The setting sun paints the sky over Tonle Sap Lake lavender when fisherwoman Mrs. Samnang (32) pulls her net into her small boat with the help of her two children. Metal spray cans of RAID insecticide that they use to keep the net affloat bang against the boat. The catch is poor. “Nowadays we only catch small fish. All the big fish are gone,” she comments with a sad smile on her face. When asked for the reason, she just stares and says: “They say the Chinese have built dams in the river.”
Angkor Wat, the famous temple and Cambodia’s number one tourist attraction could never have been built without the water of the Mekong River. The different civilizations that ruled Angkor and the Southeast Asian region throughout hundreds of years depended heavily on fishing and the irrigation of rice fields through ponds that annually filled up when the Mekong water level rose in the monsoon season.
A lot is happening with Disputed Waters. Ronald and André (a new contributor, check out his bio) arrived in Cambodia to spend five days with fishermen that are suffering from declining fish levels. Célia, another new contributor, has left for Israel to cover the problems surrounding the Jordan River. Her posts will soon appear here as well.