Thailand’s Poor Neighbor Suffers Worst Floods in a Decade

floods in cambodia

Since July, the media has diligently reported on the floods in Thailand, but seems to have forgotten about its poor neighbor, Cambodia, where approximately three-quarters of the country’s land area is underwater, according to a UN estimate. The situation in both countries is extremely serious, but in Cambodia it is nearing dire.

Since the monsoons took hold of the country, approximately 1.2 million people out of  a population of 15 million have been affected by the floods (NY Times).  The government has been slow to reach those living in the most rural areas of Cambodia, and at this point, there is no telling how bad the situation is. The UN reports that some 240,000 people have been displaced; 10 per cent of the rice crops have been destroyed and 265,000 hectares of rice fields have been damaged, raising the price of rice by 12 per cent. As they wait to be rescued, many people share slivers of dry land with their livestock.  Covered with fecal matter and insects, these small islands are quickly becoming a breeding ground for disease.

The WFP, CERF and the UN  have slowly begun to pump food and money into the most devastated areas of Cambodia, but there are concerns that those who have been displaced have been living on little or no food for weeks. The relief effort has had its fair share of challenges, and with water rising just below treetops in some areas, the only means of distributing food and supplies has been buy boat and makeshift water crafts.

Eighteen of Cambodia’s 24 provinces are inundated, and relief  is nowhere in sight. Several cases of cholera have been diagnosed and the number of people infected with dengue fever is on the rise. According to The Guardian, 800 people across Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and the Philippines have died in the floods, approximately 200 of those who perished are children.

For now, the situation remains bleak, but, ironically, as conditions worsen Thailand’s poor neighbor is slowly grasping the attention of the media and relief organizations around the world. As with most poor areas, damage control always seems to walk in a bit too late. Let’s hope that’s not the case  for Cambodia.

Photo by: hectorbuelta/Flickr

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