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The village of Kompong Khleang, Cambodia, showing homes perched 10 metres above the ground in the dry season.

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In many parts of the world, particularly the Asia-Pacific region, people


face an uncertain future because of rising sea levels. Islands such as
Kiribati are sinking into the ocean and Bangladesh suffers from
devastating floods. Yet some regions are able to adapt and take
advantage of seasonal floods. One such village is Kompong Khleang in
Cambodia.
Kompong Khleang is located in the flood plain of the Tonl Sap, the
biggest lake in South-East Asia. The water level of the lake fluctuates
greatly throughout the year so the villagers live either in houses built on
stilts or on floating platforms. During the wet season, from October to
January, the Mekong River floods into the Tonl Sap and the
surrounding area. By February and March the water begins to recede so
that by April the outer areas of the lake are dry. Now the villages are no
longer 'floating', but perch on stilts 10 metres above the ground.
Because of the regularity of the flooding and the gradual rise of the flood
plain, the villagers of Kompong Khleang have been able to build a
permanent community within the flood plain of the lake. Its population is
estimated between 10,000 and 20,000 people live in harmony with the
changing ecosystem that the lake provides, mostly fishing in the lake
and farming in the rich flood plains around it.

In Kompong Khleang you can see a range of activities. The centre of


the village, which is actually an island, is busy with its markets, shops,
pagoda and schools, whereas a short distance away, century-old
traditions continue as residents of every age prepare the smoked and
dried fish that is sold in stores across Cambodia and South-East Asia.