Cycling home with 50kg of rice on the back of her bicycle, Roth Chantho’s smile conveys her happiness at receiving emergency food supplies following flooding in her commune in Kratie Province in the east of Cambodia.
37-year old Roth and her family are one of many affected by the massive floods which swept through large swathes of Cambodia from early September, 2011. Two-thirds of the country’s provinces were affected, devastating the lives of an estimated 1.5 million people.
Roth and her husband earn a living through casual labour in the agricultural sector, which provides just enough money for them to provide for their four children. This hand to mouth existence is made even harder by the fact that, four years ago, Roth was diagnosed as suffering from HIV.
When the floods came, they destroyed everything, including her home and any opportunity of finding work.
My family and I didn’t have anything to eat during the flooding because it destroyed everything and I could not go out to do manual labour
A few days before ActionAid Cambodia provided emergency support, Roth ran out of rice.
“The water flooded everywhere around my village. My husband and I were running out of rice and we had to pick up water spinach [a green leafy vegetable] from the flooded areas to be able to feed our children,” Roth continued.
As the waters started to recede, some of the wealthier farmers in Roth’s community began to replant their rice crops. But with few resources, starting over was not an option for Roth.
ActionAid Cambodia and its partners have been responding to the floods emergency since early September 2011, providing vital supplies of food and water purification kits and shelter material.
As our response progresses we are focusing on supporting people to rebuild their livelihoods through provision of seeds and livestock. So far we’ve reached nearly 37,000 of the most vulnerable – people just like Roth – but given the scale of the disaster it’s clear that the road to recovery will be a long one.