young woman reported that the factory where she had worked had demanded entry fees from girls who were not qualified. However, she simply got some private tuition in sewing for a few hours and was then able to return to the factory and pass their tests and therefore be considered qualified without needing to pay the fee (Interview 378). During our time in the village we did not encounter any young women who were willing and able to work in Phnom Penh, but had not been able to so. The same applies to men working in the construction industry or as motorcycle drivers. There were instances of factories laying workers off temporarily, and while construction work also includes fluctuations if a young man is attached to a particular gang or foreman, and the foreman takes a few weeks off to go to his home village, or if the young man is looking for a new gang or a new project. Thus it is not the case that every person has paid work every week. Nevertheless, the larger picture was of work being available and Buon villagers not encountering any major entry barriers to employment. On the other hand, on our sixth and final visit in early 2009, whilst we did not collect systematic information on employment at that time, we did hear of far more cases of factories closing and also of construction sites shutting down with projects not completed. Clearly then, the globalised garment industry in particular, and the terms of Cambodias acceptance into it, as well as the general world and regional economic booms have created the employment opportunities for Buons relative prosperity in the decade up to and including our research period. The garment industry in Cambodia is under constant threat. Quota agreements have protected the Cambodian industry from direct competition with China and Vietnam, and a booming world economy has ensured that overall demand had been healthy. There is no certainty that these conditions will continue. A downturn in the global and regional economies would stiffen competition for jobs in Phnom Penh, possibly leading to the erection of the sort of entry barriers that currently seem to be absent, and very possibly also forcing many of the Buon villagers to either return to the village, or to attempt to survive elsewhere. 180

There is a clear difference here between the changes in Bey and the changes in Buon. In Bey the economic changes that transform the physical landscape are also transforming livelihood opportunities. Economic change is about competition for land and land-based resources, and its effects are inscribed on the landscape. In Buon, on the other hand, economic change has been decoupled from the landscape. This tallies with what has been observed in studies of livelihoods that have found deagrarianisation elsewhere in Southeast Asia (Rigg, 2006), and is of course in direct contradiction with the tendencies in development discourse established in the introduction to this thesis, which stubbornly adhere to notions of rural as traditional and isolated and primitive. Small Businesses in the Village

Notwithstanding the dominance of Phnom Penh incomes in the local economy overall, it is also notable that almost all of the better off households in the village have their own local businesses. These included two restaurant businesses, a wedding business (providing photography, furniture, music), the retailing of ice, motorcycle repair, cycle workshop as well as the standard small businesses found in just about all rural Cambodian villages, namely vehicle battery charging and rice milling. In some rare cases, these households have become so well off that their children have not needed to go to Phnom Penh to work. In addition to the deputy village chiefs household mentioned above, the assistant village chief and her husband who have a rice mill and also trade rice and provide credit to other villagers, were able to send their two oldest daughters away for two years to get educated as a veterinarian and a midwife respectively. These both promise relatively secure incomes, but required substantial fees, in the region of 1500 USD each, to be paid to middlemen and overall was reckoned to have cost the household in the region of 6000 USD in total for the two years of education for the two young women (Interview 346). In both of these cases, the men in the households had spent time in the 1990s working as motorcycle taxi drivers in Phnom Penh. It is tempting to see a link between the acquisition of capital from Phnom Penh incomes and the establishment of small businesses in the village. This would apply to some extent in the case of the assistant village chiefs household, as they needed to save money to buy the generator and most of this came from his motorcycle taxi earnings and from her success in raising pigs at a time when the price of pork was high (Interview 343). However, in the case of other businesses such as the restaurants the need for capital was not great, and the decisive role played by Phnom Penh incomes was not in providing start-up capital, but in generating demand. The deputy village chief said that most of his restaurant customers were youngsters and that he did not know how the village would survive without Phnom Penh incomes. He illustrated this by pointing out the poverty of families that could only rely on string and rice farming for incomes (Interview 286). The other factor which the households with businesses had was that they were located along one of the two roads that go through the village. Thus, the relocation of the village over the past thirty years from the banks of the two ponds to the roads, has mirrored its economic reorientation towards outside markets and incomes. The elite of the village, both the business people and all of the members of the local authorities, including all of the better off households, now have houses along the roads. 181

