Cambodia floods require continuing response

By agency reporter
October 27, 2011

The worst floods in Cambodia for more than a decade, that have killed 247 people, mainly by drowning, and displaced more than 100,000 families, could worsen, international development agency Christian Aid has warned.

"With heavy rains set to continue it is feared the people of Cambodia will suffer even more," said Katja Leven, Christian Aid’s country manager for Cambodia

"The situation will worsen further when neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam open their dams to ease their own floods," she added.

"A major concern is food security. Now and in the longer-term there’s the risk of severe food shortages due to rice fields being submerged, grain stores swept away and the December harvest being lost," explained Ms Leven.

Already thousands of homes and usually safe places such as open patches of high ground, schools and pagodas have been flooded.

Flood waters in the provinces around the Tonle Sap Lake is continuing to rise, and whilst the Mekong river water levels have begun to drop they are expected to remain high for the next few weeks.

Nearly three-quarters of the country is thought to have been affected, and it’s the poorest who have been hit the hardest.

Most of the communities affected by the floods are in rural areas which are still difficult to access, where people are largely dependent on subsistence agriculture, mainly rice farming and fishing, for survival.

Provincial authorities estimate that up to 60 per cent of the rice crop may have been destroyed.

Another major concern is sanitation, many people do not have access to safe drinking water and many wells are contaminated with flood water.

Local organisations funded though Christian Aid and other partners, the DCA and the ACT Alliance (the ecumenical churches' global development network) are distributing food and providing safe water to the worst affected communities.

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