Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Clean water shortage at Sesan



Clean water shortage at Sesan

One of the four ponds used by Kbal Romeas villagers to collect their daily water in Stung Treng province. Photo supplied
One of the four ponds used by Kbal Romeas villagers to collect their daily water in Stung Treng province. Photo supplied

Clean water shortage at Sesan

Even as floodwaters pour into their villages and encroach upon their resettlement sites, villagers displaced by the controversial Lower Sesan II Dam in Stung Treng province say they are now facing shortages of potable water.

Community representative Lat Vibol said the 252 villagers from the Kbal Romeas indigenous community, which refused to relocate to government resettlement sites from their land in the flood zone of the Hydro Power Lower Sesan 2 Co Ltd project – partly owned by tycoon Kith Meng – are running out of drinking water after two of the four natural ponds in their informal resettlement area dried up last month.

“We are worrying about the water shortage because the last two ponds are almost dried out,” Vibol said. “It is available for only one more week.”

According to Vibol, villagers got their water from the Srepok River before the dam closed, but that water source – along with their village – has been submerged by floodwaters from the dam since October. The villagers do not dare consume the floodwaters, Vibol said.

“The water is stagnant and not clear,” he said. “In some places, it smells bad. It does not flow naturally anymore. The grass, plants and animals died and decayed in the water.”

In addition to displacing thousands of indigenous villagers, environmental experts have raised alarm over the project’s detrimental impact on the Mekong River’s annual flood cycle and fish migration patterns.

Another informal settlement of more than 60 people from neighbouring Srekor village is also starting to run out of water, according to community representative Fut Kheoun.

About 20 percent of people on the unofficial settlement site live close to a water source, Kheoun said, but the rest have to transport water from about 7 kilometres away, or spend between $150 and $250 to dig new wells.

Villagers at the formal resettlement site are spending 25,000 riel (about $6.25) per 3,000 litres of clean drinking water from a local supplier, as the water provided by authorities and the company is only safe for bathing, according to former Srekor Commune Chief Siek Mekong.

Stung Treng Provincial Hall spokesman Men Kong said provincial authorities met last week to discuss water shortages and other issues faced by the displaced communities.

Kong said a team would begin investigating the water supply at both formal and informal resettlement sites in the next few days, and would again offer compensation to those who resettled on their own.

The provincial government previously offered all villagers living in what is now the dam’s reservoir a compensation package of $6,000 per family or 5 hectares of land, including a new home.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma