22,000 Families Face Food Shortage Due to October Floods, Gov’t Says

More than 22,000 families in 14 provinces are facing a food shortage because of flooding brought on by storms last month, which destroyed about 24,000 hectares of rice and other crops, according to a revised government assessment of the flood damage released yesterday.

Three more deaths were also reported because of the floods, bringing the total number of deaths to 11, an official said.

Keo Vy, deputy director of the department of information and relations at the government’s National Committee for Disaster Management, said revised estimates found tens of thousand of families across 14 provinces had been affected by the recent floods.

“22,746 families will face a food shortage because their rice fields were destroyed,” Mr Vy said, adding, “The official death toll increased to 11 people.”

“NCDM got the official report stating [floods] destroyed more than 15,912 hectares of rice field…. More than 6,942 hectares of other crops were destroyed,” he said, adding that the final report on the total damage had yet to be completed.

Mr Vy said most families had lost their rice harvests, but some were affected because they had lost food stocks and belongings during the flooding.

“On October 29, NCDM had an urgent meeting with NGOs to request them to support the affected families,” he added.

Last month the government estimated 10,000 hectares of rice were destroyed and eight people were reported killed due to the recent floods, with the cost of the damage calculated at $70 million.

Heng Bunhor, director of the department of agriculture in Banteay Meanchey, the hardest-hit province, said officials there had also revised their damage estimates upward and $6 million worth of agriculture produce had been lost.

“10,336 hectares of rice field were completely destroyed,” he said.

“According to the old people and our research we never had such a serious flood in 50 years,” Mr Bunhor said, adding that Phnom Srok, Mongkol Borei and Serei Saophoan districts were the most affected.

Phnom Srok district governor Ma Vanna said in two communes in the district flooding had wiped out harvests for three years in a row and families there were faced with a serious food shortage in the coming months. “We are very concerned about food security in Srah Chik and Spean Spreng communes,” he said.

Leang Penh, a farmer in Phnom Srok district’s Phnom Dei commune, said almost all farmers in the area had lost their rice harvest.

“Now our rice is destroyed we will have no food to eat, but we have a lot of children,” Mr Penh said. “We will pawn some of our rice field [to borrow money] to buy rice.”

Yang Saing Koma, director of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, urged officials yesterday to come up with a plan to support the poorest of the affected families.

“They have to come with assistance for these families,” he said.

            (Additional reporting by Paul Vrieze)

 

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