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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Who are suffering?

Who are suffering?

7 Enviroment

H​ow wonderful are the lives of the rich! Living in big houses with air conditioners, they do not know the feeling of being under the hot sun. They safely drive cars to work and school, and then go to air-conditioned, high-class restaurants and super malls.

Let us take a look on the other side – the side of the poor. Being under the hot sun and zinc roofs that absorb heat, the poor stay in the house as if they were in an oven, with shirts drenched with sweat. They have no choice other than to bravely continue living in the sweltering conditions.

Auntie Vy, who sells biscuits from her bicycle, must deal with the hot weather every day.

“Every day I sell biscuits along the road under the hot sun that is really hot, but I have no choice but to move on in order to sell them all,” said Vy as a drop of sweat fell across the wrinkled rim of her right eye.

The life for the 38-year-old biscuit seller is all about hard work, and she has to go out, rain or shine, to support herself.

“Even if the weather is extremely hot or the rain falls, I still sell the biscuits. I don’t give up because of the weather.”

Construction worker Kong Neang deals with the same problems.

“The weather today is very hot and sometimes the climate changes unpredictably,” said Neang, a tall, thin man with a suntan, who works at the construction site from 7am to 5pm.

“I am a construction worker, and it is very difficult for me to work under this weather.”

Looking pale because of a fever, he said he had to take a break because of the enduring hot weather. He also believes that changes in weather bring about fevers and colds.

Motorbike taxi driver Lux Senghour, 38, said that extreme weather means fewer costumers.

“When it’s hot, no one wants to go outside, or sometimes they prefer using the motor-driving rickshaws.”

Like Neang, Senghour said that the changes in weather make him sick.

Furthermore, students from the provinces studying in Phnom Penh find that the hot weather affects their studies.

“It is difficult to patiently withstand the hot weather nowadays,” said Soy Dolla, who is a student at the University of Phnom Penh and has experience living under a zinc roof.

“I cannot stay at home, especially when the weather is extremely hot and there is no electricity. It is better to stay outside the house.”

The roof provides shade, but it does not keep the house cool. He said he likes to spend time away from home at the university libraries where he can enjoy air conditioning.

According to Sim Tida, a doctor of Arun Ras Clinic, minor cases of sunburn can lead to skin cancer, while serious cases can cause death through heat stroke, which destroys the central nervous system. This can be caused by working outside when the temperature is above 39.4 degrees.

Tida said you should look out for symptoms of heat exhaustion, which include dry skin, fast pulse, headache, dizziness, vomiting and fainting. To avoid heat exhaustion, do not overwork, use a cool towel, rest in air-conditioned rooms if possible, drink water regularly even if you are not thirsty, take baths regularly, and go shirtless.

The problem of global warming is a serious issue not only for the small-business men or the poor workers, but also for the whole world. Although the world is paying attention to this issue, most of the victims are poor. In contrast, the rich fare better in air-conditioned homes and cars.



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