Flood-Monitoring Project Tests Water Levels

The white measuring stick pro­jecting from the Mekong Riv­er’s mud­dy waters isn’t impressive to look at, but Me­kong Riv­er Com­mission officials say it is the be­gin­ning of a $1 million project to in­crease the reliability of flood mon­itor­ing along Cambodia’s rivers.

It’s part of a pilot program to measure water levels, devised in re­­sponse to massive flooding in 2000 that killed nearly 100 people and forced thousands from their homes.

The program is under way in three flood-prone villages in Peam Ro district’s Neak Loeung commune in Prey Veng province.

The commission has installed water-level markers on the banks of the Me­kong in Stung Slout and Stung San­thepheap villages, and at the re­cording station in Neak Loeung.

The markers are read daily by vol­unteers from the Cambodian Red Cross, said Bun Veasna, the commission’s water management program chief. The high water level is then post­ed on billboards in public areas, next to the previous day’s level and a prediction of the next day’s.

There are three or four Red Cross volunteers stationed in each village, Bun Veasna said.

In villages that are prone to flood­ing, the local measurements can provide crucial, extra time for prep­aration as well as free villagers from dependence on re­ports from relatively far-off official monitoring stations, he said.

In some cases, officials said, villages like Stung Slout have been known to flood while water-level read­ings at the Neak Loeung station were still below flood levels.

“We can know when the water will flow into the village,” said Loek Savath, Neak Loeung village chief. “We can prepare ourselves very well.”

“I think this project can alleviate casualties,” said Stung Slout Chief Yos Hoeun.

The project is also being implemented in three villages in the Lvea Em district in Kandal prov­ince. The MRC hopes to expand the project to eight areas in Cam­bodia by 2005, and then to take the project to Laos.



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