Archaeology and Economic Development 2012

Community Development and Heritage: Lessons from Cambodia

After decades of conflict beginning in the 1970s and the attendant decay of the country’s infrastructure, Cambodia’s fortunes began to change with the signing of the  1991 Paris Peace Accords. Since the late 1990s Cambodia has become more politically stable and steps have been made in rebuilding civil society and government institutions. Problems, however, still exist. Aid agencies continually highlight a lack of government investment in the rural sector, high child mortality rates, poor secondary education, poor access to affordable energy, and unsustainable natural resource exploitation as well as endemic corruption. This situation has resulted in a widening gulf between rich and poor in Cambodia. It also has a negative effect on heritage as rural poverty has been linked to the destruction of archaeological sites in efforts to generate income.

This paper will explore recent attempts to combat heritage destruction in rural areas of Cambodia through a broader development approach with special attention to projects undertaken by Heritage Watch. The challenges and difficulties faced as well as the successes in the execution of these projects will be examined.

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