Natural disasters such as storms with strong winds and lightning have caused 79 deaths and injuries in the first six months of this year, representing a significant decrease over the same period in 2021, which had 164 deaths and injuries.

These statistics were part of the report summarising the results of disaster management for the first semester of this year and the working direction for the second semester by the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), which The Post received on July 21.

The report noted that the weather conditions for the first six months of this year were better than in 2021, as Cambodia experienced lower temperatures than in 2021 and heavier rainfall during the dry season, which alleviated the drought conditions experienced that year.

"Natural disasters caused by climate change, such as droughts, floods, hurricanes and lightning remain challenges and have seriously affected people’s livelihood across the country, especially people in remote rural areas, lowlands and near waterways," NCDM's first vice-president Kun Kim said in the report.

He said that during the last dry season, some areas in the provinces of Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Prey Veng, Tbong Khmum, Kandal, Pursat, Takeo and Svay Rieng faced shortages of water due to lower rainfall that affected 15,073ha of rice fields.

He added that those problems were largely solved via the cooperation of the relevant ministries and local authorities, who opened the water gates and pumped irrigation water to the fields in time to save some of the harvest.

He added that in the rainy season, heavy rains continued since the end of May until the beginning of June, causing flooding in the lowlands and some towns in a short period of time, with 13,751ha of rice fields damaged in Banteay Meanchey, Tbong Khmum and Siem Reap provinces. Of those, there were 9,813ha that were a complete loss.

He mentioned that flooding in the early part of the rainy season had damaged some infrastructure in rural areas including two village roads, one wooden bridge and two dams in Kampong Chhnang and Siem Reap provinces.

In Ratanakkiri province’s Kon Mom district, seven workers’ plats equal to 150 rooms at a banana plantation were flooded, forcing 176 families to evacuate.

In the rainy season thus far, there were two storms of significance that occurred at the end of June. The first storm saw Cambodia getting hit with strong winds on the beaches and strong winds and thunderstorms from the coast to the northwestern lowlands, the northern highlands and the northeastern highlands.

Phnom Penh and every province but Mondulkiri and Takeo experienced strong winds caused by the storms. The storms caused three deaths and 18 injuries along with 685 houses seriously damaged and 2,374 with medium damage. Nineteen school buildings lost their roofs, 13 vendor stalls collapsed and six administrative buildings also lost their roofs.

Over the first six months of 2022, lightning strikes killed 32 people and injured 26 others while also killing 69 cattle and damaging 11 homes.

NCDM spokesman Soth Kim Kolmony told The Post on July 21 that their next priority is to reduce the risk from floods and the NCDM is cooperating with the Ministry of National Defence's Disaster Management Secretariat to enhance its rescue and response skills through training and the provision of rescue equipment and rescue training for all natural disaster rescue crews.

"Currently, the NCDM has cooperated with relevant ministries and institutions at the sub-national level to monitor and prepare for disaster relief for any events that may occur during the rainy season that require a response. We are cooperating in the rehabilitation of the affected areas, both livelihoods and rural infrastructure and crops," he said.