Land Returns After Complaint to World Bank Offer Hope to Indigenous Villagers

Indigenous villagers in Cambodia hope to regain their livelihoods after they successfully pressured the World Bank over its financial ties to a land-grabbing company.

Rattanakiri Province — Lmam Pjanh recently sat on a mat in her simple wooden house and recalled the times when Kak Village, situated in a bend of the Sesan River, was a place of plenty.

Until the late 1990s, she said, the ethnic Kachork village in the rolling hills of Cambodia’s remote, northeastern Ratanakkiri Province was surrounded by thick forests in which the villagers would create clearances to farm dry rice and let their animals graze. Nearby, small streams and the Sesan teemed with fish.

Their intimate knowledge of the forest allowed the Kachork to hunt and to collect numerous edible or practical products. They practiced their animist beliefs at burial sites, ’spirit mountains’’ and other spiritually significant natural sites.

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