The worst flood… Who is to blame

I remember very well the 2000 flood. In that time, the country was starting its recovery after years of a stagnant economy. People suffered, but they were more near to endure it easily after years of total poverty. It cannot be compared with this present flood, the worst in 10 years. Near 170 persons have died already and more than 215 thousand families affected. It is calculated that 290 thousand hectares of land are under the water, while Mr. Phou Phuy, president of the Rice National Federation, said to Xinhua that Cambodia will fall short in rice due to the floods this year.

Who is to blame? It is easy to say that we are victims of the climate change.

But the climate change did not come out of the blue. It is easy also to blame other countries and their bad treatment of the environment.

But we have to look our own eye.

Just travel through the roads of provinces like Preah Vehea, Siem Reap, Kompong Thom, Banteay Meanchey, Stung Treng, Kratie and Ratanakiri… You can see a beautiful view everywhere you go in Cambodia, but there is a great absent: the jungles.

We don’t need to make careful studies and long reports, as certain curious ecological NGOs use to do in Cambodia, to understand that the jungle is under a daily destruction. Timber smuggling, clearing the woods to give space to plantations, land grabbing from entire farm villages, quarries… all these things done with an astonishing impunity or lack of planning and ecological impact research.

They said that the road to Banlung, the provincial capital of the Ratanakiri province, was an authentic tunnel of threes that the sky was difficult to see for kilometers. Now well, that amazing picture is gone. It is history. The Ratanakiri jungle is like moving far from the road time to time, getting smaller day by day, being cut without any consideration. Not more wild animals.

The destruction of habitats it not only a disaster for the wild life and the global climate change. It means also a human disaster, since many human groups suffer too the consequence of displacement and even murder and intimidation.

Unfortunately, the floods do not take over the lands of the responsible of the jungle destruction. They live in very well-built houses in the best quarters of the cities or even in foreign countries. Those who get the worst consequence are the poorest of the country. Those powerful dark powers get the woods, get the money, get the best and let a dessert and farmers under the water…

Maybe we can contemplate other reasons to this terrible flood. But as for me, I think it is explained in the destruction of our beautiful jungles. Many of those jungles are sacred, because they are as old as the Khmer temples, with old trees sheltering wild species that now are in danger of disappear.

We need an authentic campaign to protect the environment, to respect the right of the rural and indigenous communities to land and to contribute to the care of our only planet. We have to understand that there are things without price. Things that cannot be bought.

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About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X39xwdGtVXI) and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (http://www.colombia.co/en/culture/colombians-that-are-making-this-a-better-world.html).

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