Boeung Kak Lake Evictions in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

No city for urban lakes. Infrastructure investors dry up a wetland and evict residents


The Boeung Kak Lake was a lake in the center of urban Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It used to be a residential area for around nine villages surrounding the lake, in which around 4000 families lived (1). The lake was further a central source for food and income generation for the residential families, based on the use of related natural resources (i.e. fishing, water plants), as well as an important local water source. Boeung Kak Lake was the largest urban wet land in Cambodia.

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Basic Data
NameBoeung Kak Lake Evictions in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
SitePhnom Penh
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Urban development conflicts
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project Details133ha of former lake area and surrounding areas, used as residential land and water source of small urban fishermen and farmer communities, converted into land for luxury urban property development
Project Area (in hectares)133
Level of Investment (in USD)79,000,000
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population15,000-20,000
Start Date01/03/2007
Company Names or State EnterprisesD’Lotus Development Limited from Cambodia - Boeung Kak Lake property development, Phnom Penh
Erdos Hong Jun Investment Co., Ltd from China
HLH Group Limited (HLH) from Singapore - Boeung Kak Lake property development, Phnom Penh
Shukaku Inc. from Cambodia - Boeung Kak Lake property development, Phnom Penh
Relevant government actorsLao Meng Khin, (Cambodian People’s Party)
International and Financial InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersNational and regional level


Bridges Across Boarders Cambodia (now Equitable Cambodia)

Inclusive Development Cambodia

Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF)

Mekong Commons

and others

International level

Human Rights Watch

Amnesty International

and others
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow)
Potential: Air pollution
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Other Health impacts
OtherSuicide due to survival threats
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Criminalization of activists
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
Land demarcation
New legislation
Development of AlternativesAn alternative development and housing plan was proposed by the remaining community in January 2011, in cooperation with NGOs such as Bridges across Boarders Cambodia (now Equitable Cambodia). In this plan, the development of housing facilities onsite were proposed, so that the communities would not have to leave the area (7). Under international pressure, the Cambodian government agreed and issued in August 2011 a sub-decree in which 12,44ha were allocated to around 800 remaining families (8).
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Project goes on, while most families have been evicted.
Sources and Materials

Sub-Decree No.183 ANK.BK

(Sub-decree issued on August 11th for the allocation of 12,44 ha to Boeung Kak Lake villagers for onsite development)
[click to view]


(7) Boeung Kak Alternative Planning
[click to view]

(3) Boeung Kak Area Drainage and Flooding Assessment
[click to view]

(1) Licadho, 2009 The Myth of development
[click to view]

Cambodia Development Watch on the Lease Agreement
[click to view]


Wikipedia on Boeung Kak (the name of area after making it a land area)
[click to view]

Licadho (human rights NGO) on the Boeung Kak Lake conflict
[click to view]

(2) Inclusive Development International: Boeung Kak Lake Evictions
[click to view]

(4) LICADHO Beating and arrest of 11 Boeung Kak lake villagers and children
[click to view]

(5) The Guardian - Phnom Penh residents score landmark victory over proposed land grab
[click to view]

(6) The Phnom Penh Post - Boeung Kak land deal not yet sealed
[click to view]

(8) Reuters - Cambodia agrees land deal after World Bank halts loans
[click to view]

Media Links

Trailer of The Cause of Progress - Boeung Kak lake
[click to view]

Documentary on the case, produced by LICADHO on request of the affected communities
[click to view]

Other Documents

Boeung Kak Lake 2003 - 2014 Turning a wetland into an urban area
[click to view]

Torn down houses Cleared area around the lake, in May 2011
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorScheidel, A. (ICTA-UAB) arnim.scheidel "at"
Last update17/02/2015