The Government plans to rebuild the Khmer Rouge-era Stung Chinit irrigation dam in
Kampong Thom province, originally constructed using the forced labour of 100,000
people in 1976 and destroyed in 1989.
Veng Sokon, Under Secretary of State of Water Resources and the Meteorology Ministry
said it would take two years to redesign the dam and put out the construction to
tender making for a start date late 2002 or early 2003.
The decision to rebuild the dam has been supported by initial results of a feasibility
study conducted by a group of NGOs.
The cooperative study by the Groupe de Recherche et d'Échanges Technologiques,
(GRET), BCEOM-Société Francais d'Ingenière, and the Centre d'Étude
de Développement Agricole Cambodgien (CEDAC)found that a reconstructed dam
could double and even triple the crop production for the farmers through improved
The study says that the yield of wet-season rice will increase 38 per cent - from
1.4 to 1.9 tonnes per hectare. This would average out to an extra 1.032 tonnes per
family, increasing each family's income by 344,000 riel a year.
Much of this would follow from the introduction of double-cropping quick-growth (IR)
Watermelon production would double and other vegetable production could increase
economic return by 48 per cent.
The total income of each affected farming family would increase by an average 420,000
riels per year.
An Asian Development Bank report and recommendation made in March 2000 strongly favoured
the Stung Chinit dam rebuilding. It said the dam would increase agricultural productivity
and farmers' incomes, and stimulate the rural economy of Kampong Thom province through
the provision of irrigation and drainage, agriculture extension, and rural roads
The dam is expected to provide a host of direct and indirect benefits. Irrigation
would provide opportunities for cultivation and a second wet season rice crop and
new dry season crops including vegetables and legumes.
The project is also expected to result in higher fish yields in paddy areas.
Stung Chinit irrigation was begun by the Khmer Rouge regime on January 1, 1976 and
finished on January 6, 1977, mainly in Santuk and Baray districts, using forced labor
of around 100,000 people from Kampong Thom and Kampong Cham provinces under the direction
of North-East region. It had an irrigation capacity of 12,000 ha.
After the KR were expelled the dam fell into decline, variously affected by grenade
fishing, conflicting fishing and agriculture activities, and conflict between people
living upstream and downstream. In 1989 the neglected scheme was gradually damaged
Now the dam will be rebuilt, not with the picks and shovels of forced labour, but
a $20.5 million loan by the ADB.
The Bank's March 2000 report said this would consist of about $9.3 million (45 percent)
in foreign exchange and $11.2 million (55 percent) in local currency costs.
When asked what the environmental downside of the dam might be, Sokon said only 22
families upstream would be adversely affected.
He said that the government would pay them compensation.
Khim Sophana, senior officer of CEDAC and a participant in the third study said that
according to the local people, the reconstructed dam would not cause floods or damage
livelihoods as long as it was no higher than the original "Pol Pot" design.
He said villagers both downstream and upstream wanted to join the water management
committee to make sure the water will not cause trouble for them.