Phnom Penh (1999-2015) / Hydraulic Infrastructure Development IV

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in partnership with Cambodia’s Ministry of Public Works and Transportation, and the Municipality of Phnom Penh, started in 1999 to improve the city’s drainage system. However, Daniel Otis reported that “work has progressed at a snail’s pace due to funding constraints and the disruptions that construction causes to the city’s already chaotic traffic patterns”. And fundamental problems of litter clogging up the existing pipes cost a lot of money and time.

The phase I and II of the project took place in 2002 and 2007 respectively with the total amount of $59 million. Phase I targeted at South-Western part of the city to improve drainage sluiceway/channels, construct drainage sluiceways and pumping station, and to reinforce dikes. Phase II aimed at improving the drainage systems in North-Eastern area, including construction of an underground reservoirs, pumping stations, riverbank revetment, and interceptor pipe along Tonle Sap River Park. JICA claimed that Phase I and II succeeded in lessening the damage of floods in the targeted areas. Phase III is projected to be completed by October 2015 (Fig.1).

The improvements brought about by Phase I and II of the project might have been outweighed by the drawbacks of infilling Boeung Kak Lake. From 2011-2015, major floods have still happened and flooding remains a tricky problem till now. People remain skeptical to the new infrastructure because the previous two phases were not exceptionally successful after their completion.


Figure 1 – Phase III construction as of 2015 (Source: JICA)

Phase III targets the drainage networks in South-Eastern part of Phnom Penh. According to JICA, apon the completion of Phase III, about 230 thousands residents, about 2,600 stores/markets, and 60 public centers in the targeted area would be protected from the devastating consequences of flood (Fig. 2&3).

Figure 2 – Expected outcome after the completion of Phase III (Source: JICA)

Figure 3 – Expected outcome after the completion of Phase III (Source: JICA)

To date, it has not been reported that Phase III of the project has already been completed, even if it was expected to.


Hook, L. (2010, October 15). In Phnom Penh, When it Rains it Floods. Retrieved December 21, 2015, from

Otis, D. (2013, November 4). Can Japanese Engineering Fix Phnom Penh’s Creaky Drainage Infrastructure? Retrieved December 21, 2015, from

Drennan, J. (2012, August 7). Floods in Phnom Penh likely to worsen. The Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved December 21, 2015, from

JICA. (2013, October 28). Retrieved December 21, 2015, from

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