The $1 billion in foreign aid promised to Cambodia earlier
this month should go into the hands of the people and their communities,
addressing government policies, a community leader said Monday.
“Poverty reduction is not what the government’s policy is,”
said Sok Heng, a minority representative from Oddar Meanchey province, as a
guest on “Hello VOA.”
Joined by Ruos Han, a Kuoy minority from Kratie province,
Sok Heng urged the government to undertake better studies of land and forest
concessions before handing them over to private businesses.
Land theft and disputes have emerged as a continuous problem
in Cambodia in recent years, with minority groups especially hard hit, and both
men urged the government Monday to use the foreign aid to develop communities
to help alleviate it.
“Where more development occurs, that’s where people are
facing difficulties,” Sok Heng said.
“Without the preservation of our natural resources, our
minority community cannot survive,” Ruos Han said. Without such resources,
minorities have a very difficult time surviving, because they don’t engage in
typical businesses, he said.
After nearly 15 years of development, Cambodia remains
heavily reliant on foreign aid for its operations, and donor countries and
agencies were especially forthcoming with funding this year.
Both men said Tuesday that money does not reach its targets
and is often hard to track. Money for infrastructure, schools, clinics, seed,
canals and other agriculture was needed, they said.