Cambodia - Drought in the south-east and floods in the north

News and Press Release
Originally published
Phnom Penh - - Eighteen people have died and at least 1.2 million people have been affected by drought and flood this year. An estimated 30,000 people have moved into the city for food and work to survive.
The Cambodian Prime Minister has made an appeal to all charitable agencies and individuals, UN and countries to provide food, rice seeds, medicines and other materials.

"In the name of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I hereby would like to appeal to Samdech, His Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, government officials, public service servants, national and international charitable individuals, the United Nations Agencies, International Organisations, Cambodia Red Cross Society, and non-governmental organisations for your kind assistance and participation in contributing resources for emergency relief and recovery. Priorities are food, rice seed and medicines and other materials," appealed Hun Sen, Cambodian Prime Minister and President of the National Committee for Disaster Management, in a statement of declaration on the disaster.

Drought and flood affected provinces include Battambang, Kompong Thom, Kompong Speu, Kandal, Takeo and Kompong Chhnang. It is reported that some villages benefiting from irrigation are still growing crops in Kompong Thom. People in Kompong Chhnang have requested World Vision improve water resources such as water pumps, dikes and sacks to make small dams. In World Vision's projects, people have reduced their meals and are surviving on bor bor (rice porridge). There are few vegetables left to eat. Water resources are drying up in some areas; so vegetable gardening may not be an option.

"If you walk through the villages now people say they need rice to eat, and rice seed to plant," says Min Sor, Kandal and Takeo Operation Manager.

Kompong Speu, Takeo, Kandal and Prey Veng provinces have been the worst-hit by this year's drought. Of the two million hectares of arable land in the country, only 50,000 hectares have received enough water to cultivate rice and other staples, Disaster Management Vice-President, Nhim Vanda said at the conference.

The statistics from Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) have warned that a lack of seasonal rains in many provinces could lead to severe food shortages for more than one million people, and that figure could increase. MAFF's Agronomy department produced figures on July 26 showing that rice planting nationwide is running at only 24 percent of the average. Kompong Speu is the worst affected by drought ? only 1.4 percent of the province's 110,000 hectares has been sown with rice.

The ministry revealed that the south and south-eastern part of the country are the worst affected provinces. The government have tried to pump water into rice fields, but problems have continued to mount.

"The situation is very serious, because almost all the seedlings have died. The people have no more rice seeds and no water," said Nuth Sakhan, Director for Agronomy Department.

Experts have attributed the drought to the ongoing problem of El Nino, a naturally occurring warming of the earth's oceans that has disrupted global weather patterns for the better part of a decade.

Even as the country struggles to account for its worst drought in years, six provinces along the Mekong River ? Kandal, Stung Treng, Kratie, Prey Veng, Kompong Thom and Kompong Cham ? have been deluged with floods, destroying rice crops and killing at least 18 people. "A total of 94,950 families have been taken to higher ground," said Nhim Vanda, vice-president of the National Committee on Disaster Management.

Kompong Cham Provincial officials have evacuated more than 50,000 families from six districts to higher land.

Kratie and Stung Treng provinces were also listed at the "warning stage". In Kratie province, more than 10,000 hectares of rice paddy has been destroyed and 4,000 families have been evacuated from the flood. In Prey Veng province reported that as many as 82,000 families has been displaced.

In response to worsening conditions on the land, farmers have flocked to the cities looking for work and food.

World Vision Cambodia have used some of their funds to assist communities mitigate the effects of the drought through reconstruction of water dikes and canals and distribution of short maturing rice for rice banks. World Food Program's Food for Work resources is likewise being accessed at the district level.

In Battambang District, more than 4,000 poor and vulnerable families totalling 25,182; 12,896 of whom are women, are benefiting from a distribution of 38.9 MT of rice seeds, 12 MT of white rice for food-for work , 2 MT of white rice for relief to the poorest families and 3 water pumps with 550 liters of diesel fuel. In Banan district, food for work is being made available in 2 communes for the construction of 4 community ponds, one canal 1.2 km long and a road 1.3 km long. In Kompong Leng District , Kp Chhnang province, the same things are happening. World Vision Australia has committed US 40,000 to fund these drought interventions.