Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Officials seek flood answers

Officials seek flood answers

Officials seek flood answers

As rural Cambodians continue to experience the effects of the worst flooding in more than a decade, officials from 26 countries in the region began a three-day meeting at the Intercontinental Hotel yesterday to discuss how to link and implement disaster risk reduction with climate change adaptation at the local level.

Nhim Vanda, first vice-president of the National Committee for Disaster Management, said it was important to identify the cause of the disaster.

“Was it the result of climate change?” he asked in his keynote address to the 9th Meeting of the Regional Consultative Committee on Disaster Management.

Flooding had yet to recede enough around the Tonle Sap Lake for farmers in some districts to plant their dry-season rice crop, he said.  

About 2 million Cambodians were directly affected by the flooding this year, he said.

Krasae Chanawongse, chairman of Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre, expressed condolences to the victims of this year’s flooding and said it was necessary “to discuss what we must do to prepare for disasters and the effects of climate change next year”.

The ADPC has described the Asia Pacific region as “the most hazard-prone region in the world” and said that as a result it “cannot afford to ignore nor delay addressing the challenges that confront it”.

An internal report from an international NGO working in Siem Reap province, however, noted that the provincial committee for disaster management there did not have a contingency plan or the capacity for dealing with an emergency on the scale of this year’s flooding.

The report, which was obtained by the Post, says that district and commune level committees lacked the capacity to respond to emergencies.

A recent update on this year’s flooding by the UN’s disaster management team in Cambodia said the Asian Development Bank would lead the coordination of a flood rehabilitation project for the Kingdom after the government completed its damage assessment later this year.

The cost of the project, which will likely focus on road and irrigation infrastructure and begin before April, was expected to be between US$100 million and $150 million, the update said.  

It also warned that flooding was “expected to recur more frequently” and said the ADB had offered to support the enhancement of “flood data systems and flood early warning and response systems, including data management”.