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Disasters present big risks for small GDPs

Disasters present big risks for small GDPs

Cambodia's small economy leaves it especially vulnerable to devastation in the face of large-scale natural disasters, United Nations agencies and Cambodian officials warned last week.

“The relative size of an economy adds to the vulnerability as seen particularly in the case of the Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic and Cambodia,” noted a report released at the Fifth Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction.

More than 0.5 per cent of annual public expenditure is spent on disaster response in Cambodia, while annual losses are estimated at 0.7 per cent of the gross domestic product, the Asia Pacific Disaster
Report estimates.

Speaking to thousands of attendees, Susilo Bambang Yodhoyono, president of Indonesia, highlighted the difficulties his country had faced in addressing natural disasters and urged greater regional co-operation.

“We believe that disaster risk reduction is indeed everybody’s business. As such, we encourage all stakeholders relevant to disaster management, in particular disaster risk reduction, to take significant part aligned with their roles and responsibilities,” he said.  

Nhim Vannda, vice president of the National Committee for Disaster Management, stressed that natural disasters can pose a huge challenge for a developing country.

“Fighting against the disasters is not only the responsibility of the government or a nation, but demands all relevant communities join together,” he said.

Cambodia has faced a tough few years coping with natural disasters. Last month, 19 people were killed and thousands of hectares of paddy rice destroyed by a tropical storm, while floods the previous year killed 250 and destroyed more than a 10th of the country’s crops.  

Vanda said the government was focusing much of its efforts on education programs as a means of mitigating the effects of catastrophic events.

To contact the reporter on this story: Khouth Sophak Chakrya at [email protected]

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