International Development Planning Review

Uncovering the individual/collective divide in planning responses to informal settlements as a structural cause of tenure insecurity in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

International Development Planning Review Ahead of print, 1–24.


Cambodia is a country that has received large investments of international aid to secure the land and housing rights of informal dwellers. Most investments have been directed towards funding a market-led formalisation programme known as the Land Management and Administration Program (LMAP) to stimulate land markets without critical consideration of the complex power relationships that characterise the access to secure land by the urban poor in this context. By presenting a case study of one informal settlement in Phnom Penh this paper addresses structural problems with the implementation of the LMAP including the exclusion of informal settlements from the land registry and the earmarking of public land for future development. The paper reveals another layer of complexity by explaining the implications of the individual model of the programme in the collective support networks of the urban poor and their own capacities to resist forced and market-led evictions. The paper argues that a space should be opened for collective action in informal settlement upgrading and land formalisation programmes to address the structural causes of tenure insecurity in Phnom Penh.

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Author details

Brugman, Johanna