Making and Trading String/Rope Tethers

Buon lies in the poorer, western part of Bati district. The district chief, who grew up in the province, explained the spatial distribution of handicrafts in explicitly geographically determinist terms without using that language (Interview 234). He believed that because the soils in the eastern part of the district were better, the populations there had always been wealthier and have therefore had more money to spend on education. As a result they had the capacity to engage in more highly skilled and profitable work, hence the proliferation of looms and the weaving of relatively expensive silk sarongs in the eastern part of the district. In the western part of the district, however, the soils are poorer, and therefore over time human resources have also been poorer and therefore the villagers work on the simpler task of spinning bark into rope and making tethers out of it. It is in this western part of the district that the village of Buon is located. The tradition in Buon has been to make string from either the bark or from strips of leaf from coconut palm (Interview 295; 326). There is one older lady with failing eyesight who still uses this method. In recent times the materials for the string have changed. From about 2003 people started to use old damaged fertiliser bags which would be torn into strips and weaved into thin string, which is in turn plaited into the three-ply strings that are used to make the tethers for the animals. As recently as 2005, families have started to buy nylon string from the market to use as a raw material instead (Interview 353). The nylon is much stronger, but this is not necessarily regarded as an advantage: if an animal becomes very violent and determined to escape from where it is being tied or held, it is better for the string to break than animal to damage itself in the struggle. On the other hand, the nylon rope is easier for households where there is possibly just one or two adults involved in the manufacture of the string (Interview 349). Where nylon bags are used, the whole family, including small children, typically becomes involved in tearing up the nylon bags into thin strips and then in feeding them onto the string in the evenings as pieces of string stretching over 100 or more meters are spun on bicycle wheels in the evenings. At any time of the year and at any time of the day wandering around the village one finds people working at making string. While for some households this is a supplementary activity carried out when other work has been done, for others it can be a near full-time activity (Interview 349). Profit margins from string manufacture are however small, and at different times during the research people had abandoned it as an activity either because the price of old fertiliser sacks had increased (Interview 283) or because there were insufficient buyers (Interview 333). Overall, the households who could make significant profit from string were the ones who were involved in trading it. This applied especially to the case study household which purchased the sacks from factories in Phnom Penh and brought them to the village, and which got 70% of its income from string manufacture and trade in 2006 (Income and Expenditure Questionnaire, March 2007). For other households, participation in the trading of string meant collecting string made at home or made by other households who could not travel, and then setting off on a bicycle tour for several days, often going to other provinces, staying at peoples houses along the way and selling string direct to villagers with cattle. The ten households who reported that string was their main source of income were largely households who were able to engage in such trading. In the wealth ranking exercise seven of these households were adjudged very poor, three of them poor and none of them in the better off category.


Highly labour-intensive, somewhat vulnerable to market fluctuations and not particularly profitable, the production of string is an emblem of poverty (and of the poverty of options for many households) rather than a way out of it. We did not learn of any way in which engaging in string manufacture and sales might be a route to a better standard of living. Rice Farming

Rice farming is still an important part of the landscape of Buon and of the lifestyle of almost all households. As at January 2008 there was only one household that did not report owning some rice land. However, the landholdings are small, with most families owning less than a hectare (see Table 6-6 and Table 6-7). Yields are likewise low, with only five to ten households a year likely to harvest enough rice to meet their household consumption needs for the year.
Table 6-6: Land holdings by Household in Buon January 2008 (n=64)

Land holding (Ha) #Households

0 1

0-0.5 17

0.5-1 22

1-1.5 13

1.5-2 7

2-2.5 4

0-2.5 64

Source: Field data, Land and Livelihood Questionnaire, administered 15-18 January 2008

Table 6-7: Reported Yields by Household in Buon 2007 Growing Season (n=62)

Yield (tonnes) #Households

0 2

0-0.5 10

0.5-1 23

1-1.5 18

1.5-2 6

2-2.5 3

0-2.5 62

Source: Field data, Land and Livelihood Questionnaire, administered 15-18 January 2008

In an interview with Sann, a successful farmer and trusted informant, we elicited figures for a typical hectare of rice land in Buon. According to his calculations a hectare might produce 1.5 tonnes of neang minh124 unmilled rice, which would sell at 500-600 riels per kilogramme, giving a total value of 185-225 USD125. The cost of inputs, excluding labour was estimated at 40 USD. However, if labour costs were included for transplanting, harvesting and transporting from the field126, the cost of production would have increased by 100 USD (or half the value of the crop) to 140 USD. The significance of labour costs led Sann and others to conclude that rice farming was only profitable if the household used its own labour. This was not fully supported by his own figures (which suggested a profit of 60 USD if labour was hired, but this does not include the checking and weeding of the crops). Detailed information from interviews with Case Study households suggested that Sanns figures were broadly representative (see Table 6-8);


