Flood waters that have killed nearly 100 people in the Kingdom are set to recede in the worst affected areas of the country, but concerns over food security remain.
Spokesman for the National Disaster Management Committee Keo Vy said that as of yesterday the death toll from the floods that have inundated Cambodia this month now stood at 97 people – 34 of which were children. “Floods have seriously affected about 90,000 families. More than 10,000 families were evacuated and about 83,007 houses, 500 school buildings and 1,200 kilometres of roads were flooded, while 238 houses were completely ruined,” the spokesman said.
Thousands of families around the country could face food shortages with tens of thousands of hectares of rice paddies thought to have been ruined by the flood waters.
Director of the Ministry of Agriculture’s rice seedling department Ngen Chhay yesterday expressed concern over food security, emphasising that paddies cannot produce if they are flooded for long periods of time.
“We are concerned about a food shortage for the next year because rice paddies will be ruined if they are flooded for more than 10 days,” Ngen Chhay said.
He said that figures from Prey Veng, Kampong Thom and Kampong Cham showed that more than 60,000 hectares – in the three provinces alone – could potentially be destroyed due to prolonged flooding.
“This year’s flood is bigger and more serious than previous years,” added Sang Yern, Kampong Ko commune chief in Kampong Thom province.
“More than 1,700 families in my commune are facing a food shortage.”
Him Seoung, a 50-year-old farmer from Prey Veng province’s Peam Chor district, said that several hectares of his plantations and rice paddies had been ruined, as water levels have had reached the
rooftops of most houses in his village.
“My family will not have enough to live for the next year if the flood persists,” said the farmer.
The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology has predicted that water levels are set to recede in all 16 affected provinces, but locals are still keeping an eye on major rivers.
In Phnom Penh, the Tonle Sap river looked primed to overflow along areas of the capital’s popular riverfront strip with the river only centimetres away from spilling onto the pavement.
While in the country’s tourist hub Siem Reap, provincial police chief Mok Som Oun confirmed that two men have drowned since Friday. He identified one victim as Kevin John Nunn, an British national who had been an administrator at an English-language school called Smart Kid. Ly Chenda, Nunn’s wife, said he was out drinking with his friends on Thursday night but failed to return home.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Ministry of Education, Youths and Sports to postpone the start of school after the Pchum Ben holiday due to the high number of damaged schools. Spokesman for the Council of Ministers Phay Siphan added yesterday that the government will devote US$55 million to assist those affected.