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Recent floods underscore need for action

A regional meeting on disaster risk reduction and climate change wrapped up yesterday with officials pointing to the recent flooding as a reason to take immediate action to prepare for disasters.

“We must not sleep or wait for donors to take action,” Ross Sovann, deputy secretary-general of the National Committee for Disaster Management told the ninth meeting of the regional consultative committee of the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre. “We must draft a plan before a disaster happens,” he added.

The three-day meeting in Phnom Penh drew delegates from 26 countries and focused on how to link and implement disaster risk reduction with climate change at the local level. It followed the worst flooding in Cambodia in more than a decade, which saw about two million people directly affected, about 250,000 displaced and about 240 killed, according to Nhim Vanda, first vice-president of the NCDM.

Ross Sovann said countries across the region were experiencing the effects of climate change, with flooding and storms shifting from previous patterns, but added that it was still too early to say that this year’s devastating floods were a result of climate change.    

He called on all countries to share their national disaster preparedness plans and strategies so that they could assist each other. Preparing for a disaster could not be the work of one agency because disasters affect all sectors of society, from agriculture to education, he added.

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