The other rice variety popular in the village was ka maly which was more valuable, with unmilled rice selling at 800-900 riels per kg, and tasted better, but which generated lower yields and was therefore less widely grown than neang minh (Interview 297). 125 The use of cash values is not to imply that rice is a cash crop. As we have seen, for most households, most of the crop is consumed within the household, either by the family or by livestock. 126 There are other substantial labour inputs especially relating to weeding the crop and bringing the grass back from the field to feed oxen. However, this is not typically something for which labour is hired. Children often make a major contribution to this part of the household work.


interestingly the one case where a household made a loss they ascribed it to family illness which meant that they were forced to hire labour rather than work themselves.
Table 6-8: Rice Production in Buon village, Cambodia. 2006 and 2008.

HH Interview Ha number 7 7 273 270 1.24 1.24

Costs (riels)

400 000

9 16 21 22

276, 277 281 287 291

0.7 0.8 1.0 0.12

804 000 (500 000 labour hire included) 250 000 508 000 394 000 175 000 100 000

Yield (riels) (kg if available) 650 000 (1,300kg) 780 000

Profit/Loss (riels and USD equivalent) 250 000 62.50 USD - 24 000 - 8 USD 258 000 64.50 USD 516 000 129 USD 280 000 70 USD 50 000 12.50 USD


2008 Rice for 9 months 2006 Illness meant that labour had to be hired. 2008 2006 2006 Household has more land but this the only plot for which clear information could be provided on inputs. 2006 2006 2008 On rented land. Size may not be accurate.

910 000 (1820 kg) 455 000 150 000

46 52 55

295 302 309

0.8 1.1 0.5

150 000 160 000 30 000

240 000 (480 kg) 240 000 (480 kg) 180 000 (200 kg)

90 000 22.50 USD 80 000 20 USD 150 000 37.50 USD

Source: Field Data, Interviews with Case Study Households 2006-2009

Overall then, the experiences of case study households in Buon during the study period, suggested that, even discounting the cost of labour, rice farming only had the potential to generate the equivalent of about 140 USD per hectare per annum. This was in the context of most households owning less than a hectare of rice land. Set in comparison with households receiving thirty or forty dollars per month from each young woman bringing home unspent wages from garment factories, this is not a mainstay of the village economy. Generally, Sanns own household was the only one that could confidently predict having a tradable rice surplus every year (Interview 342), with up to about ten other households possibly growing enough to cover their own rice consumption needs (which are of course only a portion of household food needs, which are in turn only a portion of household expenditures). This was supported by the Land and Livelihood Questionnaire administered in January 2008 where only 5 184

households reported any income from selling rice, and of these none of them reported it as their main source of income. It was also confirmed by interviews where villagers reported that their crop would usually enable them to meet their household rice needs for 6-9 months of the year (e.g.Interviews 273; 301; 303; 309; 349; 353; 292). Our findings clearly show that Buon, despite external appearances to the contrary, is not, economically at least, primarily a rice farming village. There is also evidence that the importance of rice farming is gradually declining, with the culture of the village beginning to adjust to its new economic realities. The rice fields of Buon border directly onto the rice-fields of neighbouring villages so there is little prospect of an increase in available rice land. Neither, given the lack of any obvious water source does there seem to be the prospect of the sort of infrastructural development that would be required to transform the rice economy by introducing irrigation schemes enabling farmers to move away from the high-risk, low yield limitations of rain-fed agriculture to the relatively high-input, high yield and high profits of irrigated production. In these circumstances, successful households no more want their children to be rice farmers than they want them to work in garment factories. Sanns household eventually had to hire some labour during transplanting because their daughters had been away studying. Now they are both back and working in animal health and public health services respectively These two young women who have grown up working on the farm and going to school will no longer be farmers, and their salaries and other associated incomes will now represent a substantial portion of the households income. But it is not only in the wealthiest households that changes could be seen. As noted previously, it had been rare for anyone not from the local area to marry into the village. However, this was beginning to change. Heng Sothavy met her husband in Phnom Penh when she was there selling fruit and he, a native of Battambang in north-west Cambodia, was working as a driver for an Australian company. Om Sreis son-in-law was a motor cycle driver in Phnom Penh when he met her daughter who was then working in a garment factory. Neither man is from an agricultural background. Sothavy and Om Srei describe these new members to their families as not able to plough (Interviews 393; 396). This is both a cultural marker such men have not previously existed in the village changing what it means to be a villager in Buon, but also a practical obstacle to farming in those households. If they are to farm their land it will involve hiring someone else to plough it: with timing of ploughing often crucial and rains unpredictable this can be a time-consuming and uncertain arrangement. Many households without draft animals or adult male labour manage to plough their lands, however, it becomes less and less self-evident that a household will farm the land if it does not have the labour to do so (especially given the observations of villagers about profitability depending on not requiring to hire in labour). A technical revolution in rice farming might, of course, alter these trends, particularly if it were to be able to treble or quadruple yields. In September 2007 the deputy village chief was enthusing about new methods of rice farming that he has learned at an extension centre at nearby Tram Kok. It involved less labour and less seeds as individual rice plants were transplanted rather than several together. He reported that this was the second year that he had used this method and he anticipated that it would become widespread. By early 2008 he was reporting that two other households had experimented with this technology on small trial plots in their fields. In late 2008 we sat in the village and watched the Minister of Agriculture proclaim that this new way of transplanting would indeed enable revolutionary increases in yields. However, in the village the 185

