The Tonle Sap Lake is called the Great Lake by Cambodians for good reason. The scenic lake spans a vast area as the largest freshwater body in Southeast Asia. Its quaint waterborne villages are popular with tourists.
Yet Cambodia’s Great Lake does more than just provide for great photo ops. It also provides around 2 million people with their livelihoods, ranging from fishing to trading and transportation. Fisheries around the lake contribute around 75% to the nation’s production of protein.
But trouble is brewing for Tonle Sap. The lake’s annual flood cycle largely depends on water flowing from the increasingly beleaguered Mekong River, whose water recently plummeted to its lowest level in a century. During the monsoon season the rising of water levels in the Mekong, triggered by heavy rains, causes the usual flow of the river to reverse, pushing a large amount of water into the Great Lake.