PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — The prime minister Tuesday called upon all elements in Cambodian society to mobilize to help deal with the worst drought in at least four decades, which has left about two-thirds of the country's 25 provinces short of water for drinking and other necessities.
The armed forces, civil servants, the Red Cross and political parties must all pitch in to ensure adequate water supplies reach people, Hun Sen said in a speech in the northwestern province of Banteay Meanchey.
He said he has ordered all provincial governors to stay in their home areas to help people instead of attending meetings in the capital.
However, he said he would not yet seek to declare a state of emergency.
Cambodia's bigger neighbors to the east and west, Vietnam and Thailand, also are suffering from droughts described as the worst in decades. Scientists generally have blamed El Nino, a cyclical phenomenon of warmer water in the equatorial Pacific Ocean that produces drier and hotter-than-usual weather in Southeast Asia.
Particularly hard hit have been farmers, left in many cases without water to irrigate their crops. Cambodia's last major drought, in 2005, caused food shortages.
Hun Sen said he had ordered setting up a national framework "to do whatever we can to make sure that people have water to use."
"Do not leaving any people at risk of their lives because of this shortage of water, this is my absolute order," he said. He appealed to the generosity of drinking water producers and other people to donate water and money to help those without supplies, adding that rain is unlikely to come until June.