initial enthusiasm gave way to a reversion to traditional methods as it became apparent that controlling weeds was a far greater challenge with the new method. In absence of some such technological revolution rice farming will continue to dominate the physical appearance of the landscape, and no doubt the culture and identity of most of the villagers for some time to come, but it will also continue to be of marginal importance in the household economies of the villagers. 6.2.3 Conclusions: Immanent Development and Livelihoods in Buon After the relative poverty of the 1980s and early 1990s, Buon has subsequently become a village where the most important economic activities take place elsewhere, with activities at home, whether the manufacturing of string or rope tethers or the farming of rice, acting as supplements to the main forms of income which tend to come directly or indirectly (in the case of the flourishing restaurant, wedding, money lending etc businesses) from employment in Phnom Penh. Economic change has long since been divorced from changes in the landscape in the village. During the decade up to and including the research there had been abundant employment opportunities available in Phnom Penh for villagers who were able and willing to take those opportunities: the terms of incorporation were heavily biased against young women in many respects, but the overall economic impacts for the village were positive127. As such, the villages experiences reflect the trends noted regionally towards a delocalising of livelihoods and their decoupling of livelihoods from land and agriculture (Rigg, 2001, 2006). On the other hand, the village has, in contrast with some of the Thai experience mentioned in chapter 2, not become part of a manufacturing frontier, but has rather retained the characteristics of a labour reserve (Rigg et al., 2010, pp. 146-148) The fieldwork for this thesis was completed in March 2009. By the end of that year Cambodia had experienced its first year of negative growth since the signing of the new constitution in 1993. This has impacted upon the economic activities upon which Buons economy depends: 11.4% of the jobs in Cambodian garment factories were lost in 2009, and for workers remaining in the industry, income levels fell by 20% because of reduced overtime (IMF, 2009, p. 9). There is little in the experiences of Buon during the study period that suggests that local resources could be mobilised in order to provide an adequate safety net if economic opportunity in Phnom Penh was drastically curtailed. The village might be able to re-absorb its migrant working population, but circumstances would be extremely impoverished in comparison with the previous decade.


The Systematic Land Titling Intervention in Buon

6.2.4 Introduction Systematic land titling, a component of Cambodias Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP) was initiated in the commune of Bati district where Buon is located with a public meeting on 3 November 2005. Buon was one of the last villages to complete the process shortly before the current research began. By the time we completed our research, therefore, villagers had

I also gathered information on the terms of incorporation into marriage amongst older households in the village, and here again there was a bias against women. Five out of eight of the case study households had experienced cases of marital infidelity, inevitably involving men leaving the household, often taking money with them, and leaving their wives with more work and far fewer resources. Garment factory exploitation of female labour is therefore in some ways a new form of exploitation, but could also be seen as reworking of pre-existing injustices against women.


had their titles for about three years. As we have seen in chapter 4, the LMAP systematic land titling aims to improve tenure security by providing formal legal title to all land-owners. The project appraisal document (PAD) for the World Bank loan of 24.3 million USD to LMAP outlined the development objectives and outcome/impact indicators (see Table 6-9) and the outputs and indicators(see Table 6-10) which are broadly typical for such programmes (World Bank, 2002, p. 27).
Table 6-9: LMAP Project Development Objective and Outcome/Impact Indicators

