©Alejandro Montes_UN-Habitat

Phnom Penh, 09 May 2018 – An international competition to design 3,000 units of modern and affordable homes, for low-income workers within and nearby the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone, kicks off today.

The winning design will result in the development of a community that meets the basic needs of its residents, including amenities and features such as stores, cafes, a day care centre, a clinic, and parks. The winner will receive a cash prize of US $20,000, and the second to fifth place winners will each receive US $5,000.  

The competition that is open to everyone expects to attract both national and international design professionals, engineers, architects, as well as students specializing in those fields.

The goal of the contest is to improve the social, environmental and economic well-being of Cambodia’s Special Economic Zones. It is being hosted by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Plc and Building Trust International.

“The Special Economic Zones (SEZs) play an important role in helping boost and sustain Cambodia’s economic development because they serve as economic hubs for foreign direct investment, technology transfer, and trade,” raised by Hiroshi Uematsu, Chief Executive Officer of the Phnom Penh SEZ Plc. “More importantly, they create much needed jobs.”

According to the World Bank, Cambodia’s economic growth is projected at 6.9% in 2018, following an annual average rate of 7.7% in the last two decades. Yet, such rapid growth needs to be sustainable and inclusive, fulfilling the country’s obligation under the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development.   

Nick Beresford, Country Director for UNDP in Cambodia, says that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require a transition from Special Economic Zones to Sustainable SEZs, places that are greener, cleaner, more efficient, and offering much needed services to local communities in and around the zones. Many of the SDGs’ targets are embedded in the SEZs, such as renewable energy, waste management, decent employment, and especially affordable housing.

Rapid urbanization has led to an influx of low-income workers into Phnom Penh, placing a heavy demand on the city to build affordable and sustainable housing, to provide them and their families decent housing.

“I left my family to work as a factory worker in Phnom Penh 10 years ago.” said Yang Chenda, a 31-year-old female worker. “I always dream that in the future, I will be able to live with my family in a proper shelter, with enough food to eat,” she added.

The collaboration between the Phnom Penh SEZ Plc and UNDP focuses on creating sustainable SEZs. Phnom Penh SEZ is the first to undergo the transformation. With a total land area of 357 hectares, it currently employs 17,000 people, and most of them are female factory workers.  

“The Affordable Housing Design Challenge is a key part of the transformation through a design of a sustainable and affordable housing community in the Phnom Penh SEZ. It will provide low-income workers with an opportunity to have a decent living with their family,” mentioned by David Cole, Director of Building Trust International. “The result of the competition will help make a dream of many low-income workers like Yang Chenda come true.”

More information about the Affordable Housing Design Challenge can be found here

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