Rights Based Approaches to Micro-Credit

Famers on their land destroyed by floods-Battambang-Photo Charlotte Pert

Famers on their land destroyed by floods-Battambang-Photo Charlotte Pert

Mu Sochua calls on micro-finance institutions to put in place special terms for flood affected farmers. Baseline protection of human rights otherwise threatened by repayment pressures in the wake of devastating flood damage, must be established. The impact of indebtedness on families is severe, and given trends for borrowing linked not only to farming but also to healthcare, there is a need to take urgent action to relieve pressure on the flood affected population and renegotiate repayment terms.

Based on data from the Humanitarian Assistance 377,354 households are affected, with the actual number of 1,735,828 people majority of whom are women and children. Expressing further concern for the vulnerability of displaced people as a result of not only the floods but land foreclosures, Mu Sochua also says, “People are starting to leave for Thailand to find work to pay loans or to escape payments–the real number of people leaving for Thailand is still unknown.”

Micro-credit institutions should not further compound the vulnerability of flood affected farmers and their families, in particular households run by women and people with disabilities. Taking into consideration the affect of the stress of indebtedness and the threat of removal of valuable assets from vulnerable people, it is firmly suggested that further stressors placed on people already facing destruction to homes and livelihoods be remediated as a matter of urgency. The proposal is to refocus attention on a rights based approach to development, which concentrates on re-establishing access to food, health and shelter, protecting family life and livelihoods as critical safety nets.

This call is specifically to:
Waive loan repayments for 6 months and
Lower interest rates to 1% for one year, to allow for repairs and reconstruction
Remove threats of land and asset foreclosure

These measures are crucial, to allow for recovery, repair and reconstruction, and not to compound vulnerability further.

Mu Sochua has been spending time with flood affected people, and is here expressing their expressed concerns. She has been meeting with international aid organisations and continues to do so, and hopes for a negotiation of new terms which will allow farmers to build back livelihoods and protect their families. Last month in a letter to World Vision Cambodia, Mu Sochua expressed her gratitude for the invaluable support provided so far to those affected—including the water bottles, water purification packs, rubbish collections points, latrines, water containers, and the creation of child-friendly spaces. Here, she expresses her gratitude for the continued support for Cambodians from the members of the Humanitarian Assistance Forum. To World Vision, she stressed the importance of allowing people to make repairs and rebuild livelihoods to a point at which they are able generate an income again, and asked for support from the organisation in helping communities to navigate the situation, by implementing payment waivers and forgoing the usual penalties from defaults. Here, she extends this call to other lenders.

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