A National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) report has warned of the danger of extreme weather in Cambodia and a need to take action. The NCDM’s first vice-president, Kun Kim, attributed 95 deaths to 336 rainstorms which hit 22 provinces in 2019.
NCDM spokesman Keo Vy said at a meeting to review last year’s work, and set goals for action plans this year, that Cambodia had faced a series of weather risks that caused rainstorms, drought and water shortages.
“The provinces of Battambang, Pailin, Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Cham, Siem Reap, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng were specifically affected by a series of weather risks.
“The drought took its toll on the agricultural sector, affecting 342,641ha of rice crop, of which 67,663ha was damaged.
“Last year, the government issued a circular on storing water and in November another circular. We disseminated the circular for local people so that they become aware of problems and the significance of water usage.
“We also went down to meet with them where they cultivate dry season rice. We told them not to cultivate it because it could cause water shortages.
“This year, weather forecasts expect temperatures to be in the region of 40 to 41C in April. The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology said March might see early rains, which would help farmers to cultivate crops.
“Farmers can cultivate rice crops at the beginning of the rainy season when they have water. We hope that farming will improve this year compared to the turbulent period last year,” he said.
The Ministry of National Defence’s website on Sunday said Kim confirmed the deaths from natural disasters during this year’s action plan meeting.
However, the figures did not include causalities caused by fires, the building collapses in Preah Sihanouk province and Kep, and the dining room collapse in a pagoda in Siem Reap province.
The website said that following the meeting, the government set out the strategy for the sub-national level and the Strategic Development Plan 2019-2023, to reduce the risks of disaster with a particular focus on five-year planned activities.
These activities would be implemented consistently, with a focus on the main problems and challenges caused by natural disasters while also integrating past achievements.
Concerning the new disaster action plan, Vy said the NCDM had set up a search and rescue unit comprising of military and national police units.
He added that Kim sent a request to the government to buy some equipment from abroad to equip forces so that they are more capable of rescuing victims of landslides, building collapses and fires.