Phnom Penh poor uprooted as lakes filled in for malls, flats

Lay Sremeth and her family have lived on a narrow stretch of land by Phnom Penh’s Boeung Tompoun lake for three decades, fishing in its water and growing rice on its bank.

But shortly after authorities approved filling in parts of the lake with sand and mud 10 years ago to build malls and apartments, they could not fish or farm anymore.

Now, with just a few swampy areas left, Lay Sremeth and her neighbors fear losing their homes as they do not have titles. A giant commercial complex under construction already dwarfs the modest wood and tin homes of the community of more than 60 families, and flooding has increased during the rainy season, damaging their homes, Lay Sremeth said.

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