Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Another drought year in store for Cambodia

Another drought year in store for Cambodia

Children try to escape the afternoon heat by playing in a canal in Kandal province earlier this year.
Children try to escape the afternoon heat by playing in a canal in Kandal province earlier this year. Vireak Mai

Another drought year in store for Cambodia

As the weather pattern known as El Niño threatens to wreak havoc on climatic conditions across the globe, the Cambodian government has warned that higher-than-usual temperatures, which already sparked droughts this year, will cause next year’s rainy season to be even shorter.

What’s more, the heat wave is expected to dramatically shorten the already-brief period of mercifully lower temperatures typically experienced in the coming months.

A statement from the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology released yesterday said that Cambodia would experience a “dry and hot” climate from December 2015 to May 2016, particularly in April and May, when maximum temperatures will reach up to 41 degrees Celsius, about 1 degree higher than in 2015.

Om Rina, director of the General Department of Water Resources and Meteorology, said the heat may also affect Cambodia’s traditionally cooler “winter” months during the dry season.

Rina said that 2014’s cool period ran from mid-November to February 2015. The coming period, however, may only start at the end of December and finish in mid-January.

The expected heat wave will also push back the start of the rainy season slightly and cause rain to be less plentiful than usual in the early part of the season, according to the statement, which warns people to save water.

“The ministry, relevant institutions and local authorities urge the public to acknowledge this information and pay more attention to preserving water for daily use as well as for agricultural fields,” the statement reads.

This year’s El Niño, a cyclical rise in ocean temperatures in the Pacific that brings dry weather to the region, is one of the strongest ever recorded and threatens to exacerbate drought in the Kingdom, said Ian Thomas, a technical adviser to the Mekong River Commission.

“We’re in uncharted territory,” he said. “It’s going to be pretty bad for the dry season harvest.”

Cambodia experienced widespread food shortages in 1997 and 1998 during a previous record-setting El Niño.

The weather pattern currently brewing in the Pacific has been partly blamed for causing 2015 to be the hottest year ever recorded globally.

Drought struck 13 provinces during this year’s rainy season and affected tens of thousands of hectares of farmland more than the year before, according to a Ministry of Agriculture report from September.

Whatever happens, Agriculture Ministry spokesman Lor Raksmey insisted yesterday that authorities had been developing methods to educate farmers about climate change and using more resistant crops.

Tek Vannara, executive director of the NGO Forum, yesterday urged the Cambodian delegates attending the UN’s 2015 Climate Change Conference in December to appeal for more funds to be donated by the world’s rich polluters to poor countries.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Stop Russia sanctions

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said sanctions against Russia as a result of its military offensive in Ukraine should be stopped as they have produced no tangible results, and predicted that a global food crisis would ensue in 2023 as a consequence. Speaking to an audience at

  • Chinese tourists 2.0 – Coming anytime soon?

    Regional tourism is grappling with the absence of the prolific travellers and big spenders – the Chinese tourists. Cambodia, which has welcomed over two million Chinese tourists before Covid-19, is reeling from the economic loss despite being the first to fully open last November ‘To put

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when

  • Siem Reap’s Angkor Botanical Garden opens

    The Angkor Botanical Garden was officially opened on May 19 with free entry for both local and international visitors for the first six weeks. The garden was established on a nearly 15ha plot of land in Siem Reap. “After the first six weeks, Angkor Botanical Garden

  • Pub Street on the cards for Battambang

    The Battambang Provincial Authority has announced that it is considering establishing a Pub Street in the area around the heritage buildings in Battambang town in a bid to attract more tourists. Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou told The Post that the establishment of a Pub

  • Hun Sen: Don’t react to hostility

    Prime Minister Hun Sen urged tolerance and thanked members of the Cambodian diaspora for not reacting to the hostility on display towards him by others while he was in the US to attend the May 12-13 ASEAN-US Special Summit in Washington, DC. In an audio