VILLAGERS in Kampot province’s Banteay Meas district are starting to place scarecrows in front of their homes in the hope of warding off sickness, following the death of one woman from severe diarrhoea, officials said.
Torn Phorn, the chief of Daeum Chamriek village, said villagers became afraid after a woman fell sick and died in April. They have taken to erecting scarecrows and burning fires at night, hoping the presence of both will chase ghosts and disease from their villages.
But authorities and health officials say it is poor hygiene practices, not ghosts, that are actually making the villagers sick.
“They drink the water from the well and rainwater without cooking. That’s why it made them sick,” Torn Phorn said.
Eng Eav, the chief of Sdach Kong Khang Lech commune, said officials have tried to convince villagers to abandon their superstitions.
“They are sick because of bad water. It does not have anything to do with ghosts coming into their villages,” he said.
Khek Daravuth, the director of a district referral hospital, said he believes that between 20 and 30 percent of famlies in Banteay Meas district have placed scarecrows in front of their homes, but that health officials had emphasised the importance of following good hygiene practices.
“Health officials went to their villages and told them to use boiled water and provided them with medicine,” he said.