Cambodia is experiencing some of the worst flooding in a decade caused by heavy monsoon rains and strong typhoons which have lashed the whole of the Southeast Asian region. According to Cambodian officials, at least 150 have been killed and some 270,000 households affected in 17 out of 24 provinces since floodwaters started to rise in August. Tens of thousands of acres of rice paddies have been flooded just before the harvest raising questions about his years' crop and the economic impact not only for farmers but also the country as a whole.
Local officials and aid agencies such as the Cambodian Red Cross have been scrambling to help evacuate people in affected areas and provide basic items such as food and water. But as an ECHO assessment team discovered during a recent assessment mission to Kampong Cham province, the flooded areas are so vast that it is difficult to reach all villages. Some have been completely cut-off from the outside world by the rising flood waters. The team spent hours with the Cambodian Red Cross criss-crossing the country-side in small motorboats visiting small villages which have not received any assistance. Many inhabitants did not want to leave, either because they did not want to abandon their homes and possessions or because the flood waters rose so quickly that they feel safer in their homes than risk being swept away by the floods. Some are living in their homes although the water is knee deep. Others have set up temporary shelters close by on bridges which stick out of the flood plains like small islands.
There are growing fears of water borne diseases. As flood waters recede in some provinces the extent of the damage becomes more apparent as roads have been washed away, irrigation canals filled with mud, and private homes businesses damaged.
Photo story by EC/ECHO/Mathias Eick, 2011
Photo credits: EC/ECHO/Thearat Touch, Cecile Pichon & Evangelos Petratos