It might sound idyllic to some, living by the gentle rhythm of the current. But for inhabitants of the floating villages of Pursat, Cambodia, life on the Tonlé Sap river can be tough. Employment opportunities that exist on dry land are often unavailable to water-dwelling locals, and one that is – fishing – is threatened by the climate crisis.
“There are frequent, long storms which mean we cannot go out to do the fishing,” explains Ol Pheap, 41, a fisherwoman from the village of Kompong Knie. “We can catch about one or two kilos only, and sometimes we don’t catch any fish at all. Because there is so much wind, our equipment moves away and it’s so difficult to bring it back home.”
The dry seasons are equally challenging. “[They] are lasting seven months, which is unusual,” said Pheap. “When there is a dry season like that, the water recedes so far out that we have to move our equipment and boats [far away]. And it takes about three or four hours just to do that.”