Across the rapidly developing city of Phnom Penh, poor, landless urban communities face not only threats of eviction but also numerous health and sanitation issues. One such community is the Boeung Trabek, which lives alongside a sewage canal of the same name in Sangkat Phsa Deum Thkov, in the heart of Phnom Penh.
The canal transports rainwater and human waste to flooded fields and wetlands south of the city. The community is located downstream, in an area where surfaced pavements give way to an almost natural embankment. Here, where shallow water mixes with decomposing material, a cluster of stilt houses rises above the toxic sludge. It's estimated that around 400 people live in these and other makeshift shacks along the banks of the canal. They are at the mercy of the rise and fall of flood waters – which damage homes and increase susceptibility to disease – but also rapid urban development which threatens the precarious conditions in which the urban poor live.
The government blames increased flooding in the region on the community's growth, but at the same time insisted on filling Lake Boeung Trabek to stimulate commercial development.
The community lives under constant threat of eviction. Although it organized itself for the first time in 1999, it has never received land titles and the settlement is still considered illegal today.
The photo story is part of the series VANISHING CAMBODIA, which photographer Steff Gruber has been working on for a number of years and which examines the social changes taking place in the country.
Camera (digital): Nikon Z9 with Nikkor-Z zoom lens 24-70mm/2.8