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A place to call home

In Battambang as part of our land rights project we are working to increase awareness of the issues around land tenure security in Cambodia.

In 2006 Ngin Savun bought a small plot of land to build a house for her family in Battambang, Cambodia. The house did not have access to the municipal water or sanitation system. During the rainy season the house would flood and water would rise to knee level. Despite the conditions, this was home and the best Ngin Savun could provide for her family.

Like many others in the area, Ngin Savun did not have a secure title to her property and was fearful that the land might be taken away from her by the government.

In 2008, Ngin Savun heard about Habitat for Humanity’s Social Land Concession Project. She began to participate and attend all of the community meetings in order to get as much information as possible on the project. That same year, with Habitat Cambodia’s help, Ngin Savun began the process of applying for a certificate for her Ngin land.

“Before Habitat came, I was hopeless about the land. When they came with the project (Social Land Concession), I could not believe that I would have the chance to keep my land secure,” Ngin Savun said.

In 2012, Ngin Savun received the certificate for her land and began constructing a new home using her savings. However, she did not have enough money to complete her new home. Fortunately, the land certificate meant that she would be able to obtain a US$ 2,500 loan from Habitat Cambodia’s micro-finance institution partner to complete the construction. Habitat for Humanity Cambodia also helped by providing Construction Technical Assistance and advice on maintaining standards in completing the project.

“I am no longer afraid. It is such a warm feeling to live in a secure home. My new house is always secure and there is no flooding,” said Ngin Savun.

Having a safe home has also had a positive impact on her children. Ngin Savun’s 13 year old daughter Kimheng now has a clean, dry and well lit space to study. She hopes to be a teacher when she grows up.

“It was very difficult to sleep when it rained in our old house,” said Kimheng, “but now I feel safe and rested every night.”

Ngin Savun is now retired but has started up a noodle shop in front of her new home, and serves a steady stream of customers each morning with the help of her older sister. Her income from this, as well as her retirement income from her previous job, means she is able to pay off her 36-month loan on schedule.

When Ngin Savun has finished paying off her loan, she has plans to make further improvements to the house and her noodle shop, such as laying a tile floor and putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls.

“Looking back now, I never thought I would get this land and be secure here. I have been able to improve our lives so much with help from Habitat, because of this project, starting my business and by getting the loan to build the house,” said Ngin Savun.

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