According to bank documents, the project aims to reduce the impacts of natural hazards in Cambodia by improving climate resilient rural road connectivity in provinces, disaster risk assessment and financing, and contingent emergency response. The project is part of the World Bank’s South East Asia Disaster Risk Management (SEA DRM) Project in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
The project components entail upgrading rural roads and strengthening the preparedness of surrounding communities including the rehabilitation and maintenance of about 250 km along the Mekong and Tonle Sap that have been regularly damaged by floods; development of resilient roads design, construction, and maintenance guidelines, support of quality control through field laboratories, and upgrade of the rural road inventory and improve road asset management. The project will support governments to implement national disaster risk finance strategy and to access premium sovereign disaster risk insurance for 3 years such as Southeast Asia Disaster Resilience Insurance Fund (SEADRIF) or the World Bank Treasury.
BANK RISK ASSESSMENT
According to bank documents, the following World Bank environmental and social safeguard policies have been triggered by the project:
• Environmental Assessment OP/BP 4.01 - triggered because “impacts will be limited to dust, noise, household business disturbance, sourcing if materials, and waste during construction” in specific construction sites.
• Natural Habitats OP/BP 4.04 – triggered because “the proposed road strengthening could have some impacts on nearby habitats, wildlife corridors, wetlands, or river basins.”
• Indigenous Peoples OP/BP10 - triggered because “preliminary assessment suggests that ethnic minorities are present in Stung Treng and Kratie, and potentially in small numbers in other provinces. They may be directly or indirectly impacted by the proposed project.”
• Physical Cultural Resources OP/BP 4.11- triggered because “[t]here is a possibility that physical cultural resources could be found during eventual construction of infrastructure that is to be studied and designed through this project, especially in the indigenous people’s areas.”
• Involuntary Resettlement OP/BP 4.12 – triggered because “land acquisition and structure relocation are expected to be minor and temporary […] The project may impact shops and small business along the roads. “
OUR RISK ASSESSMENT
There is very limited information on the project and sub-projects at the time of writing. However, based on publicly available information, the following human rights may be impacted by the project:
• Right to Property and Adequate Housing: The project would cause “potential damage to private property and community infrastructure.” The bank documents mentioned the minor relocation of building include roof structures and concrete floors from shops and houses and the possibility of removing crops and trees along the road alignment and right of way. Land acquisition may require for the construction of roadway ditches and drainage improvement. Temporary relocation is possible or even voluntary land donation will be considered. The land acquisition will be identified during the project implementation.
• Right to a Healthy Environment: The implementation of road rehabilitation may cause flood, dust, noise and disrupt wildlife corridors, wetlands, or river basins near the construction sites, potentially impacting the right to a healthy environment
• Right to Water: Bank documents stated that the construction of the project may change the water flow from one side to the other and “can result in flooding on one side of the road and water shortages on the other one, altering vegetation and associated ecosystems” Locals expressed concerns regarding “the lack of water for livestock, homestead gardens and potable water during the dry season.”
• Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Potential damages from relocation of households, damage to community infrastructure and interaction of construction workers may affect local indigenous peoples. Proposed sub-projects may impact loss of access to resources. Indigenous Peoples in sub-projects area expressed concerns for the natural resource extraction if roads are improved and that may lead to deforestation, wildlife trading, loss of wildlife and fishery.
• Right to Freedom of Association and Assembly: According to recent press in Cambodia, the Law on Associations and Non-Governmental Organizations appears to be restricting the legitimate activities of civil society and human rights defenders in violation of the right to freedom of association. This right is protected by international human rights instruments to which Cambodia is a party, as well as by the country’s Constitution.
According to the bank documents, the first Public Consultation meeting was held on 10 June 2016 with attendance of government decision-makers, CSOs representatives to discuss objectives, TOR, and timeline for the Environmental and Social Management Framework(ESMF). During the week of June 13-17, 2016 consultations to inform the draft ESMF, IPPF and RPF were held in Tboung Khmum and Kratie provinces. The second public consultation was planned for August 2016. Upon formulation of sub-projects, additional consultation will be held with local authorities and different populations who are likely to be directly or indirectly affected.
PROJECT-LEVEL GRIEVANCE MECHANISM
The grievance redress committee(s) at provincial, district and commune levels will be set up by the provincial authority and headed by provincial governor, chief of district and chief of commune. At the commune level, the membership will be from representatives from affected households. For indigenous communities, the village level committees will be formed with unique decision making structures of individual indigenous communities that subject to a process of free, prior and informed consultation. The grievances will be handled through negotiation to achieve consensus. Complaints have option of going through four stages; village, commune, district level and provincial grievance redress committee, before being elevated to a court of law as a last resort.
Sources for this EWS analysis:
On LANGO and the increasing restrictions on human rights defenders: