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Ministry sets sights on flood victims

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Social affairs minister Vong Soth speaks at a workshop on the planning of flood responses on June 27. SOCIAL AFFAIRS MINISTRY

Ministry sets sights on flood victims

The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation has issued a preparedness and response plan to help people struck by, or vulnerable to flooding, including through social assistance before, during and after emergencies.

Those measures were discussed on June 27 at a ministerial consultative workshop on the topic of the new plan. The session aimed to collect additional input to fill in any gaps in the plan and to aid those who are vulnerable to floods.

The workshop intended to demonstrate the “caring, cooperative and supportive” approach taken in fine-tuning the strategic framework for disaster response to effectively deal with emergency issues at all stages of the disaster cycle, according to social affairs minister Vong Soth.

He said that the conference aimed to bring the attention of concerned parties in the capital and target provinces to the disaster management plan, in hopes of obtaining more input to refine its details.

The minister affirmed that preparation of the plan and its provisions related to social assistance were in line with the Law on Disaster Management, which he said requires ministries and institutions to establish mechanisms in their fields to reduce and prevent disaster risks, and ensure “timely and highly-efficient” emergency response that meets the basic needs of victims and the most vulnerable.

He underscored that the government’s primary policy is to maintain safety, political stability and national security, which he said are all necessary preconditions to achieving economic growth, poverty reduction, improved livelihoods and upholding the dignity of the people, with a key focus on social protection.

Chhour Sopanha, ministry director for social welfare, said the 2022 flood preparedness and response plan was the first prepared by his ministry with distinct provisions pertaining to social assistance.

As part of the preparation process, a linked working group last year conducted a survey on the challenges and solutions of people involved in disasters arising from floods, he said.

Although all relevant institutions have taken an active part in rescuing flood victims, overall efforts tend to be inconsistent due to unclear distribution of responsibility, Sopanha conceded.

“Even though interventionsare undertaken by all parties, there can be overlap and redundancies in responsibilities, and that’s why we’ve arranged this workshop – to gather input on what everyone involved should do during the upcoming floods in 2022.

“We can’t yet tell what the budget will look like, and up until recently we didn’t have the response plan, either. This year, as we recalibrate this plan, we can begin matching roles and responsibilities, and then we’d be able to determine a budget,” he said.

Sophana noted that the plan contains separate sets of strategies and policies for before, during and after a flood.

Before: the plan sketches out the work required to improve response capacity nationwide and prepare communities for floods, which includes examining past emergencies and retrospectively discussing optimal solutions to issues that occurred as a result.

During: the plan outlines different scenarios wherein the roles and responsibilities of each agency or institution are enumerated and defined.

After: the plan lays out post-disaster recovery efforts and assistance, with emphasis on ensuring that victims in the aftermath receive the support that they require.

“Therefore, in order to avoid all these problems, the government will use its social protection framework on behalf of the flood victims and look at all these areas to better provide all of the necessary assistance to the affected people,” Sophana said.


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