Mekong River and Tonle Sap Lake: Cambodia Flood Recovery | Asian Development Bank

Mekong River and Tonle Sap Lake: Cambodia Flood Recovery

Article | 4 April 2012

A $55 million loan to Cambodia will restore roads and irrigation infrastructure destroyed by devastating floods in 2011.

Cambodia experienced widespread flooding in August 2011 when relentless rain caused the Mekong River and Tonlé Sap Lake to swell. The situation was worsened when typhoons Nesat and Nalgae - which had already devastated neighboring Viet Nam and the Philippines - created heavy monsoon rains and prompted what was to be the worst period of flooding in decades.

In the aftermath, an estimated 1.7 million people in Cambodia were affected, 250 of them dead. Thousands of homes were flooded, rice crops were destroyed, livestock drowned and drinking wells contaminated.

"The floods hit some of the poorest people in Cambodia, devastating a lot of families who lost everything," said Peter Brimble, a senior country economist with ADB's Cambodia Resident Mission. "A lot of rice fields were also inundated for long periods so the rice crop in certain areas was destroyed - it is estimated around 10 percent of the country's rice crop was lost."

Devastated infrastructure

He says the biggest long-term impact of the floods, however, was on roads and irrigation facilities. "As the water was up and down quite a lot, and stayed over the road surface for a long time, it created serious damage. We estimated that these floods caused nearly $400 million worth of damages to rural infrastructure."

Since the flood struck, in partnership with the Government of Cambodia, ADB has played a lead role in the reconstruction effort, initially providing $3 million in humanitarian funding, which included quick repairs to roads and irrigation facilities and provision of rice seeds to farmers.


And today, in recognition of the ongoing rebuilding that Cambodia needs, ADB has announced a new $55 million loan to restore key infrastructure in the worst-hit provinces. National, provincial and rural roads will be restored, alongside irrigation and flood control infrastructure. AusAID will contribute a further $5.25 million of grant financing towards the civic works.

"The six provinces covered by the project experienced significant rural road damage and also suffer from high poverty," says Brimble. "The majority of people that use these roads are rice farmers and it is crucial to our poverty alleviation agenda that we work to rebuild the road networks that help get their crops to market, as well as their communities reconnected."