Cambodia is a small country in the Indo-China peninsula. Vietnam, Thailand and Laos are on the three sides of the country and the fourth side is occupied by the South China Sea. Before May 1989 it was known as the People's Republic of Kampuchea. From October 1970 to May 1975 the country was called as Khumer Republic. Cambodia can be called as an under-developed country, and about 50% of the total land of the country is covered in forests. So it is not a highly industrialized country even it is not urbanized too (Piola 329-342).
The country also faces the environmental problems as with the rest of the World, most importantly the under developed and developing countries. The basic problem of the countries lies in the lack of resources in these areas, and along it brings out several other problems which directly and indirectly effect the state of environment in the countries. Along with these problems Cambodia faces a huge number of natural disasters every year, which also contribute to the natural calamities of the place (Lee 1238-1246).
Cause and Consequences of the Environmental Problems:
Though Cambodia is a small country it has got many rivers and all the major rivers in the country either drain into the Tonle Sap or the Mekong River. The zone is divided into three different parts by the Cardamom Mountains and the Elephant Range. In the eastern part the rivers flow into the Tonle Spa, the rivers of the West flow into the Gulf of Thailand and the southern rivers flow towards the south of the eastern part of the divide (Benndorf 466-478).
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Mekong flows southward from the border of Cambodia and Laos. From the Kracheh city it takes a west for 50 kilometer and runs towards the south west part of Phnom Penh. Some small seasonal rivers flow over the Kracheh city, and the gradient slope of the part creates the occasional flood in the areas of the river bank. The Tonle Sap is formed by the seasonal flow of water. In the months of September and October, due to the huge amount of monsoon rains the Mekong River overflows and immerses the delta surrounding the river. It gradually flows towards the North and finally empties the water into the Tonle Sap. As the result of the empting the water of the Mekong River the Tonle Sap overflows. And as it over flows its general size of 2590 sq km becomes 24605 sq km (Lapan 1-18).
As per the above discussion it is clear that Cambodia is a place where floods are one of the regular aspects. But these recurring floods are not only very big blow to the economy of the places where it occurs it leaves a strong impact on the climate of the place too. After the flood many plants get decayed and many animals die. These decayed plants and animal corpses are carried with the flood water to different places. Slowly these bodies get decomposed as per the environmental process and due to these cases the atmosphere of these places gets polluted. Other than that the decayed substances also get dissolved into the ground and in the fresh water bodies which causes the post flood famines in the country.
After the floods a new layer of sediment gets deposited on the Tonle Sap, and with the yearly floods and poor drainage systems the surrounding areas of the lake transformed into marshlands. In the dry season these marsh lands become unstable for agriculture. But comparative lesser amount of slit is carried away by the Mekong River which gradually slits the lake and decreases the water level in the dry season which ultimately triggers out water scarcity in the dry season (Lehmann 25-34).
The country also suffers from draught but this happens occasionally. The draughts are mainly caused by the soil erosion and the reduction of the fertility of the soli due to many cases and the fertility of the soil lessens in many cases. It ultimately declines the agricultural yield in many cases. As Cambodia is a primary agricultural country it is very important to cope up with the problem.
The use of fertilizers and pesticides are increasing every day. There are several groups of pesticides like insecticides, fungicides and herbicides. The insecticides are made of chlorine, phosphorous and carbonate chemicals like DDT. The herbicides are used for the weeds and these cause less harm to the environment then the general insecticides used in the processes. Herbicides also do not affect the soil for a long time, and Atrazine, Propachlor are examples of herbicides.
Generally the fungicides are used in the vegetable firms and orchards. The factors like the type of the soil, the depth of the water table, infiltration of the rain fall and most importantly the persistence of the compounds in the soil are determining factors of the entry of pesticide in the ground water. There are some water soluble pesticides used in the processes and they easily get dissolved into the ground water and enter into foods which can have adverse effect on the health of both human and animals (Piola 329-342).
There are several pesticides that contain aromatic compounds which do not get degraded even after washing the food-grains and vegetables. And these pesticides along with the food can cause serious health hazards. The water soluble pesticides can cause cancer, other than birth defects and mutation of genes in the new born children. Some pesticides can also affect the immune system and the endocrine system which leaves a long lasting impact on the effected erosion (Lee 1238-1246).
