prasat sambor district, Kompong Thom province – Families displaced by flooding and scattered across Kompong Thom province say they have received little help from authorities, and have been largely left to fend for themselves.
The only shelter for Men Kuo, 48, and her family is an old piece of green tarpaulin hung over wooden poles in a muddy field in Chhouk commune.
“It’s so sad that it’s been nearly a month and the government has not provided anything,” Ms Kuo said, though she added that she still held out hope of receiving food, medicine and material to build a better shelter. “Right now, my family has diarrhea, but we lack medication,” she said.
Like Ms Kuo, more than 100 other flood evacuees squatted in the field alongside their cattle. They said the only assistance they received had been water containers from World Vision.
About 10 km away, at the Prasat Sambor district office, governor Ma Hon said local officials had cooperated with the Cambodian Red Cross and NGOs to provide assistance to 1,013 of 4,482 families affected by flooding in the area.
“But it’s not enough. We need to add more,” Mr Hon admitted. “Our district office does not have materials to give to the villagers.”
The district only had 40 tons of rice to distribute among 1,645 families on Saturday, he said.
“We cooperate to find NGOs and kind people to help them,” the governor added, noting that officials had compiled statistics and contacted flood victims, including 1,772 displaced families in remote places that are often only reachable by boat.
Say Sokun, disaster risk reduction facilitator at World Vision, said his charity had coordinated with the governor to give supplies to 305 families across four communes.
“The district authorities cannot respond to the disaster in Prasat Sambor,” Mr Sokun said.
Despite those efforts, Kheng Nat, 54, said that she had received nothing since escaping her flooded village by boat with four pigs more than two weeks ago.
“I’m very disappointed that the village chief has failed to contact or pay attention to families affected by flooding,” Ms Nat said.
A large truck loaded with rice, drinking water and other supplies was parked on the grounds of the Cambodian Red Cross office in Kompong Thom provincial town yesterday, ready to leave for Kompong Svay district this morning.
Uy Sam Ath, director of disaster management at the Red Cross, said that 4,597 families would have received help by today, and NGOs had assisted about 3,500 more of the 11,000 families identified as being in need.
Mr Sam Ath said that on Wednesday, they had traveled by boat to remote villages in Baray district.
“The water was like the sea, so it was very dangerous, but we tried to save the people,” he said.
Another person died yesterday, bringing the death toll in the province to 23, provincial governor Chhun Chhorn said. “Until now, about 5,000 families [in the province] have received food, including noodles and canned fish,” he said.
Chhiek Chheang, 51, who is camped in the same field as Ms Kuo, said that the stranded villagers were still able to offer some of the little food they have to a nearby pagoda during the Pchum Ben festival.
“Even though we have lost everything, we still believe that Buddhism can help us.”