Hundreds of residents in five villages in southern Cambodia have been deprived of their sole source of water as a massive pond in their area has dried up, villagers said.
The affected villagers of Sre Ronnong commune in Takeo Province's Tram Kork district have been buying water from businessmen since the pond could not be used from late last year, with each household forking out about 15,000 riels (about U.S. $4) per week for the vital resource.
It is a relatively big sum in Cambodia where poverty remains a fundamental issue and a majority of the population live on less than U.S. $2 a day.
Local authorities had tried but failed for the last two months to restore the 22-hectare (54-acre) pond for residents of five of 17 villages in Sre Ronnong commune relying on it as their sole source of water, villagers said.
Those in the 12 other villages had also used the pond, but they have wells as alternative sources of water.
Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) has promised to restore the pond this month amid increasing pressure from the villagers.
Villager Thun Trol, 46, said that each week, she had to buy water three times for consumption by the family and their livestock, blaming CPP politicians for failing to honor their promise of swiftly restoring the pond.
“I am buying water, it is very difficult,” she said. “Each time, it costs me about 5,000 riel (U.S $1.20). We are already poor, now we are buying water. We pay less for food but much for water. "