Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Flood danger stressed

Flood danger stressed

Flood danger stressed

A GREATER portion of Cambodia’s population is vulnerable to flooding than that of any other country in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a report assessing the impact of disasters.

The Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2010, released yesterday at a conference in South Korea by the United Nations, cites databases indicating that 12.2 percent of Cambodia’s population is exposed to flooding, followed closely by Bangladesh with 12.1 percent. Vietnam was third with 3.9 percent.

In absolute terms, Cambodia was the fifth-most-affected country, with 1.7 million residents exposed to flooding. Bangladesh topped this list with 19.2 million, followed by India (15.8 million), China (3.9 million) and Vietnam (3.4 million).

The release of the report came as Cambodian officials said 17,648 families faced food shortages as a result of flooding that began on October 10.

Also yesterday, Association of Southeast Asian Nations Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan said the issues of disaster management and climate change would be “highest on the agenda of ASEAN” as leaders from the 10-member bloc prepared to meet in Hanoi this week.

“We are all suffering from the problems of climate irregularities,” Surin said in a briefing that was broadcast via videolink at the World Bank office in Phnom Penh. “It is now flooded in the dry season and drought in the rainy season, and people are not prepared.

A press release accompanying the UN report noted that it was the first regional assessment of disasters and their effects. “As a region highly prone to natural disasters with disproportionate impacts on human development, and facing new threats from climate change, the Asia-Pacific region has surprisingly lacked a comprehensive regional assessment of disasters,” the statement said.

The report said Cambodia recorded 30 natural disasters from 1980 to 2009, and that these had resulted in 1,969 deaths and affected 16 million people. Damage from these disasters cost US$518 million.

Francis Perez, country director in Cambodia for the international relief agency Oxfam, said yesterday that the report’s findings on the country’s vulnerability to flooding were sound. “A lot of Cambodians live near rivers or basins for their livelihood, and as such are vulnerable to flash floods,” he said. “[The figure] may even be more than that.”

Just 1.3 percent of Thailand’s population was at risk of flooding, and Perez said the difference came down to infrastructure. “There is not enough infrastructure to regulate water levels in Cambodia,” he said. “There are no flood gates, there are some dykes but they only protect Phnom Penh.”

Local officials said yesterday that recent flooding had resulted in at least six deaths by drowning.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JAMES O’TOOLE AND BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,