The population of Cambodia is estimated to be 11.2 million with an average growth rate of 2.8 percent. By 2025 it is predicted to reach 22.8 million. As we all can identify, population growth is the primary reason of environmental problems, so also Cambodia is facing serious environmental problems. Air pollution, water pollution, solid waste disposal and loss of ecosystem through urbanization and deforestation are some of the serious threats of population expansion. Moreover, Cambodia is having a hard time dealing with these issues since it does not have many assets within its disposal to fight the menace.
With the congestion of the country on the rise, Cambodia’s natural resources are depleting…fish, meat, grains, vegetables…all the major natural resources are exhausting day by day. However, the worst sufferers of the environmental degradation are the poor people as their livelihood often depend on the natural resources available. Because of the pollution of air, water and soil, the living conditions of the poor are becoming shoddier and this may inflict serious damage to their health. Moreover, when the question of survival arises for the poor, they don’t have any other alternative but to deplete the resources available, and in the process the environment is gradually degrading. The whole situation is ultimately reducing the income and livelihoods of the poor.
The forests in Cambodia provides important livelihood opportunities and ecosystem services, including climate regulation and water sanitization and assist to regulate water flow in one of the world’s largest river basins, the Mekong. But, due to increase in population, forest areas are also reducing. Many forests areas are regularly cleared or burned to make way for crops including corn, beans and cassava. Furthermore, Cambodia’s natural resources are deteriorating and it is jeopardizing long term economic growth.
In addition to key environmental problems mentioned above, Cambodia is facing the natural hazards and disasters e.g., floods and droughts, and water pollution. The combined effect is a serious concern for the Cambodians. The environmental problems in Cambodia are reducing the value of productive resources which in turn creating health problems especially for the poor. In totality, it is hindering economic development and the fight against poverty.