Officials: Continuing Drought Starving Villagers

Three hundred communes in 14 provinces are facing food shortages due to the persisting drought, leaving many villagers starving, officials said.

Kompong Speu, Prey Veng and Ta­keo are the worst afflicted prov­inces, Nhim Vanda, first vice president of the National Com­mittee for Disaster Manage­ment, said  Wednesday.

“I am very concerned that soon it will be worse,” he said, adding that he is appealing to the World Food Program to provide food for people in return for working on water supply projects.

The department is cooperating with the Cambodian Red Cross to pro­vide emergency relief, Nhim Vanda said.

People in Kompong Speu will have to eat less rice and try and con­serve their food, provincial Go­vernor Chan Nhalivuth said.

“People have to be thrifty in eating to save food,” he said, adding that many people have left their villages in the province to try and find work to feed their families during the drought.

Ponds, canals and wells have dried up in the province, he said, blaming the drought on deforestation. While Cambodia is in the mid­dle of its dry monsoon, last year’s rainy season began late and ended more than a month early, ruining wet season crops and leaving less water for the smaller dry-season rice crop.

The WFP has been distributing food to eight districts in Kompong Speu, and four in Takeo, said Chuop Mo­ny, head of the WFP of­fice in Kompong Speu.

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