Phnom Penh is vulnerable to flooding Cambodia’s raining season starts from May until the late of October. Base on statistic of the Phnom Penh Department of Public Work and Transportation, Phnom Penh has a drainage system comprised of 732 Kilometers in total and 44,807 wells. Due to heavy raining, Phnom Penh often struggles with flooding which greatly caused by poor and insufficient drainage systems. Insufficient drainage system caused problems everywhere when it rains, especially residential area in southern part of the capital.
Many major lakes in Phnom Penh, however, have been filled in already. When most of the lakes are landfilled, it reduces the capital capacity to deal with flooding issues. By 2016, there are 25 lakes had been filled in by the Phnom Penh Municipal Hall. Boeung Kak Lake, a lake of nearly 90 hectares, is an example. It had been filled in by Shukaku Incorporated to create a site for development. Furthermore, some existing canals are also not full function or/and may not be able to release water quickly. Besides, when it rains, we can see rubbish piled up at the drainage’s cover, which significantly reduce the water’s flowing speed.
Despite the fact that urban development in Phnom Penh is rapidly growth, some residents are left behind. The poor often become vulnerable to the capital major challenges, especially induced flooding which caused by insufficient waste management system. To response to great challenges in the capital, Phnom Penh urgently needs the city planning, leadership and regulation in order to implement the plan to help the poor. Over the years, approximately 250,000 to 300,000 Phnom Penh’s residents are affected by flood during the raining seasons.
Inclusive approach should be applied in order to maintain drainage system, and can be used to promote good cooperation and understanding between communities and public authorities. For instance, along Boeung Trabek sewage canal, we see clutter of wooden and zinc shanty houses at the water’s edge. Such living condition causes serous hazard to this community. Without proper clearance of trash, the canal’s surface is full of waste, plastic bottle in particular. Consequently, the community has health risk including dire, which high incidence of skin disease, respiratory infections, and diarrhea and eyes rashes. Women and children have high proportion of affection.
The trash and open drainage canal is a heaven for all kinds of bacteria, viruses and parasites. However, Phnom Penh’s poor residents are living in social and health risk on open sewage canals. Nowhere is this more obvious than communities that are living along –and above drainage system that cuts through the capital. Along drainage canal, we can see the poorest communities are residing at due to the fact that the rental cost is mostly among the cheapest in Phnom Penh.
From my perspective, the authority must have a master development plan for flood protection and drainage improvement in Phnom Penh. In 2017, Phnom Penh Municipal Hall built the capital’s drainage system approximately 100 Kilometers, and planned to repair at least 900 Kilometers of the drainage system in 2018. However, in term of waste drainage system, small streets and difficult area to get access to in Phnom Penh still lack of canals or drainage sewage system. As a good example, with assistance from the Japan International Cooperation (JICA), Cambodia will build the first wastewater treatment plant in Khan Dangkor’s Phnom Penh. This treatment plant cost $27 million in the first step. This wastewater treatment plan will necessarily function as the clean up water station before it drained into rivers and lakes in the city.