Floods and drought caused the deaths of 29 people this year and cost the country
$33 million, said the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM).
A recent report by the NCDM stated that Kampong Speu was the province worst hit by
drought, which nationwide caused $21 million damage and destroyed 63,000 hectares
Flooding in provinces along the Mekong caused the loss of lives and another $12 million
damage. Most of the victims were children.
"The natural disasters have affected public property, people's property, their
lives and animals. It also has had an impact on the economy and has hindered the
development of Cambodia," the report stated.
NCDM vice-chair Nhim Vanda said the twin disasters had affected 3.4 million people.
Up to 800,000 people were now facing food shortages, but it was currently unclear
how many would need help in 2003.
"There is a serious shortage of food," he said, "and we will need
to help them for a long time to ensure their standard of living."
Vanda said farmers had managed to sow 84 percent of the normal rice crop, which still
left a shortfall of 79,000 tons. Once the harvest season had finished in January,
the NCDM would conduct surveys to estimate the number of people who would need food
aid. Some people still lacked food, but others had finally reaped a good rice crop.
"People should try to plant rice and vegetables on spare land that has water
during the dry season," Vanda said. "NGOs should help them, because some
[families] will only have rice for three months after harvesting, so what will they
have to eat after that?"