Floods a yearly trial for those living along Mekong

The Cambodia Daily
2 October, 2013

TBONG KHUM DISTRICT, Kompong Cham province – From November to May, the Mekong River is quiet. So is life for the hundreds of thousands of people who live along its banks, which in Cambodia forms a 155,000 square km basin covering six provinces and Phnom Penh.

During these months, the river pro­vides nearby communities with food, an income and fertile land.

From July on, however, people watch vigilantly as the Mekong rises. And sometimes it doesn’t stop.

When the water pushes through the doors of their elevated stilt houses, covers their floors and carries their belongings away, it is time to move, Sok Mayan, a 35-year-old mother of five, said yesterday.

“If I was standing in my house now, it [flood water] would be higher than my hip,” said Ms. Mayan, standing under her make­shift tent at an evacuation site.

Here, on a barren field in Tonle Bit commune, she has found a temporary shelter for her family—as have about 1,260 more people in the past week, according to the village chief.

Flooding has claimed at least 30 lives since heavy rains spawned by tropical storms over the past two weeks caused the Mekong to break its banks and inundate thousands of communities, like this one, across 10 prov­inces. In total, 9,509 families have been evacuated, 67,551 houses have been flooded and 81,357 families have been affected.

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