Heightened risk of water shortages in 2023: Cambodia ministry

The dry season forecast predicted light or moderate rain in March and April, and warned that thunderstorms and strong winds were likely to occur.

Orm Bunthoeurn

Orm Bunthoeurn

The Phnom Penh Post


An excavator restores a canal amid a drought in Mongkol Borei district of Banteay Meanchey province in February last year. PHOTO SUPPLIED

December 27, 2022

PHNOM PENH – The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology advised people to conserve water and use it sparingly, as it predicted low rainfalls for 2023. Several provincial administrations have already said they are prepared to assist residents who are suffering from a lack of water.

In a December 22 announcement, the ministry cautioned people – especially those in remote areas, far from water sources – to conserve their water supplies, as there is unlikely to be much heavy rain until the rainy season begins in mid-May. It also warned that temperatures could rise as high as 39 degrees Celsius, which could lead to severe dehydration.

The dry season forecast predicted light or moderate rain in March and April, and warned that thunderstorms and strong winds were likely to occur.

“Although there may be moderate rainfall during the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season, the amount of rainfall will be unlikely to meet the Kingdom’s needs,” it added.

During the dry season, temperatures will be the lowest, or close to the lowest, they have been in many years. In January, the central lowland provinces can expect average lows of 18°C and average highs of 29°C.

In the Dangrek Mountains and the northeast plateau, minimum temperatures may drop to 15°C.

Oddar Meanchey deputy governor Dy Rado said he was prepared to assist the population of the province.

“If there are water shortages, we will mobilise our forces to provide relief. All provinces have a committee which is tasked with addressing this issue,” he told The Post on December 25.

He said Oddar Meanchey has five large reservoirs which stretch from Trapaing Prasat to Chongkal districts. Each of the reservoirs stores millions of cubic metres of water, which can serve the needs of people who experience water shortages.

Lim Sophean, deputy director of administration and information officer of Preah Vihear province, said on December 25 that the provincial leadership had not yet set out plans to deal with potential water shortages.

However, he believed the provincial governor will likely establish a joint mechanism and a team of specialists to solve any future issues.

“We are waiting for guidance from the provincial governor. Once we have our instructions, we will prepare the appropriate mechanisms,” he said.

In 2019, Preah Vihear province experienced a severe drought which adversely affected many people, most notably in Kulen district. The provincial administration applied all of its forces – as well as a team of young volunteers – in response. Water was widely distributed and many emergency wells were drilled.

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