City fighting lake squatters?

“Our goal is to make significant progress toward eliminating flooding in Phnom Penh before heavy rains return to the city in the middle of the year,” said by Municipal Public Works Director Keo Savin.

City administrators planned to dredge the lakes and reconstruct the canals so as to prevent flooding in Phnom Penh from stormy weather although the city’s geology and history are working against the project.

Boeung Trabek Lake is a reservoir that captures most of the city’s storm water, the function of reconstructing Phnom Penh is to increase the capacity of the overflowing lake. However, the project is not sufficient to solve the flooding problem.

The lake’s water capacity is gravely affected by squatter families who have made their homes on the banks. They have carted dirt to make “floating farms” on which they grow food to eat and sell their only means of living. Almost the entire surface of Boeung Trabek is covered with all these “floating farms.”

Three meetings have been held in attempt to resolve the dilemma, but they have seem to be futile. A Squatter named Na Tah has been a resident of the lake for a year along with his parents and nine siblings. The removal of these “floating farms” will devastate his family’s living.

Savin said they were working very hard to try to find an acceptable solution. Since the capital first moved from Udong to Phnom Penh, keeping flood waters out has been a problem since then.

Although the city is currently trying to figure out the best solution to solve the problem of flooding, compensating the side effects that infilling brings out. Many argue that the happen of these mobile squatter families are mainly due to the long term ignorance from the government, and thus, their living are rootly depends on the floating farms since they believe they are going to move soon not only because of the bad climate, but also the uncertainties about the State.


1. City fighting flood problem, but lake squatters to lose. (n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2015, from
2. Modern Khmer Cities, Vann Molyvann (2003)
3.Flooding in Phnom Penh City – Sahmakum Teang Tnaut. (2014, October 3). Retrieved December 19, 2015, from
4.City of Water. (n.d.). Retrieved December 21, 2015, from

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