“Where has all the water gone?”

Much of Cambodia is flat as a pancake–and floods every year. That is why the traditional houses are built on stilts. Large areas of the country are boeungs (lakes) which collect excess water in rainy periods and prevent some of the flooding. The boeungs around Phnom Penh also serve as aquaculture sites, like the one above, where vegetables are grown in the shallow water. But now, under relentless pressure from developers and their friends in government, the boeungs are being filled in, mostly to build factories and residence compounds. Above you can see the brown embankment with a road on top that has resulted when this boeung was partially filled to develop the housing compounds in the background. The rest of the boeung will likely be gone in a few short years. The developers make millions of dollars; the poor people are dispossessed and pushed out; and Phnom Penh floods because there’s no place now for the excess water to go.