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Drought ‘unlikely’ in ’17

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A child carries water from a pool in Banteay Meanchey province last year after drought conditions in Cambodia caused widespread water shortages. Hong Menea

Drought ‘unlikely’ in ’17

This year’s early rains and a swift response to drought-like conditions in two provinces will spare Cambodia the searing droughts that plagued it in 2015 and 2016, the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) said yesterday, though one development partner cautioned that lasting drought preparedness will require stronger financial commitment.

This year’s unseasonably early rains and the dissipation of the El Niño weather patterns responsible for last year’s severe water shortages mean that Cambodia “has no drought this year”, according to NCDM spokesman Keo Vy.

Nevertheless, said Vy, some districts in Prey Veng and Banteay Meanchey provinces experienced a “rainfall shortage”. Nop Polin, a program officer for Dan Church Aid Cambodia, agreed that water shortages are less likely this year.

At present, said Polin, his organisation provides subsistence farmers with capital and training to sell their crops as a financial cushion for droughts in Kampong Speu. However, he said a lack of funding from the Cambodian government stands in the way of adequately preparing for future droughts.

Kampong Speu Governor Vi Samnang acknowledged limitations in the national government’s budget as hampering drought preparedness. “Presently, we are renovating the irrigation system to tackle droughts and floods,” he said. “But we cannot ask for the budget from the government because not only our province faces this problem.”

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