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The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.

News: Debt, climate change and Cambodia's 'blood bricks'

Atith stokes the fire of a kiln at night to minimise the extreme temperatures he faces. Workers experience severe dehydration, heat exhaustion, and even premature death.
This photograph is the original work of Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom. © 2018 Royal Holloway, University of London.


Findings from the ESRC-DFID funded project Blood bricks: examining the climate change-modern slavery nexus in the Cambodian construction industry have recently been shared in The Highland Times and Made in China Journal.  

How Climate Change Led to Cambodia's Blood Bricks, The Highland Times, 09 May 2019

The urban boom in Cambodia's Phnom Penh is literally built on 'blood bricks' – an industry relying on a form of modern slavery, with a multigenerational workforce of adults and children trapped in debt bondage. This article dicusses the recent research, funded through the ESRC-DFID Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation Research, which has explored connections between climate change and severe forms of labour exploitation, deepening understanding and strengthening awareness of these interlinked issues.

Read the full article here

The article was originally posted by ESRC here

Descending into Debt in Cambodia, Milford Bateman, Nithya Natarajan, Katherine Brickell and Laurie Parsons, Made in China Journal, Volume 4, Issue 1, Smashing the Bell Jar: Shades of Gender in China, pp. 107-113

Cambodia today is the site of one of the world’s largest microcredit sectors. While it is widely believed that the extension of microcredit to Cambodia’s poor should be cause for all-round celebration, this essay reveals disquieting evidence of a deeply problematic development intervention. Indebted to microcredit institutions, increasing numbers of Cambodia’s poor population have been forced to accept exploitative labour conditions in the garment and construction industry, driven to despair due to the loss of their land, and, in the worst cases, had no choice but to ‘sell’ themselves as bonded labour to brick kilns owners.

Read the essay in full here