The Ministry of Rural Development and its partners have launched a groundwater monitoring system to counter droughts in seven provinces and ensure sustainable water management.
The monitoring system has been set up in the provinces of Kampot, Kampong Speu, Kratie, Pursat, Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey and Stung Treng with funding from the European Union, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Action Aid Cambodia and DanChurchAid.
The system was launched during a workshop on “setting up groundwater level monitoring systems in Cambodia” held in Phnom Penh yesterday.
Rural Development Minister Ouk Rabun said that climate change is impacting the lives of not only Cambodians, but also people around the world.
Mr Rabun said natural disasters such as floods, droughts and storms need to be countered. He said that the system will serve to anticipate natural disasters in order to take preventive measures.
“If we have groundwater monitoring systems, as well as reliable information about changes in groundwater levels, then we will be able to develop plans,” he said.
Hun Boramey, country director of Action Aid Cambodia, said groundwater monitoring systems are important for the collection of data to ensure that water management is sustainable.
“If we do not monitor, the next generation may not have enough water to use,” Ms Boramey said. “If there’s not enough water, we will face serious drought. The system will give us the information to be better prepared to respond to this situation.”
Meanwhile, the Asia Development Bank and the Water Resources Ministry are planning to implement the Irrigated Agriculture Improvement Project to develop water resources in the provinces of Battambang, Kampong Cham, Takeo, Kampong Thom and Kampot at the cost of $135 million.
Water Resources Ministry spokesman Chan Youttha said that ministry and ADB officials studied aspects of the project and will implement it at the end of the year or early next year.
Mr Youttha said the project is focusing on modernisation, rehabilitation and renovation of irrigation systems in the five provinces.
“The irrigation system will focus on increasing water for farmers,” he said. “The real beneficiaries will be the farmers who farm in rural areas.”
The Water Resources Ministry said that the IAIP project will focus on the construction of 381.2 kilometres of concrete canals, the construction of 6.5 kilometres of concrete dams and 800 metres of a spillway. The project will also focus on constructing irrigation systems to carry water to rice fields three times per year.
Earlier this week, authorities in Kampong Cham province attempted to minimise the effects of drought in the province which has affected more than 10,000 hectares of rice fields in five districts since the beginning of the month.
Om Vibol, director of the provincial water resources department, said water is being pumped to the crops.
“Officials are using three water machines to pump water for fields in some of the hardest-hit areas,” Mr Vibol said. “The districts of Prey Chhor and Kampong Siem were hit the hardest in the province.”