Highway One project

In December 1998, the ADB approved a $40-million loan for the Royal Government of Cambodia for the rehabilitation of a 105.5-km portion of the Highway One (also known as HW1). The road project aimed to boost both domestic and regional economies by accelerating mobilization of people, and goods and services.

According to documents of the ADB, it would minimize displacement of local villagers by realigning the road trace and constructing a by-pass to avoid densely populated areas, resulting in relocation of a few households within the construction site.


However, the ADB failed to prevent the Cambodian government from relocating around 1,500 households living along Highway 1. According to reports, the government devalued structures owned by villagers and did not pay them sufficient compensation to enable them rebuild their homes and restore their livelihoods. Small-scale businesses, such as sales stalls along HW1, stopped operation when project implementation started. Local groups said an estimated 7,000 Cambodians became worse off because of the project.

Mekong Watch and Conservation and Development on Cambodia (CDCam) site the negative impacts of the project which include:

   1. Loss of land and structures;
   2. Loss of livelihoods;
   3. Damages to female-headed, handicapped, and low-income households;
   4. Compensation delays and indebtedness;
   5. Community disintegration and disharmony with a host community; and
   6. Intimidation by authorities.

Local groups attribute said negative impacts to the failure of the ADB; specifically for approved and sub-standard resettlement plan proposed by the government that was not in compliance with ADB’s policies and procedures.

According to them, some of the affected families had to wait for five years before the ADB and the government conducted a resettlement audit. The audit confirmed the project’s negative impacts and ADB’s non-compliance of its policies and procedures and recommended compensation to the affected families.

In 2006, six years after the relocation, many households finally received compensation for their lost lands and structures. But according to reports, as of April 2007, many villagers are still facing problems, such as not being able to obtain land title for security of tenure, raise funds to restore their livelihoods, and earn enough money to pay back high-interest loan resulting from delays in compensation payment. Likewise, around 200 families claimed that they have not received fair and just compensation for loss of land and structures.


One Bumpy Highway: Interview with Ek Vendara

Related Documents

Updates on Highway One Project (Powerpoint Presentation), March 2008
Letter to the ADB Board re: formation of the Sub-Decree on resettlement in Cambodia, October 2007
SPF Review and Assessment Report on Highway One Project, October 2007
Report on the Special Projects Facilitator's visit, September 2007

Resident Mission reply to NGO Forum on Cambodia re: resettlement audit, June 2005

ADB Project Documents

OED's evaluation report on the Highway One Project, December 2008
Project Completion Report, December 2007
Phase 1 Resettlement Audit Report, January 2006
Phase 2 Resettlement Audit Report, May 2008
NGO Concerns about resettlement, 2005
Report and recommendation of the ADB president to the Board of Directors, November 1998

Photo Gallery

Road and railway projects, January 2009
Cambodia skillshare workshop, June 2008

Partner Organizations

Conservation and Development on Cambodia (CDCam)
Mekong Watch
NGO Forum on Cambodia

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