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Photographer's Note

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* The following quotation is from “Kambodžan Tonle Sap-jδrven sosioekonominen tutkimus“ by Doctor Marko Keskinen, professor of Helsinki University of Technology, Water Resources Laboratory, Finland. His contact-address: marko.keskinen@hut.fi. Words boldfaced by photographer.



Vietnamese in Tonle Sap Great Lake


A large amount of the population in the Tonle Sap Area live in severe poverty and depend solely on natural resources for their survival. Cambodia Human Development Report 1999 reveals that the Tonle Sap Area has the highest incidence of poverty within all the regions in Cambodia. This is actually surprising when considering the abundance of natural resources around the lake. However, access to natural resources is very unequal and land tenure insufficient. For example, the proportion of landless rural households in Cambodia is highest in the Tonle Sap Area. As a result, natural resources are a source for conflict for individuals and groups competing for access to them. Poverty, combined with growing population pressure and unequal access to land and natural resources, has led to the overexploitation of and an alarming decrease in natural resources. Furthermore, unrest and violence particularly in the western part of the lake has calmed only recently. Hence the provinces in the area have also faced a steady flow of returning migration.

The main ethnic minority populations in Cambodia are the Cham, the Chinese, the Vietnamese and the Khmer Loeu. The Khmer Loeu are indigenous hill tribes and the only minority group that does not appear in the Tonle Sap Area. Of the four minority groups, the plight of the Vietnamese is usually complicated, since they are often regarded as foreign residents, not Cambodian citizens.

Of the main ethnic minorities in the Tonle Sap Area, the Vietnamese seem to be the most vulnerable minority group in terms of livelihood. They are most dependent on fishing, do not usually own any land and suffer also from widespread discrimination and prejudice.

Out of the main ethnic minorities in the Tonle Sap Area, the situation of the Vietnamese is the most contradictory. The Vietnamese are normally residing in floating villages and have often lived in the area for generations. Ethnic Vietnamese who have resided in Cambodia for extended periods are sometimes distinguished from recent Vietnamese immigrants by calling them Khin.

(To be continued in “Discussions” below)



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