prasat sambor district, Kompong Thom province – Deep in the forest of Prek Kuk conservation park, 42 flood-displaced families have taken branches and leaves from the surrounding forest to build makeshift huts using plastic sheets and blankets.
It was quiet at the small camp yesterday afternoon, with people in mud-stained clothes milling around, cooking, tending to children and sleeping. Cut off from their homes, the families have been forced to use floodwater to wash and are surviving off rice donated by the World Vision organization.
These displaced residents of Sambor commune’s Po Treit village, which has been submerged for about half a month, are among the thousands of people who have been forced to leave their homes due to severe flooding in many parts of the country.
Horng Morn, 49, worried yesterday about how she would be able to feed her eight children over the coming days. “We are concerned because of a lack of food and water,” she said. “It’s very difficult to live because everything has been destroyed.”
Ms Morn said that the families had only received assistance from World Vision, and were still waiting for promised help from the government.
Po Treit village chief Son Soy said that the 259 people living in the camp badly needed medicine, food, tents, water containers and sanitation systems.
“Right now, some people have some diseases like malaria, fever and diarrhea,” said Mr Soy, pointing to one malaria-stricken man lying awake on a wooden platform under blue tarpaulin.
“It’s a huge flood this year that has flooded the whole of our village.”
Nhoeb Nain, wearing dirty pajamas and holding her naked baby, said that yesterday was the first day without rain since villagers left their homes.
“Some tarpaulin roofs have holes and it is hard to cover the whole family,” Ms Nain said, adding that only the NGO had come to help them by giving out water containers and food.
Across Kompong Thom province, floods have affected 26,894 families, with 18,865 of them lacking food and 2,997 displaced from their homes, said Im Saouen, secretary of the provincial disaster management committee. More than 79,764 hectares of rice paddies are inundated, he said, adding that government aid is on the way.
“The provincial authorities are preparing to give out food and materials,” Mr Saouen said. “Tomorrow [Thursday], we plan to distribute 44 metric tons of rice to 1,778 families in Stong district.”
Yim Yaren, representative for World Vision, said that on Sept 22, supplies for seven days were handed out to 305 families in four communes of Prasat Sambor district. “More than 1,500 families are affected by flooding there,” Mr Yaren said.
Yet even Soy San, who sat in one of the best stocked shelters with packets of cigarettes and shampoo at the makeshift camp, said she feared running out of food and also that their crops would be totally destroyed on her return home.
About half a month ago, families fled their homes in boats, and since then flooding had remained waist-high, she said.
“I’m not sure when the water will subside,” Ms San said. “We don’t know what to do.”