The National Committee for Disaster Management is meeting with officials from throughout the country in Phnom Penh this week in the wake of a slew of destructive storms that have wreaked havoc in the first four months of 2013.
Officials will gather for the second and final time today to discuss three major projects: the development of national and provincial risk maps, emergency management information and early warning systems, and the establishment of new construction guidelines and building codes.
Ngim Vanda, first vice-president of the NCDM, said that destructive storms and lightning strikes were far more severe in the first four months of 2013 compared with last year, with the meeting called in response.
In the year to April, storms destroyed more than a thousand homes and damaged another 4,000 nationwide, killing 14 and injuring 51, while lightning strikes killed 35 and injured 24 over the same period, he said.
“A disaster risk map is very important for issuing alerts throughout the country in disaster-prone areas, so we can see exactly where the disaster will occur and make preparations to avoid the destruction of homes and human casualties,” he added.
The development of an open-source software platform for the disaster risk maps will take 17 months and cost up to $3 million dollars, he said.
Dr Bhichit Rattakul, special adviser to the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre, said that Cambodia is ranked as one of the most disaster-affected countries in Southeast Asia, with floods and storms posing key risks.
A statement from NCDM said assessments of disaster response in Cambodia, including after 2009’s Typhoon Ketsana, have recognised that “priority [is] placed on disaster response and crisis management rather than disaster risk reduction”.
Four more people were killed from a lightning strike in Kampong Chhnang province’s Rolea Ba’ier district on Wednesday as they were fishing during heavy rains in the middle of a river.
Additional reporting by Kevin Ponniah