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Affordable Housing in Cambodia: The Role of Non-Governmental Organizations in Housing Post-1980

2019 | Personal

Co-authored by Anna Lazenby. Included in Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies' symposium "In Pursuit of Equitable Development: Lessons from Washington, Detroit and Boston" 

This independent research project was conducted with Anna Lazenby and funded by a grant through the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. The research aimed to analyze the unique challenges of affordable housing in Cambodia, and to understand the role and contributions of non-governmental organizations in providing housing and services in Cambodia. The research fills a gap in existing literature— personal accounts of Khmer people critically analyzing their own situations and work in policy and housing stock. While the report focuses on housing in Cambodia, its discussion regarding how NGOs interact with government parties, the importance of tenure, and the necessity of the human perspective in this line of work are relevant across the globe.
To understand NGOs’ roles, the study was designed to incorporate two weeks in Cambodia asking NGOs firsthand. Supplemental to interviews, the study examined national housing trends and statistics as well as documentation and academic studies relating to other NGOs’ contributions. As a result, the study explained the major role NGOs play in building housing and providing services, influencing national housing policy, influencing national and local land policy, responding to community and identity, and providing opportunity for Khmer people. The study found Cambodia’s political climate and restructuring post-civil war in the 1980s to be integral to issues of housing, leading NGOs to step up in order to fill a gap in housing provision for low-income Khmer people.
The study found that foreign investment and private development tended to dominate market rate housing, serving both foreigners and higher income Khmer people. With minimal government-provided or subsidized housing, NGOs predominantly occupied the low-income housing sphere, addressing the gaps in national and private housing investment and providing shelter and services for those living below the globally recognized poverty line. All NGOs interviewed agreed that their role was to be both long-term and necessary for the current and future Cambodian housing conditions.

The full report can be found on issuu.

The introduction to the report can be found below. 

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