City Hall Announces New Plan to Raise Living Standards of Poor

City Hall announced a new plan to improve living standards in the city’s poorest areas Tuesday on International Human Rights Day, while representatives for the urban poor continued to call on the municipality to issue longsought after land titles.

Addressing a crowd of 600 at Olympic Stadium, including representatives of 49 civil society groups and NGOs, Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong cited a housing project in Pur Senchey district as evidence that City Hall was acting to improve living conditions for the city’s poor.

“There is a partnership be­tween Phnom Penh municipality and civil society to strengthen the fundamental rights of the urban poor,” he said.

The municipality is working with a U.S.based NGO on a pilot project to upgrade a slum, An­doung village, in Pur Senchey district, where more than 1,000 families live, he added.

“We can say, we can upgrade and develop it into a small city,” he said, adding that construction had already begun on 4meterby6meter houses that cost about 5 million riel, or about $1,220, which he said families could borrow and pay back later.

“It is not a dream but we have begun work with a real plan,” he said.

Mr. Socheatvong said that he would continue to work closely with civil society groups to raise the standard of living for Phnom Penh’s poorest residents.

“From now on, it is a clear message to urban poor communities that Phnom Penh municipality and civil societies will gather labor, resources, all types of means and time to help and im­plement the fundamental rights of urban poor.”

According to a map distributed by City Hall, a total of 32,559 poor families live in Phnom Penh. Rus­sei Keo district is home to the greatest number (7,766) followed by Meanchey district (7,141) and Pur Senchey (6,166).

Also at the event, which followed the theme of fundamental rights for the urban poor, Hem Phan, a representative of nine communities who had been displaced from central Phnom Penh to Sen Sok’s Khmuonh commune, urged Mr. Socheatvong to legitimize their current dwellings.

“We took this chance to hand the government petition of our urban poor communities hoping the governor will issue titles for our properties where we have lived since 2001,” Mr. Phan said.

Mr. Phan presented a petition, signed by members of 1,050 displaced families, to Mr. Socheatvong, which reads: “At the present time, people living at the nine urban poor communities are really concerned and dare not renovate their accommodation with strong foundations because the land that we live on does not have legal titles yet.”

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