Thank you for all your support so far, you were great in 2011, let's see if we can get this project funded in 2012!
We visited Srey Phoom in Kroach village last October in the midst of heavy flooding that affected areas all over Cambodia. The worst flooding for over a decade, thousands of people were forced to evacuate to higher ground after heavy rain washed bridges and homes away, and destroyed approximately 180,000 hectares of rice paddies across Cambodia.
Phoom told us that the whole of Kroach was affected in some way, and that those hit worst by the water were those living in the middle and at the edges of the village. “There was serious damage, it damaged the road and the bridges, some villagers houses, and the rice is sagging – saturated with water, the land around it subsiding - It destroyed almost 40% of all agricultural crops, and over 50% of the rice.”
50% is an unpleasant amount, the rice is the life of any Cambodian village.
“The road was destroyed along with the bridges, this created traffic jams all the way down to the main road, blocked the way due to the broken bridge. When people became ill it was very hard to send them to the clinic...” So how did they cope with all this? “When the flood was here, we rammed poles into the flooded ground, tied our houses to the poles because we were worried they would float away, we also tied the wooden bridge outside the village down. We saw that parts of the land that were higher than others had become islands. We used these to keep our food, cows and buffalo, chickens and other animals safe and dry. Also the children!” She adds.
“If a someone had an accident during this time we helped each other out by transporting these villagers to the safety of the flood islands, we provided food and water, fed them fish, veg and rice.”
Last time we talked we learned that some rubber companies had taken an interest in the land Kroach lies on for their new rubber farms, possibly 9000 hectares of land. Has she heard anything more on this worrying news since then?
“The companies are still present in the village, they have not agreed with us on the borders of the village. They're using GPS right now to find the area they have decided upon and are posting cement poles, but the villagers have had no say in this. The Provincial Governor said he will discuss this with the company and let us know...”
“This would be very serious, a big problems for us. The village will be greatly affected by this land concession. The border of the proposed farm is close to the village – our plantations and rice fields will be inside the border of the company's land. Our livelihoods depend on these plantations and rice fields. Rain and flood is one thing, if there is too much rain, or not enough, this is a problem – but a temporary one. The village would and always has worked together to get through these times, times that might last one or two years at most. If The government allow our land to be taken, it will be forever.”
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