Since 2016, farmers in Cambodia’s Battambang province have been facing severe drought that has resulted in decline in rice production, deaths of livestock, and loss of livelihoods. The author explores whether building more reservoirs is a solution to help farmers cope with the impact of droughts that are recurring with increasing frequency in Cambodia and the Mekong Region.
From the Commons
Lower Klity Creek is the main source of water for the hundreds of Karen families living in the Thongpaphum district of Kanchanaburi province in western Thailand. For the last five decades, a lead factory has released toxic waste, poisoning the rivers and creeks and leading to illnesses and death from lead contamination in the water and food. The Jo family is one of the Karen families still living with the toxic contamination and living in unimaginable suffering. Even though the factory was shut down in 1998, the toxic legacy of poisoning remains. Although the villagers have fought and won court cases against the company to clean up the creek, so far the authorities have not provided any effective clean-up measures.
An increasing number of mainly young people migrate from provinces in Laos to Thailand for work. They can learn new skills and their cash income supports families in their home provinces But the migrant workers face many risks including work place dangers, human trafficking and safety and health issues.
The Ou River, the longest tributary of the Mekong in the Lao PDR, is undergoing massive changes, with seven dams in various stages of construction already affecting the livelihoods of Khmu communities that have resided there for generations. Sabrina Gyorvary recently visited the area with a local guide and recounts her conversations with community members as they recollect their memories of living with the Ou River.
Known as a national treasure of Cambodia, the Prey Lang forest in Preah Vihear province serves as the main source of livelihoods for indigenous people and is an indispensable part of the country’s forest ecosystem. In the last few years, the forest has come under destruction from logging and large-scale plantations. Youth campaigns are supporting the local communities, who depend on the forest, in an ongoing struggle to protect the forest areas from being completely wiped away.
Economic growth in Southeast Asia has bought jobs and increased state revenues, but also wrought labour rights violations, community dispossession of land and natural resources, and environmental degradation. Carl Middleton argues that economic reform starts with greater Corporate Accountability, including across borders.