The water pollution has created a long lasting effect on the aquatic plants and animals of Cambodia. The deaths due to the different water born diseases are readily increasing. Different types of poisonous sewage wastes, plastic packets in the water bodies have killed many aquatic animals and plants. Deaths caused from water born diseases are increased in an alarming number.
Other than the floods there are many other causes of water pollution in Cambodia. The causes are waters running from industries and factories, septic tanks, wastes from hospitals, oil secretion from the water vehicles and wastes thrown from the construction sites are some of them. Phnom Penh is an industrial area and the waters are highly polluted from thrown from the industries. In the agricultural areas the poisonous pesticides gets dissolved in the ground waters and adversely effect human and animal health. The extracted minerals interact with both the ground and surface water to pollute the water resources (Lapan 1-18).
Air pollution, which is a serious problem in the South American countries, is also prevailing in the country. Due to the increase of the air pollution the percentage of oxygen in atmosphere is reducing day by day. And one of the most important aspects of the problem is the different types of lungs based diseases of people. The poisonous gases in the atmosphere are killing small animals and birds along with adversely affecting the human life. Continuous exposure to chemicals like fluoride causes a disease called fluoric which affects teeth and bones.
As in South America, the air pollution is causing disastrous effects in the vegetation of the country too. The ultimate result of it is less and less rainfall which causes dryness and scarcity of water through out the country. Soil erosion reduces the loss of vegetation. The industrial areas like Phnom Penh severely suffer from air and water pollution (Benndorf 466-478).
One of most important occupations of Cambodia is mining. Degradation of the soil, pollution of surface and other ground water resources created adverse impacts on the mining operations of the country. Deforestation has caused loss of flora and fauna, and the tribal population has not been relocated. Different types of historical monuments have also been impacted by the environmental changes in Cambodia. The regular loss of top soil due to the deforestation also depleted ground water resources and in the hill areas sources of water like springs and streams have been dried up. In the areas of Kandal, Kralie etc have arsenic in the water which is measured about 50ppb (Lehmann 25-34).
A recent survey has shown that more than 46 kg of solid waste is disposed from the city of Phnom Penh alone. As the people are poor, they also suffer for malnutrition (Piola 329-342). Along with that poor governmental policies on different environmental issues, have also made the people to suffer. Lacks of hygiene, illiteracy are some other aspects that made the people of Cambodia to suffer.
Suitable Remedies to Control the Environmental Pollution:
There are several ways in which the government can reduce the environmental pollution of Cambodia. Using remote sensing the impacts on ecology and environment can be carried out. Preparation of broad land use, different types of forest and vegetation covers with the use of the Landsat data can be prepared. The streams of rivers and streams can be prepared along with the drainage pattern maps. Other than that different types of geomorphic maps of the area can be used to show the land forms. Aerial multi-special data along with special photographs can be taken by flying over the river basin which will enable detailed discussion of the studies in the areas of Cambodia (Lee 1238-1246).
The charring capacities of the rivers can be find out by the periodical digging of the river beds. In the case of a country the health and human development form an integral component of the overall socio-economical development of the nation. The government should try to implement more and more development programs for the general development of the people like primary education, family welfare, general health care services, disease control etc.
One has to keep in mind that the forests are renewable resources and they can be an important contributor to the economic development of the economic development of any country, and it is the same with Cambodia. Heavy deforestation has caused soil erosion and unstable atmospheric equilibrium is two very important concerns of the country. Dams should be constructed in the rivers to prevent from flooding and water storage for use in the dry months (Benndorf 466-478).
Industrial pollution can be controlled with the means of cleaner production. The product-processes will be systematic and it will also encompass the energy and raw material conservation. The toxic substances will be reduced along with the pollutants. These aspects will be done in a cost effective way. Different methods, like end of pipe devises are generally used in order to control the pollutants coming from the industries, which lessen the hazards before they fall in the water, in the way lessening chance of water pollution.
The domestic wastes can be reduced to prevent the pollution. Waste management techniques like garbage recycling along with other waste products can save the resources and reduce the environmental pollution. Many things that can be used domestically can be used by the recycled products. The fertilizers produced in the process help to increase the fertility of the soil too (Lapan 1-18). All the technical knowledge of operating the machines can be learned from the countries that are successfully using them.
