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Food helps avoid risk of debt

Floods do more than just destroy people’s homes. Lack of food and increased health risks can also have a lasting financial impact. CARE’s response to the 2013 floods aimed to help alleviate some of these concerns.

Chon Vorn and her family live in Veal Prov, a small rural village in Prey Veng province in Cambodia which was severely affected by flooding. Vorn has always had to take care of her family; she has two children and also cares for her elderly mother, who is often sick. She and her husband are responsible for earning money to support the whole family, paying for part her mother’s medical treatment as well as food.

Flooding has always been a big worry. “My village suffers flooding every year; when the rainy season comes I am afraid, and worried about my small home garden, my rice field and animals.” From previous flooding experience, she said: “I only just earned enough to buy food each day. I am worried about not having clean drinking water for my mother and children, because the well was destroyed by flood, and now we have only dirty water. Health is very important for my family.”

Previously, when she did not have enough money to pay for her mother’s medical treatment and buy food, she borrowed money from a Micro Finance Institution (MFI). However, the interest rate made repaying this loan difficult. The debt forced her and her husband to migrate away from their home, her mother and their young children, to find work on rubber farms, cassava farms and in construction.

When the floods struck in 2013, Vorn’s family didn’t have enough food to eat and were unable to find any clean water. The risk of illness as a result of contaminated water was a big concern that would have cost her family further. Without support, Vorn and her husband may have had to go even into debt even more in order to survive.

CARE’s distribution of rice helped them to meet their immediate food needs as they recovered from the disaster. At the same time, the provision of water purifiers and information on how to maintain good hygiene helped ensure that those affected did not succumb to preventable illnesses, which could have hampered their recovery further. Vorn said, “This rice will help me to continue my life. In particular, I have received the PUR sachet to make the water safe, a new bucket drink water from, and good hygiene knowledge on how to wash my hands. I will continue this knowledge to explain this to my family.”

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