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Myriad flood challenges remain

Schoolchildren affected by flooding walk through Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district last week
Schoolchildren affected by flooding walk through Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district last week. VIREAK MAI

Myriad flood challenges remain

As the flood levels recede in most of the 20 affected provinces, victims continue facing scores of recovery challenges including sanitation, food security, health and shelter concerns, as well as a lack of potable water.

In its fourth report on the flood situation, released yesterday, the Humanitarian Response Forum – a network including the United Nations and NGOs – found the flooding caused 168 deaths and affected over 1.7 million people, shuttering 1,390 schools and 78 hospitals and health centres.

Some US$1 billion of property and infrastructure damage was sustained, according to the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM).

“The water levels are down, but not 100 per cent of families can go back to their homelands yet,” Uy Sam Ath, director of Cambodian Red Cross disaster management, said.

Battambang and Bantey Meanchey remain heavily affected, with several villages still inundated at water levels not seen in previous floods.

“The situation here is still very dire,” Raymong Chhim, program director for the Battambang-based Puthi Komar Organisation, said.

Immediate needs, according to the forum report, include damage assessment, health screenings, food and drinking water distribution, and repairs to infrastructure.

“Most of the wells were contaminated, so very many villages were left without any source of drinking water,” Leng Vireak, senior manager of disaster response at World Vision, said.

Though 85 per cent of schools closed due to the flooding are now reopened, according to the NCDM, 400 schools remained closed as of Monday.

The flooding has also increased exposure to unexploded ordnance (UXO), with flash floods washing explosives from uncleared to demined areas; the forum reported one UXO and two anti-tanks mines have been found in Battambang.

“We need to ensure that not just emergency relief is provided, but also recovery aid so that families can return to their regular life,” Vireak said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEN DAVID

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