Community Organizing for Housing Rights

Community Organizing for Housing Rights

Our Community Organizing for Housing Rights (COHR) Program, launched in 2013, works to organize urban poor communities in Phnom Penh and motivate them to secure their land and housing rights through collective action. The COHR Program contributes to a long-term effort to build a strong Phnom Penh community federation to defend and advance housing rights in Cambodia’s capital city.

At the heart of our COHR program are our professionally trained community organizers, a team of more than a dozen individuals who come from neighborhoods throughout Phnom Penh to make a difference across their city. Equipped with theory-based training and ongoing mentorship from our partners at Leaders and Organizers of Community Organizations in Asia (LOCOA), our COHR staff ventures daily to motivate communities to advocate for themselves.

EC’s COHR team works in 20 communities across the city, and have successfully built community networks in the tenure-insecure areas of Stung Meanchey Canal, the Phnom Penh portion of the state rail system, and Boeung Tumpon Lake.

Why Organize?
As Phnom Penh continues to grow at a rapid pace, land within the city is an increasingly valuable commodity, and a growing population requires expanded public works like highways and other infrastructure.

For poor and middle class families in the way of such development, however, even a land title has meant little to developers and government officials. Residents are often evicted, undercompensated, or not compensated at all.

By empowering communities to advocate for themselves through building and binding individuals into small community groups, and organized networks, these residents can demand for government to address issues in their communities — and even affect the course of the developments to preserve their homes and way of life.

What We Train
Since the program’s inception, EC’s community organizers have pioneered the latest techniques in uniting people toward becoming more socially and politically aware and mobilizing for municipal and national development policies that respect the rights of the poor. Once our organizers integrate into a community, they focus training on the following areas:

- Participatory leadership and facilitation skills
- Land law and relevant government regulations
- Housing rights
- Advocacy skills
- Negotiation skills
- Participatory community mapping and enumerations
- Personal security