Killer Heatwave Ravages South-east Asia

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Data from the Weather Underground, a commercial weather service reveals that, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia have recorded temperatures up to 44.6°C (112.4°F), beating all-time national highs. Drought, severe heat and water shortages are disrupting schools, killing animals and ravaging rice crops in Southeast Asia.

Singapore too, has seen abnormally high temperatures, while in Malaysia, lakes have dried up and vegetable output has withered.

In Cambodia, school children have vastly diminished water supplies. Srey Norn, a 13-year-old girl from Tboung Khmum Province said that, “It is very difficult to get water for the latrines because some wells have dried up and I have many friends who don’t come to school because it is too hot”.

Hen Seha, Srey Norn’s teacher was concerned when she said, “I have seen an increase in absenteeism of 30 or 40%. I want to install a fan but our school doesn’t have any electricity”.

Iman Morooka, Chief of Communication at UNICEF Cambodia added that, when there are no toilets; Children either go in the bush or would return home, particularly girls and may not return back to the school afterwards”.

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In Kampong’s Chnang Province, a water source for school children has become stagnant and disease-ridden. Hun Heng, Director of the local school Support Committee said that, “Even if they filter this water before drinking it, they will get diarrhea and fever and if they use it for bathing their skin will get irritated with red spots and dryness”.

The Cambodian government has responded by reducing school hours during the hottest period of the day but teachers say there have been no extra funds to buy water.


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