Co-operative living space
proposed for Cambodia floating refugee
Outlook of Chohchat floating shelter
Existence of floating villages
Ethnic Vietnamese are the largest minority group in Cambodia, comprising nearly 50,000 families, or more than 180,000 people, according to government data. Most are stateless, as they are not citizens in Cambodia or Vietnam, and face “significant barriers” in accessing education, healthcare, formal employment, freedom-to- go movement, and owning properties.
In recent years, thousands of ethnic Vietnamese families have been repatriated to Vietnam. Those who were moved from the water are in settlements that lack adequate housing, drinking water and toilets, according to human rights groups.
They didn’t choose to make their houses on their river, it was forced upon them by their dire circumstances and lack of rights. They don’t have the legal right to buy property so they live on the water in fragile homes, exposed to the elements and to health risks.They are nor better off on the land either, because they are not welcome there.
Cambodia is not a signatory of the 1954 Stateless Persons Convention that grants the right to education, employment, housing, travel documents and administrative assistance.
A floating population of 60,000,000, more than twice as many as live on land.
“They live on the water in fragile homes, exposed to the elements and to health risks. They are not better off on the land either, because they are not welcome there.”
Why looking into floating settlements
Their mode of liviing is not a new thing. Built around tradition and knowledge passed down from generations - often independent from government control - these villages are commonly “informal” or unplanned settlements.
Each individual family functions independently concerned with their own needs and sustainability. But on a larger scale, a seemingly ‘self- organized’ community emerges.
“They did not choose to make their houses on the river. It was forced upon them by their dire circumstances and lack of rights. They do not have the legal right to buy property.”
In 2018, one of my friends who works as a journalist went to Vietnam for traveling. She shared the shocking story about how local floating refugees use their floating structures and river scene as attractions for tourism. The photos she sent left me with strong impacts and inspired me to start learning more than the environment I live in.
Setting creating a temporary, transitional environment as a goal is not enough while
considering emergency shelter in response to so many situations from natural disasters, to urban homelessness.
In order to create a heightened awareness in humanitarian and ecological issues, I believe "community" is the most efficient solution with the warmth it brings and boding it builds. It is challenging but also worth to keep exploring how to involve it for present and forward thinking scenarios.
Chohchat is a co-operative living space proposed as assistance for floating refugee communities located in Cambodia. Chohchat encourages sharing of activities and infrastructure to help build up community relationships and provide the space and storage for activities and shared belongings.