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Drought a ‘grave concern’

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Local communities in the Kingdom’s rural areas have expressed grave concerns over the severe lack of water amid a prolonged drought. CHAIWAT SUBPRASOM/REUTERS/THE STRAITS TIMES

Drought a ‘grave concern’

Local communities in rural areas across the Kingdom have expressed grave concerns over the severe lack of water for their daily consumption amid a prolonged drought that has caused streams, creeks, lakes and ponds to gradually dry up.

Due to high demand for water to increase their crop yields, farmers around the Trapaing Thma reservoir in Banteay Meanchey province have pumped water from the reservoir into their farms and in turn gradually drained the huge reservoir.

The issue has also caused concerns among researchers and conservationists who fear a lack of water and feeding grounds for rare wildlife and bird species and an adverse impact on biodiversity in the area.

San Sav Leang, a 56-year-old resident from Samrong commune in Oddar Meanchey province’s Samrong town, told The Post that most people in the commune do not have enough water to use as all lakes in the area have already dried up.

“In my commune, a number of lakes and streams have already dried out. Today, the authority distributed clean water for our daily use, but it is still not enough because there are many people in the area,” he said.

In the province’s Anlong Veng commune, more than 600 families representing the O’Romchek communities have sought intervention by calling on the water resource authority to build a dam in their community as the water body in their area had run dry.

Seth Sambor, a representative of Romchek II village, appealed for a speedy intervention.

“We need a dam to preserve water for use in the dry season that could cover over 1,000ha of paddy fields. This year, we don’t have enough water for rice fields during the dry season. I hope there will be a water solution for my community next year,” he said.

Provincial Water Resources and Meteorology Department director Nen Kuon told The Post on Tuesday: “We’ve studied and prepared a dam project in the area to address their concerns, but it would not be as fast as they want,” he said.

Since the beginning of this month, some villages in eight provinces including Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Thom, Koh Kong, Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey, Stung Treng and Prey Veng have faced water shortage, said Keo Vy, the National Committee for Disaster Management spokesman.

“Over 17,000ha of paddy fields have been damaged while some villages and communes in the provinces are running short of clean water for daily consumption,” he said.

Ly Sarum, a representative of the Prambei Mom forestry community at Prambei Mom commune in Kampong Speu province’s Thpong district, said nearly 100 bantengs on his 97ha of community forest land are in dire need of water and feed.

“The people in our communities want to dig two big ponds to supply water for themselves and wildlife in the area, but we don’t have enough money to do it,” he said.

Ken Sereyrotha, the country director of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), told The Post on Tuesday that irrigation projects including ponds, streams and lakes should be built in urban areas.

“If we add new ponds or restore irrigation systems such as streams and lakes in natural forests that serve as wildlife sanctuaries, forestry crimes will increase as poachers are omnipresent while the number of environmental rangers is limited,” he said.

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