National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) spokesman Keo Vy on Sunday said attempts were under way across eight provinces to rescue 23,000ha of dry-season paddy from drought. Three districts in Battambang province were facing emergency levels of severe drought, he added.
Vy told The Post that government officials were pumping water into paddy fields in Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Svay Rieng, Prey Veng, Kandal, Kampong Thom, Kampong Speu and Pursat provinces.
He said Battambang province’s rice fields were not generally badly affected. However, three districts – Rukhak Kiri, Moung Russey and Kors Kralor – were seriously lacking water as the area’s reservoir had dried up.
“Some provinces lack water, but the situation is not yet serious. Nearly every province has been facing a lack of water since December. Some provinces are not facing serious shortages because timely intervention was made and water was pumped in from other sources,” Vy said.
He said after assessments by government experts, only underground water sources can be used in Moung Russey district. Kors Kralor district faced drought every year and government officials had pumped in water from other districts to address the problem.
Rukhak Kiri district is situated on higher ground than the rest of Battambang province, which made it more difficult to find water, he said. Only underground sources can be used.
Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology spokesman and secretary of state Chan Yutha could not be reached for comment.
Ministry spokespersons Yin Savuth and Mao Hak both declined to comment because they were yet to receive detailed reports on the situation.
A Fresh News report on Sunday said Minister of Water Resources Lim Kean Hor ordered a team led by secretary of state Chan Yutha to transfer water to supply Moung Russey district from Ratanak Mondol district, around 100km away.
Chan Yutha told Fresh News that Battambang’s Rukhak Kiri and Moung Russey districts were facing dire shortages, while the situation in Kors Kralor had been addressed.
He said Moung Russey district will likely face water shortages next week.
However, the ministry had already prepared measures to counter the situation. Currently, a team is preparing to restore four additional canals.
Battambang provincial governor Nguon Ratanak could not be reached for comment.