– Venerable Buddhist Monks,
– Your Excellency Shinohara Katsuhiro, the Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia,
– Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
– International and National Guests,
– Teachers, Compatriots and Students!
Today it is my distinct honor and pleasure to join again with Excellency Shinohara Katsuhiro, the Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, government officials, international and national guests to, particularly visit our compatriots, teachers and students in the official inauguration ceremony of <<Kandal Steung’s Irrigation System Rehabilitation Project>>, located in Kandal Steung district Kandal province, under cooperation grant provided by Japanese government and its people, to the Royal Government of Cambodia and Cambodians. The achievements that we are about to inaugurate today include the construction of automatic river-crossing water-gate, concrete main canal and other important constructions. Indeed, these constructions represent another new symbol of the close and lasting friendship between Cambodia and Japan after the recent groundbreaking ceremony of the “Second Phase of the Phnom Penh Flood Prevention and Sewage System Improvement Project” which was held on 13 December 2007.
Indeed, besides these two development projects, the Japanese government has provided a lot of grants and is the leader in providing mental and material supports to Cambodia. Besides, this soon-to-be inaugurated << Kandal Steung’s Irrigation System Rehabilitation Project>> has definitely contributed to the poverty reduction in this region in conformity to the policies of the Royal Government’s Rectangular Strategy which concentrates on promoting economic growth, employment, equity, social justice as well as enhancing the efficiency of public sector by adopting many comprehensive and thorough reform programs.
Geographically, Cambodia is a country full of water resources including rivers, lakes, underground reservoirs and sea which are the key sources of water supply for national economic development. Moreover, Cambodia’s Mekong River system, including the Tonle Sap river, serves not only as the foundation for economic development but also preserves the ecological system. Actually, a part of the Mekong River in Cambodia provides about 75,000 millions cubic meters of water per year, excluding the quantity of water at the rain fall regions and underground water that is estimated to be around 17,600 millions cubic meters. This quantity is 100 times bigger than the water consumed at the present time. Moreover, there is about 475,000 millions cubic meters of water flows through Cambodia to the Southern China Sea every year.
Although, Cambodia has plenty of water during rainy season as mentioned above, the ability to extract the benefit from this water for agriculture, industry, daily usage and other purposes is still limited. Apparently, during rainy seasons some areas have plenty of water while other areas are in shortage of water because of underdeveloped irrigation infrastructures. At the same time, there are many other problems that caused blockages of the water’s currents of rivers, canals and lakes, and at some areas the irrigation system has completely disappeared. These factors bring us even greater challenges during both drought and flooding seasons. Hence, to address these challenges, the Royal Government has declared that the government of the Third Legislature of National Assembly is the <<Irrigation Government>>.
Practically, in the development vision of the Royal Government which is clearly reflected in the “Rectangular Strategy”, the National Water Resource Policy is a component of the Royal Government’s comprehensive agendas to provide a foundation for the protection, management and utilization of fresh water, salt water, and sea water resources as well as for the equitably sustainable development of biodiversity and effective provision of public services.
To address this issue, the Royal Government focuses on supplying safe and clean water to everyone, especially on protecting people’s lives from water-related hazards. At the same time, along with the assurance of toxic-free water environment and supporting the environment for fishes and ecological system, the Royal Government pays great attention to supplying adequate water wherever needed to ensure food security, people’s livelihood, more active economic activities, and better people’s living standard.
Particularly, although the Royal Government is still facing with the shortage of fund, machineries, and equipments; we have achieved an encouraging result in the rehabilitation and construction of our irrigation system. Over the past three years, from 2004 to 2006, the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology has actively pushed the maintenance and construction of irrigation systems which guaranteed the additional 450,000 hectares of irrigated area.
To implement this spirit further, the Royal Government has been implementing some important action plans to ensure adequate supply of water for agricultural production as follows:
1. Rehabilitation of existing irrigation systems to respond to emergent needs of water for agriculture.
2. Encouraging the strengthening and expansion of reservoirs, canals and water absorption and drainage systems to ensure adequate water supply and environmental sustainability. With regards to this point, the Royal Government will continue to strengthen the capacity of water-consuming farmer communities to enhance the management and development of irrigation systems, with the support and investment from development partners and private sector.
3. Conducting feasibility study and preparing a work plan for short, medium and long-term development of river basins, as well as giving attention to the change of rivers’ water condition, water current, and underground water to ensure sustainable water consumption in the present and future.
4. Preparing mixed approaches on the development and management of water resources by taking into account all sources of water, and the linkage between water resources and agricultural production, strategy and management of land usage, and environmental work.
Indeed, to accomplish these work plans, the most important factor is to mobilize the participation from farmer communities, development partners and private sector.
As mentioned by H.E. Lim Kean Hor in his report, Kondal Steung’s irrigation system will benefit 2800 families, which is equivalent to 13,400 inhabitants in 7 communes of kondal Steung District, Kondal Province. At the same time, an area of 1,950 hectares is irrigated by Kandal Steung’s irrigation system, which is a model irrigation system and the Ministry will continue to disseminate the technical aspects of this model nationwide. In addition to these benefits, Kandal Steung’sirrigation system does not only prevent flood, reduce flooding in Phnom Penh and minimizing the damages of people’s crops and properties caused by flood in Khan Dong Kor and Kandal Steung District, this Kandal Steung’s irrigation system also acts as an important rural transport network and an attractive tourism resort. These benefits are priceless.
Therefore, this new achievement belongs to all of us, and those inhabitants in Kandal Steung District and Khan Dang Kor are the direct beneficiaries. Taking this opportunity, I would like to appeal to all Cambodian people to look after this important achievement to ensure its sustainability by closely cooperating with all levels of authorities and relevant agencies.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my profound gratitude and reiterate that the successful implementation ofKandal Steung’s irrigation system rehabilitation project is initiated by the highly responsible spirit of the leaders and officials of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, with participation from the Ministry of Economy and Finance, CMAC, Phnom Penh Municipality, Kandal Provincial Hall, all levels of authorities and local people who actively support the implementation of this rehabilitation project until achieving positive results as witnessed today. Particularly, I’d like to thank those people living in the irrigated areas who have given up a portion of their land for the irrigation project. This contribution is seen as a unity which pushes the development of Kandal Steung’s irrigation system to its full potentials.
Once again, with the presence of H.E. Shinohara Katsuhiro, the Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia, I would like to extend my profound gratitude to the Government of Japan and its people that have always been the leading supporter of Cambodia. I highly appreciate the cooperating friendship and all kinds of support provided by the Government of Japan and its people to Cambodian people to develop this country.
Finally, in the inauguration ceremony of “Kandal Steung’s Irrigation System Rehabilitation Project”, I would like to wish Your Venerable Monks, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, teachers, students, and all compatriots with the 5 Gems of Buddhist Blessings.