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Forum aims to address drought, flood effects

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Suchart Sirijungsakul, the head of the Thai National Mekong Committee Secretariat and Ponh Sachak secretary of state of the Water Resources and Meteorology Ministry chair at the meeting in Cambodia yesterday. Heng Chivoan

Forum aims to address drought, flood effects

Cambodia-Thailand Mekong River Commission opened its second meeting in Phnom Penh on Thursday. The meeting aims to address the effects of the droughts and flooding the region is increasingly facing.

Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology secretary of state and chairman of the meeting, Ponh Sachak, said periods of flood and drought had been irregular over the past few years and the participation of all relevant parties were needed to effectively tackle the problem.

He highlighted Pailin province as one border area that had been particularly affected by flooding over recent years.

“Cambodia is located at a lower altitude than Thailand’s Chonburi province. Therefore, when it rains heavily on the border area, Pailin province’s Sala Krao district will be flooded."

“Information sharing between the border authorities of both countries is very important to help each other prevent the natural disaster of flooding in time,” he said.

Suchart Sirijungsakul, the head of the Thai National Mekong Committee Secretariat and the meeting’s co-chair, said tackling the issue required cooperation and comprehensive and constructive comments from relevant parties in order to establish mechanisms for effective flood and drought management.

He said the meeting served as a platform for the joint study of the challenges of flood and drought management along the border in order to create a joint blueprint for implementing an action plan.

“We want to have a joint blueprint for implementing flood and drought management along the border areas,” he said.

During the meeting, experts from JBA Consulting said that increased floods and drought along the border, such as in Thailand’s Aranyaprathet district in Sa Kaeo province and Cambodia’s neighbouring Poipet town in Banteay Meanchey province, demanded work on reservoirs and irrigation systems in order to maintain the water supply during periods of drought.

Lay Sothy, the deputy director of the Banteay Meanchey provincial water resources department, told The Post that drought is seriously impacting rice cultivation in his province, with around 20,000ha of dry season rice plantations due to face a shortage of water.

“Experts are currently working with involved departments to save rice plantations and are instructing farmers to stop growing rice next month because water resources will be limited,” he said.