The Cambodian Ministry of Land Management and Urban Planning and Construction (MLUPC) recently completed detailed mapping of one village's land in the Seima Protection Forest, Mondulkiri. This step means that the registration of the indigenous communal land of Andoung Kaloeng village is now complete and paves the way for the community to become the first in mainland South-east Asia to obtain legal, communal tenure rights over its residential and farm land.
A team from the MLUPC worked long days, together with representative of the village Indigenous Tenure Commission, the Forestry Administration (FA), the provincial Department of Land and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to record accurately the position of village boundary demarcation posts. Since late 2009 hundreds of these posts have been placed in the ground around Andoung Kaloeng to mark areas officially recognised as farm land, residential land, spirit forest or grave forest. These areas have been identified through a participatory land-use planning process that started 2005.
Highly sensitive differential Global Positioning System (GPS) units were used to plot the location of each post. Unlike hand-held GPS units or sat-nav systems which can only tell you your position with a few meters, these devices determined the location of each post with an error of only a couple of centimetres. Mr Hing Mao Samath from the MLUPC's Department of Cadastral and Geography said "I have mapped areas all over Cambodia. This is the first time I have mapped village land. It is really interesting to be involved with something groundbreaking like this". The data will be recorded in the land registry and be the official boundary of the village land when the certificate is issued by the Minister in May.
WCS and the FA have been working to secure tenural rights for the people of Andoung Kraloung since 2004. The village was selected as one of three pilot villages in Cambodia for the development of communal tenure regulations. The experienced gained here has helped to frame national policies on land tenure. The process has been long and laborious but villagers and other stakeholders have remained committed. The strategy of working closely with one village and taking all the time needed has paid off. The plan is supported by all levels of government, the village has stabilised its land-use patterns and this has greatly reduced the problems with land-grabbing that have impacted on other indigenous communities. The lessons learned in Andoung Kraloeng are now being applied in other villages in the Seima Protection Forest. At least three other villages are in the later stages of the process and hope to receive their land tenure in the near future. The FA hopes that indigenous land tenure agreements, together with zonation of the Protection Forest will secure for the future the forest, its wildlife and its critically important services of nature.
This work has been supported through the Civil Society and Pro Poor Markets component of the Multi-donor Livelihood Facility, The MacArthur Foundation and GTZ. Earlier work on land tenure in Andoung Kraloung was supported by Danida, and UNDP