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“Before They Make Us Disappear.”

Phnom Penh Cham fishing community eviction. January 2020.
Text and Images by Michael Klinkhamer.

As the sun rises over the Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers, and its first hot rays hit Phnom Penh, huge baskets full of just caught, still-alive fish are being hurried over the Sisowath Quay directly into the nearest local market. Along Phnom Penh's "Riverside" at the crack of day, you can find the Chams fishing in the river and mooring their colorful boats and unloading the catch of the night into the local markets. 

The abundance of Mekong and Tonle Sap fish, shrimps, river crabs, and shellfish is at this point still very impressive and of huge value to the food supply in Phnom Penh. But dark clouds are lingering over this major food supply chain in the region for some time now.  The major implications are; unpredictable weather patterns, causing droughts, human population- overfishing, pollution, and the technical side effects by many hydro dams operating in the upper parts of the Mek…

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