River dwellers’ way of life under threat

Khmer Times –

Kampong Chhnang city, Kampong Chhnang province – Kim Heng only knows life on the water and her family of five has invested everything into their way of life here, where she owns a small floating home on the Tonle Sap river.

However, her way of life is under threat as authorities move to evict thousands of Vietnamese and Cham families living on the river, citing negative environmental impacts.

“If we live on dry land, we’d have to leave our boat. A thief can steal its battery and engine,” Ms Heng says. “We tried living on land once and a thief stole a few batteries from our boat. And another thing is that we are poor. We do not have the money to build a house and a toilet on dry land. We have to continue living on the water.”

“I still live on water because there’s a lot of fish here,” she adds. “Plus the authorities haven’t objected, so I’ll just continue to stay here until they ask us to move again.”

Floating houses make convenient homes for fishermen living along the river in Kampong Chhnang. With floating homes, ethnic Vietnamese fishermen are able to easily migrate from one fishing spot to another.

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