Nhim Vanda (far R), vice-president of the National Committee for Disaster Management, shakes hands with a member of a commune-level emergency response team in Kandal province yesterday during the handover of 20 speedboats. Photograph supplied
When floodwaters next deluge the streets of Banteay Meanchey province’s O’Chrou district, speedboats may well be first on the scene.
The first of 20 rescue speedboats, donated by Caritas Cambodia, arrived yesterday, ready for action with a supply of life jackets and ropes.
The boats are sorely needed in flooded Banteay Meanchey, which last week saw 5,000 people evacuated and 40,000 hectares of crops flooded by water flowing from Thailand.
The speedboat trial, launched with the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), will continue over the next six years, with 180 communes in flood-prone areas to be given their own craft.
“We’re learning from the last year,” Caritas Cambodia director Kim Rattana said. “Some communes don’t have enough equipment. They can use it for the flood purpose and afterwards.”
Last year 250 people died across 18 provinces in the September floods, with 232,377 hectares of rice ruined.
The damage is estimated to have cost 10 per cent of the total yield.
Y Long, Mongkul Borei district governor, said that five of the 13 communes in his district were flooded since last Thursday.
“Two among the five communes are seriously affected, while 81 families were evacuated to the pagoda, a hill and their relatives’ houses,” he said.
Soon the speedboats will also be sent to communes in Kampong Thom, Kampong Cham, Kampong Chhnang, Prey Veng and Siem Reap – where the provincial prison, which endures yearly flooding, will put a boat to use.