Temperatures Drop, Experts Worry About Poor

Temperatures in the capital plummeted to a shivering 18 degrees this week, raising fears that many of Phnom Penh’s poor are falling ill with fevers and flu.

Sith Vannarith, chief meteorologist for the Ministry of Water Resources, said that the unusually cold weather and gusts of wind could pose a health threat if people did not take care of themselves.

“Such cold weather is very disturbing for the health of poor Cam­bodians,” she said.

Lim Phai, director of the Urban Sector Group whose organization is working on poor community issues in Phnom Penh, agreed with Sith Vannarith.

Plenty of elderly people and children living in the capital’s squatter areas are falling sick with colds, flu and headaches because they have insufficient blankets and coats to warm them up, he said. “This is very cold for the poor,” Lim Phai said.

Min Chankun, a 34-year-old mother, said three of her five children are sick from the cold and that this year is colder than previous years. “It is very cold now. We can’t live with this cold weather,” she said.

She and her husband, a construction worker, are making just enough money to buy food for their family, and it is difficult to afford the extra cash to buy medicines for her children.

But the cold spell, the second this month, is a blessing in disguise for second-hand clothes vendors.

At a second-hand clothes store off street 51, around 40 people Thursday were crowding over giant mounds of blankets and clothing to bargain over sweaters, jackets, long-sleeved shirts and trousers. The owner, busy dealing with her flood of customers, said her sales this month are higher than in previous months.

The cold snap, which started on Wednesday and is coming from China, looks like it will be with us for another two to three days according to the Ministry of Water Resources.


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