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Cambodia Warns Drought, Floods Could Create Food Shortage - 2002-10-10

Government officials say that this year's mix of drought and floods will create food shortages that could affect nearly one million people across Cambodia next year.

Cambodian officials from the National Disaster Control Committee warn that a combination of droughts and floods, which affected some 3.4 million people this year, have already ruined $30 million worth of rice crops.

Officials say this year's floods are not likely to create a famine, but they do fear that up to one million people may see food shortages. The floods killed at least 29 people this year.

Cambodia's economy depends heavily on rice farming, with farmers relying on the May to October monsoon rains for crop irrigation. But officials are saying that a lack of rain until mid August destroyed an estimated $21 million worth of early rice crops, while floods damaged an additional $9 million worth of crops.

The flooding along the Mekong River in Cambodia's eastern provinces followed record rainfall upriver in China, Laos and Vietnam. In August, flood waters in the Upper Mekong reached their highest levels since 1966.

Government statistics show that heavy flooding in the past two years killed more than 400 people and caused $180 million in damage.