The Indian Ocean World Podcast

Micro-Financing Rural Cambodia: Loans, Debt, and Climate Change

March 25, 2022

What does it mean when we talk about micro-financing the rural economy? And how does micro-financing apply to Cambodia? These questions are explored by Professor W. Nathan Green, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at the National University of Singapore.  Prof. Green’s research critically examines the political ecologies of agrarian finance and infrastructure in Southeast Asia, with a particular focus on Cambodia. By combining his economic, geographical, and ethnographic study of rural Cambodia, Prof. Green paints us a vivid picture of the development of Cambodian loan and borrowing structures, while delving into the risks associated with having one’s land in collateral. Since the 1980s, micro-financing has been essential to Cambodia’s rise out of the economic and humanitarian turmoil inflicted by the Pol Pot regime. But, as climate change continues to impact the stability of Cambodia and the rest of the world, vulnerabilities amongst those dwelling in this ‘borrowers’ economy have become increasingly noticeable. As is stated by Prof. Green, vulnerability to climate change goes beyond the natural environment to encapsulate structural drivers of vulnerability like political empowerment, the ability to make decisions over one’s own land, entitlements to resources, etc. Rising household indebtedness in Cambodia due to its micro-financing scheme is a major driver of household vulnerability.

To learn more about Prof Green, check out his academic page here: https://profile.nus.edu.sg/fass/geowng/

This podcast was produced with the help of Renée Manderville (Project Manager, IOWC; English Common Law, University of Ottawa) and Philip Gooding (postdoctoral fellow, IOWC, McGill).

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