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Flood money runneth over


Motorists navigate through floodwaters in Phnom Penh at the end of last month. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

Flooding  this year cost the government significantly less than expected due to better preparation and lower water levels than in previous years, first vice president of the National Committee for Disaster Management Nhim Vanda announced yesterday.

The NCDM could not yet report the precise amount spent on flood management and relief, but the unspent portion of the $30 million budgeted for this purpose will be used to develop other sectors chosen by Prime Minister Hun Sen, Vanda said yesterday at a conference on natural disaster management attended by about 150 Cambodian, EU and UN officials.

“Flooding this year was small,” Vanda said. “But we set aside $30 million for the flood budget because the government and donors spent $30 million on floods last year.”

This much higher than anticipated cost of dealing with last year’s floods – the worst in a decade – combined with early predictions of high flooding from this year, had prompted the government to budget what turned out to be more than necessary, Vanda said.

“Last year, 250 people died because of the flooding,” he said. “The prime minister wanted to know why so many people died. This year, we tried to be prepared so we could reduce this number.”

Despite the prime minister’s prediction in August that this year would see massive flooding as a “Year of the Dragon”, Vanda said that the NCDM’s flooding report shows that only five people died due to flooding this year, excluding some drownings due to drunkenness.

While last year 18 of Cambodia’s 24 provinces were significantly affected by flooding, Vanda said this year only 100 hectares of rice crops in Preah Vihear, Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Thom and Pursat were damaged.

“Of course, climate change plays a role in the irregularities in our weather,” he noted.

He was echoed by UN resident coordinator Douglas Broderick, who stressed the need to consider the effects of climate change on natural disaster management in the future.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sen David at



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