Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra yesterday responded to public criticism blaming deforestation as the major factor for high temperatures in the Kingdom.
In response, Mr Pheaktra said high temperatures are caused by climate change and are also affecting other parts of the world.
“Global warming is caused by greenhouse gases and pollution,” he said. “Please do not think that it is only caused by deforestation because the earth’s temperature can increase due to development in our cities. There are many factors contributing to climate change that should be considered.”
“The Environment Ministry has told other institutions to tell people to save water during the dry season because many sources are drying fast,” Mr Pheaktra added. “We called on the public to join together to prevent forest fires. We also cooperated with communities by instructing them not to burn rubbish, which contributes to climate change.”
When asked about forest fires, Mr Pheaktra said when compared to neighbouring countries in the region, Cambodia has had 20, noting that Thailand has 100 hotspots, and Laos and Myanmar have 200.
“There has been no report of property damage from forest fires,” he said. “Some farmlands were damaged from forest fires.”
Health Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandin said the ministry has yet to receive any reports regarding the impact of the heat on the health of citizens.
“We have seen some health affects but that was because the patients were not practising good hygiene,”Ms Vandin said. “For example rashes, rashes are not caused by the weather. Rashes happen because of a lack of hygiene.”
Government spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday said Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered officials to dig wells and transport water to areas severely hit by shortages of water.
“We can control the situation. The heat has not caused an emergency,” Mr Siphan said.
Meanwhile, hundreds of farmers in Battambang province’s Banan district are battling drought as their crops wither away.
Has Sarath, a 63-year-old farmer, recently told Khmer Times that times are tough.
“There is a serious shortage of water this year, there has been no rain since the end of October,” Mr Sarath said. “This pond is almost dry and the water is not enough to sustain villagers because of the extremely hot weather.”
“Because of this, one hectare of crops cannot even yield one sack of rice,” he added.
According to a forecast by the Water Resources and Meteorology Ministry on March 12, temperatures in the Kingdom is expected to increase to up to 42 degrees Celsius in May.
“In April and May, the weather will be extremely hot, and sometimes it will reach 40-42 degrees Celsius, especially in the northwestern low lands and the northern plains,” the ministry said.