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GMS Road Network Improvement Project of the Railway in Cambodia

Highway One Improvement Project_1st GMS


Road Network Improvement Project




Asian Development Fund

$ 70.00 million



In December 1998, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a $40-million loan from the Royal Government of Cambodia to rehabilitate the 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 the mobilization of people, goods, and services.

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

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 to 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, 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:


  • Loss of land and structures;

  • Loss of livelihoods;

  • Damages to female-headed, handicapped, and low-income households;

  • Compensation delays and indebtedness;

  • Community disintegration and disharmony with a host community; and

  • 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 noncompliance with 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 the land title for the 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.


Photo © Mekong Watch

Read other related studies

  1. Report on the field survey on the resettlement impacts caused by the National Road 1 improvement project

  2. Report on Field Survey  of People Affected by National Highway 1 Improvement Project -  Neak Leung to Bavet

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