Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Flooding along the Mekong

Flood damage update. We've received several emails with questions and concerns about recent flood damage here in Cambodia. Thanks for your concern! There has been quite a bit of damage especially to many rice fields that were so close to being ready to harvest. Daneth Him just went up to visit Kampong Chhnang yesterday to assess the extent of damage to communities we work with there. The flood levels have not been as high as during the typhoon in 2009, but the water has been very slow to recede, which is why the crop damage has been extensive.

The Social Concerns Committee (SCC) of the Methodist Church in Cambodia (MMC) has already distributed some funds from UMCOR for immediate food aid to about 1150 families in 55 villages (in 9 provinces) who have lost their harvest, but this is still just a drop in the bucket so to say. The Water Festival has been canceled by the government this year in order to use those funds also to provide relief.

One of the difficulties is that this is the time of year when there is already seasonal hunger in Cambodia. Folks are stretching what little they have or have taken high interest rice loans to make it until the early rice is ready to harvest in November. It is often the fields that are most susceptible to flood damage that are planted early because they have more water, which is needed for those early crops. Therefore the "hungry season" will be extended this year. Additionally, many people have taken rice loans just to feed their families already and, with the reduced harvest, they may fall deeper into debt when they can't repay these loans. Many folks are already leaving their villages looking for alternative work. CHAD has been working for this past year with the Social Concerns Committee to establish "rice banks" in order to mitigate against these high interest loans, but many people will not even have rice to pay back to their low-interest community rice-banks either this year. This means that we anticipate an increase in the "hungry season" next year as well. Therefore, we hope to be able to shore up existing rice-banks and establish new ones in the effected area.

Thanks for your concern. If you would like to make a donation to be used by the Social Concerns Committee for the immediate relief effort, you can give online through The Advance and 100% will be delivered here. Please add a note/memo that this is for "flood relief" so that we will know how to channel your funds to SCC. Or, write a check to your local United Methodist Church and note in the memo "Advance #3020542 - flood relief."

CHAD will continue to fund rice banks through our ongoing development efforts. You can also give online to that effort.

by Katherine Parker 
pictures by Him Daneth

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