Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Droughts in Pailin, Banteay Meanchey

Droughts in Pailin, Banteay Meanchey

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A dried out field in Suphanburi province’s Bang Pla Ma district in Thailand on July 2, 2015. Some areas in Pailin and Banteay Meanchey provinces are facing water shortages. NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP

Droughts in Pailin, Banteay Meanchey

Some areas in Pailin and Banteay Meanchey provinces are facing water shortages due to prolonged drought, though no major impacts have been reported, according to a spokesman for the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology.

Chan Yutha said some areas in Oddar Meanchey, Battambang, Kampong Thom, Prey Veng, Preah Vihear, Siem Reap and Koh Kong provinces are also facing water shortages.

“The effects are not serious. In downtown areas such as Battambang province’s Moung Russey and Kors Kralor districts, we have transferred enough water for consumption to the affected areas. We can say it is completely safe. There is no problem anymore. We can transport water to intervene [in time],” he said.

Yutha said there were minor water shortages in Siem Reap province, while in Banteay Meanchey province, villagers still had enough water for consumption.

“What makes the ministry worry is the current state of the Ang Trapaing Thma reservoir in Banteay Meanchey province, because villagers have pumped almost all the water from the reservoir into their rice fields. Because of this, the water will run out quickly, so we need to extend the reservoir by over 6km. We have so far dug more than 4km and can [soon] finish digging. After that, water can flow into the reservoir quickly and it will no longer lack water,” he said.

To tackle drought, the government has issued an urgent notice calling on farmers not to grow crops in dry season this year to avoid damage to their yields. However, Yutha said people in some areas were failing to heed the appeal.

“We’re concerned. We are no longer allowing the growing of crops, otherwise there will be bigger impacts,” he said.

Yutha said the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology and local authorities have prepared machinery, water pumps and vehicles for distributing water to villagers in case of emergency, while also building more wells in areas vulnerable to drought.

“We have prepared between 50 and 60 water trucks. So far only seven to eight trucks have been used. We will increase the number of trucks if necessary,” he said.

Koh Kong provincial governor Mithona Phouthorng told The Post on Sunday that water shortages in the province occurred only in the provincial town, Khemarak Phoumin. She said the issue was not serious as the province has its own water source and authorities had intervened and distributed water.

“The province is ready to solve the issue of water shortages. We have tried to contact villagers in areas that face water shortages and told relevant authorities to be ready in finding water sources for distribution to villagers."

“In our provincial town, we have two water sources with [reserved water of around 80,000 cubic metres] – one at the Ta Porn waterfall and another one on Road 48. For remote areas, we’ve asked local authorities to take responsibility in distributing water to people,” she said.

Battambang provincial governor Nguon Ratanak said on Sunday that his province had successfully resolved the issue of water shortages. For areas that lacked water, he said the Ministry of Agriculture and provincial authorities had cooperated to dig canals and pump water to fill canals for water storage and consumption.

“We have pumped water into the canals in districts that lack water. We were prepared after the ministry warned of water shortages more than a month ago. If the drought continues or if there are any changes, we will act accordingly.”