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World Bank says disaster plan ‘critical’ for agriculture

World Bank says disaster plan ‘critical’ for agriculture

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World Bank Country Manager Qimiao Fan speaks at the launch of a report titled ‘Natural Hazards, UnNatural Disasters: The Economics of Effective Prevention’ yesterday in Phnom Penh. Photo by: Sovan Philong

A WORLD Bank official said yesterday that the effective prevention of disasters such as floods and droughts, regular problems in Cambodia, was “very important” for the economic development of the Kingdom.

Qimiao Fan, World Bank country head for Cambodia, speaking at the release of a joint report on both natural and manmade disasters conducted by the World Bank and the United Nations, said Cambodia was “one of the most affected country’s in the Southeast Asia region” by such disasters.

“Effective [disaster] prevention is critical not only for [Cambodian] agriculture, but it is very important for poverty reduction, improving roads and sustainable development in this country,” he said.    

Aslam Perwaiz, head of disaster risk management systems for the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center in Bangkok, said that over the past 10 years Cambodia has been affected by a series of exceptional floods and by widespread but highly localised agricultural droughts.

He said he hoped the report would be taken to heart in the country.

“We gained experiences and learned many lessons from previous natural disasters in Cambodia,” he said.

“The report must be seen as a helping hand to design appropriately and implement disaster risk-reduction strategies.” Qimiao Fan called for partnerships between the public and private sectors to get Cambodia in a position of preparedness for such events.

“We should have public policy and a market mechanism” in place to accomplish these goals, he said.

“In my view, it is critically important that disaster prevention should be added in [many industries] in strategic planning and budgeting our development prospects,” he added.

Qimiao Fan also said reliable information about weather forecasts, as well as the regular disclosure of relevant information for the public, should be easily accessible.

Ross Sovann, deputy secretary general of the National Committee for Disaster Management in Cambodia, said that the government considers disaster prevention a national priority for the Kingdom’s macroeconomic development.

“We have to insure that disaster management, which includes disaster reduction and emergency management, is national priority,” he said.

However, he said that like many other countries, Cambodia still lacks the necessary human resources and building capacity at the moment. He called for more investment in order to increase that capacity. 

Cambodia was hit by Typhoon Ketsana in late December 2009, causing an estimated $132 million in damage and losses, Aslam Perwaiz said.

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