Villagers Fear Another Drought as Waterways, Ponds Dry Up

Less than a year after the end of Cambodia’s worst drought in decades, villagers in Banteay Meanchey province say they are again facing a water shortage, and have yet to receive any word of help from authorities.

“All ponds, canals and creeks have dried,” said Dul Doeun, 60, a farmer in Kralong Tea village in O’Chrou district.

“I have been buying water that they have transported in. It costs 20,000 riel [about $5] for 1,500 liters, and it only lasts two or three days.”

“We are facing a water shortage for our daily use,” agreed Mleas Bunthan, 56, another resident of Kralong Tea.

He said the village’s 90 families hadn’t had enough water since last month, blaming the problems on deforestation.

“I think the water has dried now because they have cut the forest and planted cassava,” he said. “We have faced water shortages for the past three years.”

Suon Bovor, the provincial governor, confirmed that some villagers in the district were facing a water shortage, but couldn’t say how many families were affected. He attributed the problem to the weather.

“This area has received little rain and their wells are dry,” he said. “We are making efforts to work on this issue right now by finding a source of water in the area.”

Meanwhile, Keo Vy, spokesman for the National Committee for Disaster Management, said that last year the government made a concerted effort to store water in preparation for the dry season, and the O’Chrou shortage was not a significant issue.

“There is always some water shortage in the dry season,” Mr. Vy said. “Local authorities can resolve it.”

He added that the Water Resources and Meteorology Ministry had stored water in large reservoirs around the country—including in Banteay Meanchey—in case of a serious shortage.

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