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Boeung Kak Lake Evictions in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

In 2007, a property development company started to fill the lake with sand with the aim to “make land” for luxury property development in central urban Phnom Penh. Evictions of at least nine villages were completed by 2017.


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
Name of conflict:Boeung Kak Lake Evictions in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Location of conflict:Phnom 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 commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

133ha 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:133
Level of Investment for the conflictive project79,000,000
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:15,000-20,000
Start of the conflict:01/03/2007
End of the conflict:2017
Company names or state enterprises:D’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 actors:Lao Meng Khin, (Cambodian People’s Party)
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:National 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
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
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
Other Health impactsSuicide due to survival threats
Socio-economical 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
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Criminalization of activists
Land demarcation
New legislation
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
Proposal and development of alternatives:An 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Project goes on, while most families have been evicted.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

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]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

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

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

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

Cambodia Development Watch on the Lease Agreement
[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]

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

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

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

(9) Boeung Kak: A Disastrous Decade
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

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

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

Meta information
Contributor:Scheidel, A. (ICTA-UAB) arnim.scheidel "at"
Last update17/02/2015
Conflict ID:1712
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