The Context for Development.


The silk growers, weaver, villagers all operate in a society which is just beginning to come out of about 25 years of civil war. Even as you read this there is still fighting going on in the north-west of Cambodia. The heaviest fighting reported in April of 1996 is in the Battambang and Banteay Meancheay regions. Some of the silk growers live close to or in this area. This web site doesn't really address the huge issue of the impact of land-mines on the Cambodian people, it doesn't talk about the impact of the legacy of the Khmer Rouge genocide, the years of Vietnamese occupation, the developments that made the UN sponsored elections possible in 1993 or the problems Cambodia is experiencing today as it rebuilds its civil society. But all of these events, goals and aspirations have a direct impact on the efforts of those involved in silk and craft production.

The main problems faced to develop the silk industry in Cambodia, and maybe to develop any industry in Cambodia for that matter, are:

1. The transportation infrastructure.

Route No. 6. This road is notorious for Khmer Rouge and bandit activity, as well as wayward government soldiers on check points. It is also full of pot holes and takes about three hours to travel 100km.

2. War

On going civil war undermines people's confidence and means that mines continue to be lain. If mine laying were stopped today there would be a mine for every woman, man and child in Cambodia. Every week 1000 more victims of mine accidents are reported. The human cost and legacy of these weapons will continue to be felt for generations to come. As the civil war continues so civilians continue to be forced from their homes and fields. There are around 200,000 displaced persons to deal with in the north west of Cambodia. This presents a huge humanitarian and financial problem for the relief agencies and for the Cambodian government, as well as the tragedy of so many families who try again and again to obtain some semblance of stability in their lives.

3. Democracy building

The two main political parties , maintain a visible presence in villages like Phnom Srok.

4. Incorporating modernity and becoming part of the global market

This Shell gas station is a symbol of a modern era. It is a great place to meet and a popular weekend hangout. Shell and other oil interests are hoping to exploit oil reserves off the Cambodian coast line.

5. The environmental impact of unrestricted and illeagal logging

These pictures are of logs and sawn timber, headed to the port of Shianoukville after the official ban on logging was declared.

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Last updated on April 17, 1996. © 1996 Katharine Wardle