Is Chinese money drowning Sihanoukville, Cambodia? Floods blamed on rapid pace of development

The coastal city has become a focal point for investment from China, but the pace of development has outpaced essential town planning.

Maggie Eno and her Cambodian staff wade through thigh-high murky water as they assess the devastating damage at their headquarters. Destruction surrounds them as they start the huge task of clearing up in the wake of unprecedented flooding that left Cambodian coastal city Sihanoukville under water.

“Our building has been here for 11 years and we’ve never seen flooding like this,” says Eno, co-director of M’lop Tapang, a non-profit organisation that works with thousands of vulnerable children and adults in the province. “People here are worried and frustrated. It’s a very dangerous situation.”

The floods that battered Cambodia’s southern coast last month saw parts of M’lop Tapang’s headquarters – home to its education centre and clinic – engulfed by two metres of water. Elsewhere in the once sleepy seaside city, thousands of homes and livelihoods were destroyed by the heavy rains that transformed roads into perilous, fast-flowing rivers.

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