Environment

Environment.

This beautiful country is located next to the Gulf of Thailand and is bordered by Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. With a total of 181,035 sq. km the country boasts plenty of rainfall during the monsoon season from April through to October. The summers are a hot 35 degrees (95 F) in April and May and an average 21 degrees C (70 F) in December and January.

The country’s flat flood plains are well suited for rice production which is the healthy staple diet of most Cambodians. Cambodian landscape varies, and along with the rice fields there are mountainous areas which rise abruptly from the flat fields. The largest natural reservoir, named the Tonle Sap (Great Lake), is in the central area, reversing its flow during the dry months into the Mekong River which runs from Laos in the north to Vietnam in the southeast.

Natural resources of Cambodia include lumber, although this has been very much reduced since the defoliation and illegal logging during the Vietnam War, as well as mineral reserves including iron ore, phosphates and limestone, none of which have not yet been exploited. Oil exploration is underway along the southern coast and gem stones are found in the northwest of the country.

Current Realities

1. Due to the poverty thriving in the country many young women have been driven into prostitution as a way of survival.
2. Cambodia has the highest H.I.V. infection rate in Asia with 100 new cases each day.

3. Due to the constant warfare between various groups over the past 30 years Cambodia still has many areas with life threatening landmines. There are between one and two million active landmines in the country and this has affected 1 in every 243 Cambodians, many of whom are disabled for life due to an accidental encounter with a landmine.

4. Landmines, poverty, poor healthcare, A.I.D.S., war, childbirth complications and malnutrition have all produced large numbers of orphaned children in Cambodia. The death rate from A.I.D.S. alone will produce approximately 40,000 new orphans by the end of the year 2005. The country has been handling these orphans through an extended family system, but can no longer handle the numbers of orphans. In addition to this, the selling of children by impoverished relatives makes family placement risky for the children.

Approximately 85% of Cambodians work for the country’s agricultural industry. The government employs mostly agrarian workers. For a family to survive in Cambodia they need to earn at least 50-150$ depending on which area they live. Governmental employees often find it difficult to support themselves. Most employees need two or even three jobs to be able to earn enough income. Some have developed other methods of income; teachers charge their pupils for extra lessons, and civil servants charge fees for their services

80% of the Cambodian population exceeds the international standard for poverty. Rich and powerful people have taken over the land. Climate hazards such as droughts and flooding have caused much damage, and medical emergencies and economic depression have forced many agrarian Cambodians to desert their land and sell, leaving the vast majority without resources and powerless.