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A street-food vendor battens down the hatches during a deluge.
A street-food vendor battens down the hatches during a deluge. Pha Lina

Profits for street vendors dry up in wet season

While getting caught in the rain going from place to place can be a major hassle, spare a thought for those whose livelihoods depends on fine weather.

Wet season is a miserable time for Cambodia’s street-food vendors – both uncomfortable and unprofitable, says Vorn Pao, president of the NGO Independent Democratic of Informal Economic Association (IDEA).

“The numbers show that street vendors’ income drops by about half in rainy season. From January to May, they make profit, but from June to November, they cannot make money,” said Pao.

Without proper shelter to protect them from the rain, their products sometimes spoil and customers tend to stay indoors and cook for themselves, he said.

Standing in front of a factory in Chak Angre Leu, dessert seller Bun Sokhom, 62, confirmed her income drops by about half during the wet season.

“When it is raining cats and dogs, I cannot sell anything,” Sokhom says. “In dry season, I can make about 100,000 riel [about $25] a day, but in the raining season, I can only earn about 50,000 riel.”

At the same time, she found people were staying indoors during the evening more these days. In the past, customers used to be plentiful until 11pm, but now everyone was gone by 8pm.

“Without this job, I don’t know what else I can do,” she said.

Sao Boran, a 30-year-old porridge seller in the same area, said her main issues were moving around in floodwater that often reached to her thighs and customers finding somewhere to sit while they ate her food. “I can normally make about $25 a day, but when it rains, that goes down to only about $15.”

Pao said there were programs now providing advice to help street-food vendors to improve hygiene.

“The seller should have a strong physical structure that can shield customers from rain,” he said. “They should dress nicely and clean themselves and their place, because when it rains there will be mud that smells bad and makes the place look dirty.”

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