Monday, August 15, 2011

Drought and flooding hits Cambodia

Daniel Sherrell in the Phnom Penh Post (Cambodia): The wet season had come and gone with almost no rain. Despite the best efforts of the farmers from Tralach commune, in Takeo province’s Traing district, widespread crop failures two years ago brought the community to the economic, and dietary, brink.

Rice paddies were parched beyond salvaging, said Oxfam spokesperson Brian Lund in a recent interview, adding that the dried mud was nearly too hot to stand on. “Usually [the farmers] harvest the rice barefoot, but that year, for the first time, they had to wear shoes,” he said.

This week, farmers in Kratie province are facing the opposite problem. Severe flooding in 30 communes across the province has inundated more than 1,000 hectares of transplanted rice seedlings, threatening damage to this year’s crop, said provincial governor Kham Phoeun last week. As the government evacuated families and cattle to higher ground, many residents were concerned that this year’s harvest would be wasted.

The Cambodian Red Cross has donated food aid and sleeping supplies to evacuated families, but the flooding has cut off roads and, as of yesterday, at least one person had drowned in the rising water. According to a statement from the Ministry of Water Resources, heavier-than-normal rainfall over the upper Mekong in Laos and Thailand has caused flooding downstream in Cambodia....

A flooded river hut in Cambodia, USAID photo

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