Cambodian Families Affected By Flooding Struggle To Survive
Published on 24 October 2011

Maet and her three children have been displaced from their home in Kampong Cham for three weeks due to the worst flooding in Cambodia in over a decade 


WFP's Para Hunzai talks to a woman who has had to flee her home with her family due to the recent floods in Cambodia.

PHNOM PENH --Maet Lao is a 28 year old mother of three from Kapal Srasthmey village in Kampong Cham province, in central Cambodia. 

Up until three weeks ago, she lived a hard but happy life, cultivating three hectares of rice, making a monthly income of US $25. “We had enough security with cattle and land and no loans so we were happy,” she said. 

The rains started three weeks ago; initially she thought it was good for her rice crop but the rains got worse until all her crop was submerged in water. “We didn’t want to leave at first because my in-laws are old and cannot travel in such harsh conditions, but we lost our entire crop and then we had water one metre deep in our house so we had to move to find a way to make money and a place to live,” Maet explained. She collected a few belongings, her family and cattle and moved to an informal settlement around four kilometres away. 

MaetMake-shift camp

Maet and her family have been living in a make-shift camp on a small piece of land for two weeks now. She says she ran out of food and money quickly and herwhole family took up basket weaving like all the other displaced families in the area, but the increased supply  drove the price of baskets down. So Maet had to take out a loan of US $250 from a private bank at 2.7 percent interest. In return she had to put all her land up as collateral. “The money is running out fast but it affords two meals a days - mostly just rice and fish when we can catch them from flood waters.” 

The settlement has no access to clean drinking water or safe latrines, so Maet’s family is forced to use the flood water as both a source of drinking/cooking water and as a latrine. As a result, her six year old daughter has become extremely sick with diarrhea, for which she needs constant medication. This is putting more strain on the family’s limited resources.

Maet is extremely worried about how her family will manage when the waters recede. “The sense of security I had is gone because all our property is now in the hands of the lenders. We need to find a way to pay the money back but I don’t know how we will because we have lost all our harvest this year and need rice-seeds and food.” 

WFP's response in Cambodia

WFP has launched an emergency operation providing a monthly food ration to more than 60,000 people whose livelihoods have been badly-affected by the floods. WFP will continue to monitor the food needs of those affected and is supporting ongoing relief efforts.  

 The worst floods in more than a decade have devastated large areas of Cambodia, causing 247 deaths, displacing 46,000 households and disrupting the lives of 1.5 million people.


WFP Offices
About the author

Para Hunzai

Mehpara Hunzai works as a Consultant at the WFP Office in Jordan.