Editorial | Articles about Cambodia | Khmer

Friday, November 11, 2011

Flood Victims Fear Lean Year Ahead

Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer | Kampong Thom, Cambodia

Sen Simon, 36, gazed at her flooded rice field and home from high ground in Kampong Thom province’s Baray commune.

Her daily food and other necessities were taken care of by the government, but she saw little hope for her future, after severe flooding inundated the area last month. Five thousand square meters of her rice crop was spoiled by the flooding, which would make next year tough, she said.

“I’ll lack food and I’ll face poverty,” she said. “It’s difficult to think of what I’ll do in the upcoming year.”

Sen Simon is among tens of thousands of Cambodians displaced by severe flooding across the country, in Cambodia’s largest natural disaster in a decade. At least 250 people have been killed in the flooding, and another 1.5 million affected one way or another, according to the government’s disaster agency. At last count, nearly 400,000 hectares of crops had been damaged.

“My house is flooded,” said Som Vanthon, 56, another resident of Baray commune. “When the water recedes, my house will collapse, because the pillars, bamboo floor and palm-leafed walls will break.”

In the commune’s Chaktuk Lork village, residents have received aid packages containing 10 kilograms of rice, 20 packets of instant noodles, salt, fish sauce, blankets, mosquito nets and fishing nets from the government.

Neang Yong, 38, said that much rice lasts about five days, but she fishes for food and money to buy more rice with. “My living is now very difficult,” she said.

In nearby Santuk district, the situation is much the same: rotten crops, flooded fields, flooded homes.

Tan Sokbeang, 55, who lives in Roneam village, said she has not received assistance from the government. “The village can’t see a rice plant,” she said. “My rice crop is completely spoiled. I’m very worried there will be no rice to eat in the next year.”

Kampong Thom Governor Chhun Chhon said in this province, just one of 17 affected by the floods, a third of the rice crop is destroyed, around 65,000 hectares. Some 4,000 families are facing food shortages and around 2,500 have left for higher ground. Flooding here killed 47 people across the province, he said.

Meanwhile, residents here are calling for more aid. So far, the Asian Development Bank and the UN, along with China and the US, have provided a total $16.55 million in aid to help victims. Government officials say they are preparing to distribute rice seedlings and more food aid. Damage for this year’s flooding is expected to exceed $520 million, in damage far exceeding the $145 million from flooding in 2000.

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