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Warning systems need to weather the storm

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Environment Minister Mok Mareth speaks yesterday. Photo by: Pha Lina

BETTER early warning systems are needed to prepare small communities for extreme weather events as the effects of climate change begin to impact on the Kingdom, according to a report released yesterday.

The report, commissioned by the Ministry of Environment, surveyed 2,401 Cambodians nationwide last year about their knowledge of and attitudes toward climate change.

The survey revealed that 93 percent of people had experienced at least one severe weather event in the preceding year and of those people, 36 percent did not receive any information about the event.
Of those who were informed about severe weather events, only 25 percent received the information before the event occurred.

Environment Minister Mok Mareth said at a press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday that villagers in remote areas had difficulties receiving information about extreme weather.

“Some of the people in remote areas are very poor and cannot afford radios and newspapers,” he said.

Mao Hak, director of the department of hydrology and river works at the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, said yesterday that his department informed people “several days” in advance of severe weather.

“We recognise that in some remote areas the people might receive the information too late,” he said.

The report recommended that a national alert system be established, using television, radio and mobile phones to  communicate weather warnings.

“Low levels of economic and human development and high dependency on rain-fed agriculture make Cambodia extremely vulnerable to climate change,” Brian Lund, East Asia regional director for Oxfam, said.

Charles Hamilton, country director of BBC World Service Trust which conducted the survey, said that language used to describe climate change must be simple.

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