Drought Hits District in Mondulkiri

Source: Phnom Penh Post | Thu, 24 March 2016, by Sen David

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Villagers in Mondulkiri’s Keo Seima district – who have been asked to conserve water due to a shortage – pump water from a well. Photo supplied

Up to 4,000 mostly ethnic minority people in Mondulkiri’s Keo Seima district are facing a water shortage after the local supplier announced service would be suspended due to impending widescale drought.

The announcement, issued by the Bor Poch water company, called on residents to conserve water.

“We appeal to all people living in Mondulkiri, and especially those in Keo Seima district, which is facing a drought, to save water, and Bor Poch will endeavour to find an alternative source soon,” the letter read.

While that alternative source is being found, Keo Seima residents are being forced to take extreme measures to cope, provincial Adhoc coordinator Sok Rotha explained.

“It’s very strange this year. The villagers are struggling to find useable water,” said Rotha.

“Some families only use water for drinking, and some are not washing their bodies or cleaning their homes.”

District Governor Sin Vannvuth said yesterday afternoon that a meeting had been convened to draw up a solution, though he was not optimistic.

“Now, the provincial and district authorities have called a meeting to find a solution and find a water source for the people,” said Vannvuth.

“But in the meantime, the authorities appealed to villagers to use water sparingly now as the drought will be here for a long time.”

One villager, Phcong Khernch, 39, said people in Keo Seima have traditionally relied on the nearby mountains to sustain them, but even there, the water table was slipping ever lower.

“We are an ethnic minority. You know, we always climb the mountain to find food and animals to support our families,” said Kernch.

“We find water on the mountain to keep at home for daily use, too. But now we climb every day and we find no water, because there’s less water at the source.”

Chrong Hon, a commune assistant in Keo Seima’s Memang commune, said that as many as 30 families were sharing a single well, many of which had run dry, while ponds and reservoirs were slowly emptying.

Much of Cambodia was plagued with droughts last year. But in November, the Ministry for Water Resources and Meteorology warned that 2016 would be even hotter and drier.

At the time, ministry spokesman Om Rina warned that Cambodia was heading into “uncharted territory” this year.

“It’s going to be pretty bad for the dry season harvest,” he said.

Representatives of Bor Poch were unreachable for comment yesterday.

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