Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday called on all relevant authorities to step up efforts to address the clean water shortage in a timely manner.
Severe clean water shortage has been reported in the coastal province of Preah Sihanouk, where even the provincial referral hospital is in dire need of clean water for consumption.
Speaking to over 3,000 students during a university degree conferring ceremony on Monday, Hun Sen urged the authorities to construct more wells as a precaution for the coming years.
“This year, the authorities from all over the country must try to dig wells instead of transporting water to the needy from afar. It’s a good means even though you have to dig deeper."
“In case we have enough water this year but somehow lack water next year, the wells would come in handy. So dig as many wells as possible at any places that lack water,” he said.
The prime minister cited an instance in 2016 when wells that were not deep enough ran dry. At the time he said 8m-deep wells dried up and had to be dug 10m deeper to extract water.
“We spent too much on fuel transporting water from afar. The money spent on fuel for transportation each time was enough to construct a well,” he said.
Seng Nong, the director of the Chamkar Chek referral hospital in Preah Sihanouk province, told The Post on Monday that the hospital needs around 40 cubic metres of clean water for an average of 200 patients per day. He said the hospital has run short of clean water for daily consumption.
“Our hospital is now facing a severe clean water shortage. We have extracted water from wells for our patients’ families to wash but water from wells is not enough to supply the entire hospital,” he said.
Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Yun Min on Monday urged relevant institutions including contracted water supplier Anco, which supplies clean water to the provincial water authority, to boost productivity to meet the people’s demands throughout the province.
“In the face of the water shortage, our provincial authorities are continuing to transport water to the people, especially the provincial hospital, for daily consumption because patients and medical staff need it,” he said.
Phorn Ratanak, the director of the provincial water authority, said his unit is unable to meet the people’s demands as it also currently relies on clean water supply from Anco.
Ratanak said the whole province needs an average of between 38,000 and 40,000 cubic metres of clean water for daily consumption, while Anco could supply his unit with only around 30,000 cubic metres, causing a lack of water at some areas in the province.
Anco’s representative Nam Kea Teng told The Post on Monday that his company is working to increase its productivity to supply a further 300 cubic metres of clean water for daily consumption in the province’s urban areas.
“People living in this coastal province’s urban areas still lack clean water because their homes are situated on higher ground or away from the main water pipes, or are located in the vicinity of hotels, casinos, factories and large construction sites where water either cannot reach their houses or is blocked by those venues for their own consumption,” he said.
“To address the issue, our company is installing more water pipes to be able to supply enough clean water.”
According to a recent report issued by the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey, Kampong Thom, Prey Veng, Koh Kong, Kampot and Stung Treng provinces are also facing water shortages.
The ministry’s spokesman, Chan Yutha, said all relevant institutions are working together to address water shortage by digging more wells and ponds and restoring irrigation systems, including streams and rivers for areas in dire need of water.
“Digging wells to extract water is a means we are still using in some areas. But it doesn’t work in certain areas including Battambang province’s Moung Russey and Kors Kralor districts, where we dug 120m deep into the ground to no avail. So we can only use the main canals to flow water to affected areas,” he said.