Banteay Meanchey Water Shortage Proves Dire

Some 20,000 people in Banteay Meanchey province’s Svay Chek district are facing dire water shortages, provincial officials said this week.

Soeng Phon, Svay Chek district governor, said Tuesday that villagers have been suffering from lack of water since last month, with no relief yet in sight.

“We’ve never had such drought. Canals, dams and ponds are so shallow, they can’t retain water,” he said.

Authorities have deployed six trucks transporting water to make twice-daily trips to villages in the district, he said. Though they have been delivering water to the villagers since late last month, he said, their efforts have done little to assuage the problem.

“[Villagers] are trying to save [water] but now it is the hot season, everyone needs water to use,” Soeng Phon said.

Government officials have dubbed this year’s drought the worst in 10 years. In Sihanoukville, authorities have cut residents’ ac­cess to tap water, limiting it to only 12 hours a day to conserve water.

The lack of water has hurt rice yields in many parts of the country.

Thach Ratana, director of the agriculture department in Svay Rieng province, said officials there estimate a shortage of 6,800 tons of rice for the province.

He said villagers will aim to produce more dry-season rice to counter the shortfall.

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