Cambodia feels the hottest year on record

Cambodia draught and fires April 16 2016

In the middle of the dessert view, the green spots are consumed by uncontrolled fires caused by plastic garbage or vandals willing to clean the land from vegetation.

       Global warming is here and we caused it. On Friday, April 15, the temperature in Phnom Penh reached 40 degrees Celsius at midday, not so much different from Saigon, Bangkok and Vientiane, marking a Southeast Asian drought that is already concerning the economies of the region.  

       Definitively, it does not concern people used to stay in cool casinos, aircon offices and expensive cars in the cities, with clean running water in their luxurious residences. It is a horrible story for poor farmers in a country like Cambodia. A good example is what is happening with ethnic minorities in Ratanakiri province (read Ratanakkiri Running Out of Water Amid Worst Drought in Years“, The Cambodia Daily, April 4, 2016).

       Definitively, the drought is not caused by the Mekong dams of China and Laos, but dams are not by sure helpful in a highly water dependent region like the Mekong basin. It’s curious to know that China has “discharged” water into downstream Mekong. Well, if dams are not to be blamed, why China has “given” such a “gift” to its Mekong neighbors. Water is a natural resource and thus a right of the people. It is not what Nestlé CEO Peter Brabeck said in 2013 that “water is not a right, but an exploitable resource and commodity that should be leveraged for money.” Although we all agree that Brabeck is out of mind, the cruel reality is that many multinationals and some ambitious and little democratic governments think the Brabeck’s way and act accordingly, although his diplomatic correction stating that “water is a human right“.

       The 2015 Paris climate deal is too late and the worst is that it was delayed by selfish economic interests from every corner of the world. It was always more important to keep up the fossil energy than to prevent an irreversible global climate change that would put in danger the human survival. It shows also that the real world leaders are the powerful multinationals. They are the ones to set the global agendas, to tell us when it would be possible to sign a global agreement and how. The example of fossil energy is very much important because it is not only to depend on an environment-damaging power to keep up the modern metropolis of our time, but it is also providing financial power to countries that shelter hate and live under barbarian rules. The sad part is that nature will show us at any time that it is more powerful than any powerful multinational when we will face global disasters in the next decades if we do not change the systems.

       Countries like Cambodia are in the middle of two hopeless realities: the controlling power of multinationals and the countries they represent that see Cambodia as a source of natural resources over the head of poor people, and a weak democracy where everything becomes commercial: a jungle has a commercial price, a lake, a river, a beach, an island, even people has a commercial price. In this background, it’s impossible to see real and practical policies to protect the country during phenomenons like El Niño that can destroy the fragile economies of farmers, increasing poverty to unexpected numbers and sadden consequences.

       The Cambodian agenda should be, definitively, to state a strict protection of jungles, the real source of water, to crush on the general bad garbage management (specially to stop to use plastic), to control over fishing, to protect endangered animal and flora species and to create a national educative campaign where every Cambodian citizen becomes an environmentalist… This is definitively the solution, because it will ensure sustainability and future for the next generations. Otherwise, Mother Nature will pass a high bill to us, when our country becomes an empty dessert.


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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, and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (

One response to “Cambodia feels the hottest year on record”

  1. Arjay Stevens says :

    You’re totally right, but don’t forget that Cambodians themselves destroy their environment – day by day – cutting and burning down their own forests. Last week I saw with my own eyes burning woods inside Kirirom National park. “Kingdom of Wonder” Oh, my Buddha!

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