Phnom Penh / Flooding as a Persistent Threat
Flooding has been an unresolved issue in Phnom Penh since the early centuries. Situated at the Mekong River Delta, Phnom Penh is surrounded by many water bodies, including the River Tonle Sap, River Basaac and River Mekong (Fig.1). The whole city falls in the downstream area of the above-mentioned rivers. The elevation map (Fig.2) below marks the low-lying area (<7.5m above sea level in blue; 7.5-10m above sea level in green) in Phnom Penh – which basically covers the entire city already. Flooding is not only damaging homes and properties, but it also kills people and blocks the circulation of a city.
“(in the event of a major flood)… 300,000 people would lose their homes… you can’t imagine what could happen here.”
Van Molyvann, The City He Built, New York Times, 2005
The following picture (Fig.3) was taken in 1934, showing two people paddling in front of the National Museum. Sarcastically, the situation has not been improved a lot. From this picture taken in 2013 (Fig.4), many households are still under the threat of flooding nowadays.
Figure 3 (Left) (Source: Nicole Groslier); Figure 4 (Right) (Source: Siv Channa)
Comparing the flooding maps in 2005 and 2012 (Fig.5-6), flooding areas in Phnom Penh have become more scattered, with an increase in total flooding area. This signifies the deterioration of flooding. Till now, the sewage system of Phnom Penh is still far from sufficient to cater the people living around.
Sokhean, B., & Henderson, S. (2013, September 30). Flooding in Phnom Penh Nears Emergency Level. The Cambodia Daily. Retrieved December 7, 2015, from https://www.cambodiadaily.com/archives/flooding-in-phnom-penh-nears-emergency-level-43859/
Doyle, S. (December 2012). Phnom Penh – City of Water. SAHMAKUM TEANG TNAUT. Retrieved December 7, 2015, from http://teangtnaut.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/City-of-Water-Report.FINAL_3.pdf
IAU îdF (2007). Livre Blanc du Developpement et de l’amenagement de Phnom Penh. 176-179.