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Harnessing Sesan River (Part 3): Living a new life in resettlement areas

For many of the 500 families in Srekor villages and six other villages in Stung Treng province of Cambodia, life will never be the same when they are moved to resettlement areas following the completion of the Sesan II dam.

By Thai PBS

Stung Treng, Cambodia, June 1, 2016

55-year old Mrs Oom told Thai PBS that she didn’t want to be moved to the resettlement area but she had no choice. She is currently making a living to feed her six children by selling cookies and rice spaghetti noodles, rice farming and, occasionally, fishing in the Sesan river.

Mrs Oom admitted she had no idea where she could make money after being moved to the resettlement which is about seven kilometers from Srekor village where she has been living for decades.

Although she was promised a house built by the government, she said the resettlement has no river and, therefore, she will have no fish to eat or to sell to the other villagers. Worse still, the new farming land is not as fertile as the land in Srekor village.

Other villagers who do not want the houses built by the government are promised US$ 6,000 to build their own houses.

So far, 246 families out of a total of about 500 have signed up with the authorities expressing their willingness to move out from their present villages to resettlement areas.

Residents of Jrop village which is about two kilomtres from the dam site are moved to a new resettlement site about 25 kilometres away. Yet, several of them travelled back to Srekor village on almost daily basis by motorcycles to catch fish in the Srepok river for their own consumption and for sale if there is a surplus.

A villager in the resettlement told Thai PBS that he was given US$ 6,000 for a new house plus US$1,000 compensation for the loss of trees which are to go under water after the completion of the dam.

He admitted that life at the resettlement is never the same as he has to buy everything, including food and drinking water, because there is no river in the resettlement. Even water and fish are bought because there is no river, he said.

Srekor villagers who are yet to be moved out are likely to face the same fate like their neighbours who have already moved to the resettlements.

This story was produced in collaboration with The Mekong Eye and Mekong Matters Journalism Network, with full editorial control to the journalist and their outlet.


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