A senior disaster-management official has asked the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and Japanese government to build safe evacuation centres (SEC) near the Tonle Sap Lake and along the Mekong River, areas highly vulnerable to flooding during the yearly rainy season, the Ministry of National Defence reported on May 28.
The centres are meant to provide appropriate temporary emergency shelter to communities at potential risk of floods and other natural disasters.
National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) first vice-president Kun Kim said: “The provinces surrounding Tonle Sap Lake and along the Mekong River are vulnerable to floods. The SECs will help people escape the floods.
“People are normally evacuated to safety during floods, but the dilemma is that when they’d arrive, there’d be no shelter, toilets or clean water,” he said.
WFP county director Claire Conan said building the centres would be vital for flood response preparations.
The Japanese government has been a “significant partner” to WFP's work in the Kingdom since 1998, providing $22 million in the last 10 years to improve food security and nutrition through cash contributions and in-kind support, such as rice and canned fish, as well as to support the development of emergency preparedness and response, according to a May 21 joint press release.
Six SECs were recently handed over to local communities in Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Thom and Pursat provinces, in a ceremony conducted by the Japanese embassy in Phnom Penh, the WFP and NCDM, the release said.
Able to accommodate 2,000-3,000 people, the SECs were built in accordance with recognised international standards, each with a large hall, a kitchen, a laundry room, a storage room, bathrooms, a handwashing station, a livestock shelter and a large open field.
Each site was equipped with water supply components such as tube wells, water storage and containers, a solar electric system with a generator, as well as a lightning protection system, according to the release.
The centres were funded by the Japanese government and WFP to the tune of $1 million.