We had planned months ago to go to Cambodia on Nov 6-10, to visit the temples in Angkor. Today, we found out that there has been flooding since August 2011. This made us hesitate slightly, but we've now decided to go ahead anyway. Instead of seeing Angkor however, we will volunteer with the flood relief efforts in Battambang.
We will help DCO and CWARS with medical/logistics in Battambang, for the entire five days of our trip. Battambang is the rice capital of Cambodia, where 170,000 hectares is now destroyed. The city has a lot of flood-displaced people now, given that it's on relatively higher ground, and is the biggest city in the province. I have spoken to DCO, CWARS and a New York Times journalist to find out more about the situation on the ground.
The floods in Cambodia are little-publicised, mostly due to the concurrent (and “popular”) floods in Thailand/Bangkok. Devastatingly, the Cambodian floods have hit 75% of the country since August 2011, and there have been at least 60 deaths so far (the fewer people die in natural disasters = the more survivors you have to care for). The water is receding, and now "the tips of ruined rice stalks peek above the surface". In Battambang, we're looking at upwards of 6000 displaced people managed by the two NGOs, facing hunger, diarrhoea and water-borne illnesses.
1.2 million people are displaced (8% of the population), and the young government is incapable of rendering aid, leaving NGOs to fill the gap. The Thailand government is richer and more stable, and they have activated their military – these options are unavailable to Cambodia.
Therefore, we'd like to plead for your help, during this difficult time for an already-unlucky country. Please consider donating any amount that you'd like to the flood relief efforts in Cambodia. One option is to donate directly to any flood relief appeals in your country.
Alternatively, please pledge any amount you'd like to us, and any pledges we receive by email/text message before we fly off from Singapore on 6 Nov, will be converted into cash and brought to Cambodia for the NGOs we are working with. The cash will be used to purchase medicines, food and water. Clean water is the obvious need, and I aim to have a long-term practical solution to this problem, and will concentrate resources to this end. A preliminary idea is to use Lifestraw as a short-to-medium term answer. Longer-term plans will be to engage the government/raise media awareness to have proper piping systems, but this is multi-stakeholder challenge.
For transparency, all pledges will be made public, unless you opt out of this arrangement. Receipts and acknowledgements from the NGO/flood appeals will be provided wherever possible.
Many best wishes,
Kar Yee and Swee Kheng"
Let's do something to help the unlucky ones. Anyone who wishes to make the donation can contact Swee Kheng here.