Project Development Objective

Outcome/Impact Indicators

Land tenure security for urban and Conflict over land falls agricultural land holders improved Land grabbing falls Agriculture productivity rises Access to (cheaper) credit increases Investment in the property sector increases Land markets efficiently operate more Number of land transactions increases Taxes and Fees collected from land transactions increase

Source: (World Bank, 2002)

The outputs and indicators for the land titling programme were as follows: This is achieved systematically in the sense that titles are prepared and issued to a whole community at the same time. In common with other similar programmes, the aim is to build on local knowledge in order to formalise existing informal arrangements in order to create a fair formal system. Villages are first surveyed with volunteers from the community being involved in that work, this initial survey results in a provisional map where plots are assigned to owners. The map is then posted in a public place and villagers are given thirty days to appeal the allocation. Titles are prepared and issued for all land where there are no competing claims (on payment of a small administrative fee which is charged per square meter according to whether land is house or agricultural land). Where ownership is contested, the plots are then referred to a series of committees whose aim is to settle the conflict as quickly as possible without need to refer to a higher level committee or, ultimately, the courts. Villagers experience of titling will be reviewed in the light of these expected benefits. First, we will consider inclusion/exclusion in/from titling, then the impacts on tenure security and investment, credit, the land market and social costs of land conflicts will be reviewed. These findings in Buon will then be set in the context of existing and subsequent research on the impacts of LMAP titling elsewhere in rural Cambodia.


Table 6-10: LMAP Systematic Land Titling Component: Outputs and Indicators.

Outputs Titles are issued effectively and efficiently

Indicators Map shop is fully operational One million titles issued under the systematic titling program 95 percent of titles collected by beneficiaries Average cost of issuing title is less than USD 30 per title. Issuance of titles through sporadic adjudication takes less than 2 months from start to finish.

Land registration system functioning well

Provincial and district land offices are built 75 percent of land transactions are registered Registration of land transaction in Phnom Penh is completed in one day by year 4 of the project. Computerized land registration database system is operational in Phnom Penh Land Office and access to information in the registry is available online to government, financial institutions and individuals for a charge.

Source: (World Bank, 2002, p. 27)

6.2.5 Titling in Buon: Inclusion and Exclusion from the Process Overall, the titling process in Buon proceeded as envisaged. Two villagers accompanied the survey teams in the initial survey of the land: the deputy village chief taking responsibility for the northern portion and another villager the southern portion of the village (Interview 289). The map that was produced was posted at the pagoda for thirty days. Titles were issued and the fees charged were in accordance with the modest scales issued by the Ministry. During our interviews, when we asked to look at peoples land titles they were almost invariably produced from a plastic wallet, usually from under on one of the beams just over our head as we sat under the house. The exceptions were the rare cases where either somebody had a locked box with their documents or where the title had been provided as collateral for a loan or surrendered when the land was pawned. The titles were on good quality paper, were clearly printed and included a map which showed the adjacent plots (Figure 6-1 and Figure 6-2128). The only two concerns about the papers which arose during the research were firstly the difficulties villagers had in identifying which title related to which of their plots (it was difficult, though, to see how the titles could have been made clearer), and the fact that one part of the form, which required that land be classified as either


These photographs have been altered in order to obscure the names of the village and the commune. The title relates to a plot belonging to a Buon villager but located in another village.