Llama dung, one of the most common things in Cambodia can be used in reduce water pollution. It is a common process used in Bolivia, to treat the poisonous water which comes from the tin and silver mines. Harvesting fishes and oysters can reduce water pollution. Different aquatic plants can also serve the purpose (Lehmann 25-34).
Measures taken by the Thailand Government to control pollution:
To reduce the environmental pollutions a five year plan was set up in the year 1980. In the year 1985, the ministry of Environment and Forests formed to ensure the basic purpose. And as per the process many enactments have been produced which are now being maintained by both the state governments and the central government, like the Water Act of 1974, the Air Act of 1981, The Water Prevention and Pollution Act of 1977 and most importantly the Environment Protection Act of 1986 etc (Piola 329-342). The Environment Protection Act of 1986 has several very important aspects of protecting the environment, and the important points of the Act are:
1. Conferring powers on the central government to take all the necessary measures to protect the quality of environment; co-ordination of the activities of the states, different officials and other authorities in the regard; plan and subsequently execute a national program to protect the environment; a new standard has to be issued in the case of pollutants; and give authority to officials to close down any facility that are proved to be harmful for the environment.
2. General persons can complain to the court if they notice any problem with the government officials or the laws that aim to protect the environment.
3. The person responsible for the environment has to be aware of all the industries in the area and if it is noticed that the pollutants are creating problems then he or she must contact with immediate authorities and take subsequent measures to stop the facility from producing the pollutants.
4. Any violation of the laws will be strictly penalized by the order of the law.
5. The general jurisdictions of the court of law are barred under the Act (Lee 1238-1246).
The Ministry of Environment and Forest has announced a policy statement in the case and in 1992, they have said that the key elements in pollution prevention are adoption of the best available technologies. Clean technologies are being assembled in the industries, which gradually improved the water quality, and also the living conditions of the common people have been improved. Along with that an eco-mark label has been launched by the government to ensure the products are environment friendly.
Under the E(P) Act of 1986, some 55 industries have been notified and 84 laboratories are set for environmental researches. The emission from the industries has been controlled under the Minimum National Standards. Action plans have been taken to formulate the flow of the rivers for treatment and most importantly to produce energy. The liquid wastes that were earlier thrown into the river are controlled along with the establishment of pumping stations and other sewage treatment plants (Benndorf 466-478).
Community toilets are being made for the population; automobiles which are in use for more than 15 years have been subsequently banned. The Forest Conservation Act of 1980 was created to check the deforestation and it has worked well. In 1990, National Forest Fund has been set up which involves the different village communities and several voluntary agencies for the regeneration of the degraded forest lands. Several dams have been constructed for the purpose of irrigation and providing water supply in the dry areas of the country too.
In Thailand the methods have succeeded to some extent. But still there are several aspects that slowed the success. As it is a developing country, more than 60% of the total population is illiterate, and they still have the orthodox mentalities like not sending their wards to educational institutes and engaging them with professional work to earn money from an early age. Corruption is a very poignant factor and it is present in all the stages of administration. But still the population is developing and it is a very important factor in the process of pollution. Water pollution has been increased and it has affected the ecosystem of both the water and underground which ultimately effected the population adversely (Lapan 1-18).
The matter of water supply remains a very important concern in the case. And the aspect is divided into two broad categories, the discharge of pipes; emissions from the industries are being regulated by the government in recent times to control the water pollution. But still there are several non point sources of pollution which are hard to identify in the process. Aspects like motor oil splashes or oil spills from other sources, slitting from farming, logging and other types of construction processes are significant in the process. There is an example of water pollution from these aspects in California where the ground water was affected due to similar reasons. The contamination of water can generally create adverse effect on human health along with other animals and plants (Lehmann 25-34).
The government of Cambodia has to take plans to protect the environment of the country. These plans should be materialized and all the different parts of the government along with the general population have to take part in the process. All the non-governmental organizations also can play a very important role in the process. The protection of the environment will only increase the living standards of the common people of the country and finally the socio-economical condition of the country will be developed.
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