Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Thirty Villages in Kampong Speu Lack Clean Water After Stream Dries Up

A photo showing Veal Pong water station’s drought-ridden resource in May 2024.
A photo showing Veal Pong water station’s drought-ridden resource in May 2024.

Clean water supply by Veal Pong water station has been disrupted as the river in Snampuk Village, Veal Pong Commune in Udong District, Kampong Speu province dried up for the first time since operations began four years ago.

The station posted a statement via Facebook on May 2, 2024, to inform customers about the river’s condition and that there was not enough water for normal supply. It provides water to two communes (Veal Pong and Preah Sre) which have 30 villages.

The water station did not provide an exact time when normal supply would return. However, it said once another water source is located or the river is flooded again when it rains, water supply would resume as normal.

Pen Chantha, a representative of Veal Pong water supply, said they are undergoing difficulties as this was the first time the station experienced low water resources. He believes that it was due to climate change and dry season farming in the area.

“As a station of clean water supply, my team and I are facing challenges as this is the first time we lacked water. We will try our best to find a solution for the customers.”

Chantha said the provincial authority corporation has allowed them to access water resources but it is “far away” from the Veal Pong water station. “It will take three to seven days for water supply to return to normal if we pump water from that area. We also need financial support and cooperation from relevant authorities.”

Resident Vorn Savy told CamboJA on May 3 that the water supply has not been stable for a week now, which is made worse by the hot weather.

“It is really difficult for me and other residents as we are experiencing hot weather, especially this year, it’s so hot. At the same time we don’t have enough water to use during the dry season. It affects my job and livelihood. Sometimes I need to wait until the night to get water.”

The low water supply does not only affect the old in the hot season but the young too. “Even older people think that it is hot and difficult to accept. How about children? They also need water for daily use and when they go to school.”

In addition, Savy and her mom’s incomes are affected because they need water to run their business. “My mom is a clothes launderer and I run a salon. I have to tell my customers that we have no water and this affects my income,” she said, urging the stakeholder and authorities to solve their water problem as soon as possible.

Kampong Speu provincial governor Vei Samnang could not be reached for comment.

Tann Suntra, Damnak Smach village chief of Veal Pong commune, said she was aware of the water issue affecting the residents for the first time as they had sufficient water supply in the past few years.

“I think the weather is so hot this year because of drought and climate change, that’s why we don’t have enough water to use,” the 64-year-old observed. “We need to accept this because climate change is a global crisis not only in Cambodia.”

Suntra said as a local authority, she knows the residents are facing livelihood challenges. “They need to spend money to buy mineral water for use. Even though it is expensive, they need to buy it because they have no choice. Normally, we use the water for bathing, cooking and laundry. They use clean water from the station and sometimes from the canal, depending on their economic condition.”

Yong Kim Eng, president of the People’s Center for Development and Peace, said residents’ income and public health were affected by the lack of water, especially in hot weather.

“This issue will affect their livelihood, wellbeing and public health because humans need water for daily use, to grow crops and to survive.”

He urged the authority and relevant ministry to provide a speedy solution to the residents. “Farmers, especially, need water for farming.”