Kampong Thom provincial governor Sok Lou has designated nearly 2,000ha as social land concessions to distribute to veterans who lack land.

This land distribution is for the purpose of improving people’s livelihoods by enabling them to grow agricultural products as a family.

Lou and his officials inspected the actual location of the land in Kroya commune’s Tra Peang Russey village of Santuk district to divide the land into plots and conduct a land lottery for the soon-to-be-arriving veterans.

The provincial governor said he has prepared about 300ha of social land concessions out of a total area of 1,978ha to be distributed in the first phase.

“We already have a social land concession prepared for distribution to homeless veterans. As a first step, we will distribute more than 300ha to 153 families.

“We have done a lot of this work under the guidance of His Excellency Kun Kim, secretary-general of the Cambodian Veteran’s Association,” he said.

According to the governor, the lottery draw could take place next month and each family would receive an equal size land plot. He also warned anyone else who is still encroaching on land in the area to withdraw and return it to the state immediately.

“In the past, we designated that land as a social land concession. But because we hadn’t yet sent anyone to mark out the land borders, there are some people and traders who continue to encroach on the land,” he said.

He emphasised that the allocation of this social land concession was not the first time it had ever occurred. In the past, he said the state had often given social land concessions to groups of people who lacked land, not just to veterans.

Sok Ratha, the provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, told The Post that his association has always supported the government’s policy on livelihood issues and poverty reduction. He considers the distribution of social land concessions a good thing and said the government should work diligently to address the needs of poor people.

“This social land concession gives [the veterans] real land to build houses and land to farm to provide for their families as well as participate in local development,” he said.

However, he also urged the government to build infrastructure in the concession area as well as provide land to people in real need.

“The state should properly equip it with infrastructure like electricity and water and buildings for health posts and police stations because those are basic requirements. If they lack this infrastructure it will be difficult to live there.

“We are also concerned that the truly poor will not receive social land concessions,” he said.

According to Lou, those who receive this social land concession will get a legal title if they come to live and farm on the land for five years or more. The social land concession is the legal mechanism for the transfer of state private land to people who lack land for housing and farming in order to improve the living standards of these citizens.