Phnom Penh, April 25 (IANS) Drought has caused water shortages in 18 out of Cambodia’s 25 cities and provinces, an official said on Monday, adding that authorities have been distributing water to the affected villagers.
“Wells and ponds have dried up in some districts in 18 provinces and hundreds of thousands of people are in need of water,” Keo Vy, spokesman for the National Center for Disaster Management (NCDM), told Xinhua news agency.
“In my observation, this year’s drought is the worst of all in the past 40 years,” Vy said.
Authorities have been working actively to truck water to drought-hit villagers in those provinces.
Temperatures have risen to 42 degrees Celsius in some provinces, the spokesman said, adding that about 65 tonnes of fish in Tonle Chhmar lake in central Kampong Thom province died last week.
Also, a 45-year-old female elephant, used to carry tourists in the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap province, collapsed and died on Friday due to the heat, he added.
He called on the elderly and children to be vigilant against the hot weather.
According to the spokesman, the drought was forecast to continue until July due to the impacts of El Nino.
Prime Minister Hun Sen last week urged Cambodians to use water sparingly and ordered his officials to do their best to deliver water to drought-stricken villagers.
“Please, all of you, reduce the use of water, don’t waste it when facing water shortages, and I hope that the assistance of the water that the authorities are distributing will help all of your needs,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
To help alleviate the drought conditions, China has been discharging water from the Jinghong hydropower station in southwestern Yunnan province to the downstream Mekong River countries — Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
Chan Yutha, spokesman for the Cambodian Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, said last week that at least 60 million people living along the downstream Mekong River are benefiting from China’s ongoing discharge of water.