From Sea to City: Migration and Social Well-Being in Coastal Cambodia

Part of the The Urban Book Series book series (UBS)


Small-scale fishing communities along Cambodia’s coast have relied on marine resources as a mainstay of their livelihood for many decades. However, in the past 10 to 15 years, environmental change, increased fishing pressure, illegal, underreported, and unregulated fishing, and sand mining have contributed to a progressive decline in their catch. At the same time, economic opportunities outside the coastal village have acted as a draw and catalyzed migration to secondary cities and to the capital. This study examines out-migration of people from coastal communities to the city of Koh Kong. Using qualitative data collected from three fishing villages, I explore why people leave and why others stay in the village. In the context of city provisioning systems, the study also reveals a shift in climate-related vulnerability for coastal village migrants when they become urban residents. The study highlights the importance of looking not only at city planning, infrastructure challenges, and climate risks but also at the attendant social effects that phenomena such as migration have on people who are increasingly on the move. Such a perspective offers a more people-centred understanding of urban climate resilience in Cambodia, and potentially for other countries across Southeast Asia.


Coastal fisheries Cambodia Social well-being Migration 



I thank the editors of this volume for their comments and feedback, along with a very helpful and constructive review by Melissa Marschke and Yanjun Cai. This work was supported by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the International Development Research Centre.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of International Development and Global StudiesUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada

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