agricultural or housing land was left blank (see Figure 6-1) an omission which appeared to create the possibility of mischievous challenges to the validity or completeness of the title129. Of the 365 plots of land in the village, there were 17 for which title had not been issued. Three of these non-issued titles were for land titled as public land, one school and two wells. Of the remaining 362 private plots, there were only 14 (or just under 4%) for which titles had not been issued. Seven of these related to plots that were subject to ownership conflicts. These will be discussed fully in the section on impact of titling on the social costs of conflict below. In the context of the general inclusiveness of the process, however, it may be noted that the design of LMAP, showed an improvement on earlier cases in the literature where a conflict over one plot could delay issuance of title for landowners throughout an adjudication area 130 (Hendrix & Rockcliffe, 1998). The cases where title had not been issued were discussed both with provincial and district officials at the provincial land department office (Interview 232), and also with the households who did not receive title. Of the seven remaining plots to which title had not been issued, four related to plots for which cadastral officials reported that all the paperwork had been complete and the titles had been ready for collection, but that the households had not collected their titles on any of the occasions when they had come to the village for that purpose. The four plots were owned two each by two different couples. One of these couples did not live in the village, again raising the possibility that the systematic titling process is unintentionally biased against non-local land owners. The other couple were husband Sophal and wife, Navy, well-known to us as they were one of our case study households. They reported that they did not know why they had not been issued with title. However, we knew that Sophal was often away in Phnom Penh working on construction sites. During those times Navy often took their small child to her mother in the next village, so it seems fair to speculate that she may have been absent from the village on each of the occasions when the titles had been distributed. Alternatively, as the officials mentioned, the household might have been short of cash and decided they did not want to pay the fee at that time. Of the other three cases of non-issued land, one related to a plot owned by the deputy village chief and his wife: probably the most wealth and well-connected couple in the village. In this case cadastral officials reported that he had earlier sought and received a sporadic title to his land, and that unless he returned that title he could not receive a new one. The deputy village chief, on the other hand, reported that he had applied for a sporadic title but never been issued one. This he said was simply a ruse and an example of corruption:
They want money from us. It isnt about anything else. They want two or three hundred dollars, but they are not getting it from me (Interview 288, Authors translation).

Clearly angry (at the same time as saying that he was not angry and did not care), he said that he had lived on this land since 1979 and before that, and nobody was ever going to try and throw him off it, so a title really did not matter. If they did not want to give him one he was not going to

The Deputy Provincial Land Department chief ascribed this to a lack of legal direction on how to classify urban and non-urban land (Interview 190) 130 As noted, for example, by Hendrix and Rockcliffe (1998) in the case of Guyana.


Figure 6-1: Land Title in Buon, Photographed 2008. Front. (Photograph: Robin Biddulph)


Figure 6-2: Land Title in Buon,. Photographed 2008. Reverse. (Photograph: Robin Biddulph).

ask for it. He continued by explaining that he knew who they all were, and knew the person who they rented their office from in town (Interview 289). According to the cadastral officials, the two remaining unissued titles had been delayed because during the processing of the applications officials had forgotten to sign relevant documents. That documentation had subsequently been signed and the titles processed so that they were now ready for collection. In both of these cases the villagers who had not received title were resident in other villages, and in one of the cases they had been involved in a conflict over another plot of land in Buon. According to officials at the Provincial Department of Land Management, the seven titles were ready for collection. The owners would, however, need to get a letter from the commune office confirming their identity, and would then need to travel to the provincial town to collect the title. A small official payment at the commune office would be expected to be required, (probably 5,000 to 10,000 riels or 1.25 2.50 US dollars131. Assuming that villagers know that they have a right to go and collect their titles (and we have no evidence that they do), it is likely that they would regard turning up at a provincial office as a highly risky venture, with the possibility of

This approximates roughly to what someone might earn for a days labour.


either a high payment being demanded, or of being sent away because the time was wrong or they had the wrong paperwork etc. In other words, in the context of the prevailing relationships between Cambodian villagers and provincial and district officials it seemed highly unlikely that these titles would be collected unless there was some external initiative or stimulus. This was corroborated by one case we encountered where (similar to the case of Sophal-Navy above), where a household in the village owned land in another village. They had not been informed when titles were issued, so had not collected the title to their land in that village. They said that they had no plans to go and collect it, but hoped that the cadastral officials might want the fee and therefore would come to them (Interview 321). Overall, then, at the household level the titling had been inclusive in Buon. If there was any pattern to be noted in the small number of households that did not receive title it seemed to be that people not resident, or not present, in the village were more likely to miss out132. The other level at which exclusion from titling may be a problem is within the household. As noted in chapter 2, one of the risks of a programme that formalises existing land tenure relations is that it inadvertently strengthens mens position in relation to household assets by automatically issuing title to a male head of household. In Buon, villagers reported that where land had been donated to either husband or wife by their respective families that they had registered the land to that spouse, but otherwise they had jointly titled their land and had been encouraged to do this by cadastral officials. A specific issue that arose in this respect were the cases of two single women, one of whom reported being a widow, the other of whom had been deserted by her husband thirteen years previously when the youngest of their six children was still a baby. The first of these women reported that she separated from her husband 14 years previously and that he had since died, though she was not sure when. She reported indignantly that the cadastral officials had said that if she could not prove this that she could not title the name in her own name that it must be jointly titled, which it was (Interview 380)133. In the second case, the woman having occupied her house land and brought up the six children since her husband had left, had applied to be the sole owner of the land. Her former husband, who had been the original o