Poverty reduction has become a worldwide promise, yet the term itself has been commonly abused to legitimize development policies and projects with truly questionable impacts on the poor. This article critically reflects on how claims of poverty reduction through agricultural development have been turned into tactics of land capture in Cambodia. Concrete tactics reviewed here include: an abuse of a poverty crisis to legitimize the capitalist transformation of vast small-farmer landscapes; the simplification of multidimensional poverty to reductionist income and employment approaches; a systematic overestimation of project benefits to claim benefits for the public good; a systematic underestimation of negative project impacts through impact assessments to conceal deterioration of the public good; and procedural tactics to influence land allocation patterns across Economic and Social Land Concessions. A critical analysis of such processes is necessary to understand how development policies and projects can further produce multidimensional poverty, leaving behind vast landscapes of dispossession.
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