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Removing the Threat of Landmines in Cambodia Brings in Millions in Increased Land Values

Cambodia Investment Review

Cambodia has seen a significant increase in land values after clearing landmines, according to a recent study by the UNDP in Cambodia. The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) and the HALO Trust, with funding from various donors, cleared 121 minefields in 2018, totaling 520.44 hectares.

The cleared land, which had an average price of $1,397 per hectare before clearance, saw its value increase to an average of $9,701 per hectare after clearance. This represents a staggering 694% increase in land value.

Cambodia Investment Review reporter Gareth Johnson tests the demining equipment.

This means that if the cleared land was sold before mine clearance, it would have brought in a total of $669,345. However, after clearance, the same land could be sold for a total value of $4,649,417. This financial gain does not take into account the cleared land that was subsequently used for road and housing construction, as well as risk reduction efforts.

The collection of socio-economic data from the 121 cleared minefields was carried out from June to July 2019 by the Mine Action Planning Unit (MAPU) of Banteay Meanchey. The collected data was quality checked by the Socio-Economic Planning and Database Department (SEPD) of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) prior to its analysis and interpretation, the report stated.

Generating revenue from demined land

The increase in land value is likely influenced by the overall increase in land prices in the area in recent years, but it is important to note that funding mine clearance is an investment that directly benefits rural communities living in mine-affected areas.

“The total income generated from farming on the cleared land for just one season was $327,112, and this does not include the value of rice that was kept for household consumption or the future value of mango and cashew tree plantations,” the report found.

Furthermore, the cleared land has also allowed for the construction of 15.4 km of new roads and new housing, increasing the overall economic value of the area.

Cambodia Investment Review on a site tour at CMAA Headquarters in Phnom Penh.

Read more: Humanitarian and economic benefits commemorated in 30th anniversary of demining activities in Cambodia (Video)

A combined annual price tag of approximately $30 million a year, is stated in the 2016 “Finishing the Job” report commissioned by the UN Development Programme, which, according to the Council for Development of Cambodia, represented demining funding at almost 10 percent of Cambodia’s total annual aid grants between 2013 and 2015.

The American Chamber of Commerce recently donated $10,000 in Prey Veng making it the second mine-free province in Cambodia. It is esteemed that it will cost an additional $300 million to have the country fully de-mined by 2025.

Economic benefits of demining the Kingdom

Cambodia has been dealing with the devastating effects of landmines since the late 1960s, as a result of internal and regional conflicts. The country is heavily affected by explosive remnants of war (ERW) due to aerial bombing and ground battles.

It was originally estimated that between four and six million landmines were laid during conflicts, and these mines and ERW have continued to threaten and injure affected populations, both military and civilian, with over 65,000 mine/ERW casualties recorded in the national database from 1979 to 2022.

Investing in mine clearance and demining activities is not only important for ensuring the safety and well-being of affected communities, but it also offers a clear economic benefit, as seen in the drastic increase in land values. As Cambodia continues to work towards a mine-free future, it is vital that funding for mine clearance efforts is sustained and increased.

Senior Minister & First Vice President of Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) H.E. Ly Thuch and Cambodia Investment Review reporter Gareth Johnson.

Read more: Leader talks with H.E. Ly Thuch on the economic benefits of a mine free Cambodia

Speaking to Cambodia Investment Review previously, Senior Minister & First Vice President of Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority H.E. Ly Thuch commented that: “Removing one mine saves one family, helps improve our economy and results in poverty reduction”.

The Kingdom has so far spent approximately $260 million on de-mining in the country, not to mention the immense amount spent by both the government and NGOs on helping mine victims and their families through direct assistance, as well as prosthetic limbs and training for future work. Money that in an ideal world could have been spent on other worthy causes.

“We have spent so much because of how important it is to improve the lives and livelihoods of our people, but sadly this is still money that has been diverted from areas such as education and healthcare, thus slowing our growth as a country,” H.E. Ly Thuch added.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has outlined the government’s plans to ensure that Cambodia becomes mine-free by 2025.

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