The rehabilitation of the largest reservoir in Cambodia, the Trapaing Thmar, has opened doors for new growth opportunities in the country’s northwest province of Banteay Meanchey and its neighboring areas.
The renovated reservoir and associated irrigation infrastructure have more than doubled water supply for agricultural production to 35,000 hectares from 14,603 hectares in the wet season and to 7,702 hectares from 3,560 hectares in the dry season, said Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology Secretary of State Chann Sinath.
Mr. Sinath said improved irrigation has increased rice production in the Banteay Meanchey area, benefiting nearly 6,000 households. Farmers can now cultivate 2 to 3 harvests annually—compared to just once a year previously—with the average yield ranging between 7 and 11 tons per hectare.
The rehabilitated reservoir is also emerging as a tourist destination, drawing local visitors both from within Banteay Meanchey and neighboring provinces. It is a national protected area home to rare species of flora and fauna, apart from enjoying historic value as an ancient wetland. The reservoir’s embankments have been developed as roads, reducing travel time from one village to another.
The rehabilitation was made possible by assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) through an Additional Financing for the Cambodia Flood Damage Emergency Reconstruction Project implemented from 2014 to 2018. The $90.68 million project included a $75 million ADB loan, $9 million contribution from the Government of Cambodia, and $6.68 million cofinancing from the Government of Australia.
“Before ADB’s support to rehabilitate the reservoir, the facility could stock only about 100 million cubic meters of water. The rehabilitation increased the storage capacity to 200 million cubic meters. The government will expand the storage capacity to 300 million cubic meters,” said Mr. Sinath.
“With this huge water stock, we are modernizing the irrigation system in this area, making it a model for similar infrastructure across the country. This reservoir is now a tourist attraction for local visitors and home to abundant fish for residents,” he added.
With the reservoir siphoning off excess rainfall, it has also been able to control flooding along the province’s national road, said Mr. Sinath.
The project was undertaken in 2013 when severe floods damaged irrigation and road infrastructure in the provinces of Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom, Prey Veng, and Siem Reap. ADB responded to the crisis by supporting the government in rehabilitating the Trapaing Thmar reservoir and related irrigation facilities to help in the economic and social recovery of the affected provinces.