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UN: Cambodia flood-ready

UN: Cambodia flood-ready

Government officials and civil-society groups were gearing up for floods ahead of the impending rainy season and appeared better prepared this time around, a UN official and NGO representatives said yesterday.

Visiting UN assistant secretary-general for disaster risk reduction Margareta Wahlström commended the Cambodian government and CSOs on their efforts to prepare for rainy-season floods.

“I’m convinced the country will be better prepared this year because so much attention has been given to these questions [of preparedness],” Wahlström  said on the fifth day of a six-day trip to Cambodia to meet government officials and development partners.

“The ministries and organisations, including local governments, are preparing and thinking about how they can have a higher level of alert for possible floods later this year,” Wahlström added.

This included a willingness to consider how provincial authorities could collaborate with CSOs, she said.

Extensive flooding last year affected more than a million people and left many stranded without aid for weeks due to a lack of governmental and NGO co-ordination.   

Wahlström said there had been delays in “conveying that this [was] quite a serious situation”, but said there was now a “different attitude” expressed by national and international representatives.

Deputy secretary-general of the Cambodian Red Cross Men Neary Sopheak likewise said a flurry of consultations and co-ordination had been taking place in the past month, with the National Committee for Disaster Management working with provincial authorities and organisations on assessments and discussions of flood-related measures.

“We have lessons learned and best practices . . .  our common goal is how to best help the people, and we have been working constantly,” she said.

Last week, the final draft of the Disaster Management Law was discussed by the NCDM, according to the state press agency.

The draft states that “commune/sangkat disaster management councils” are to be established and counts “ensur[ing] social safety” and timely responses to people’s needs among its aims.

To contact the reporter of this story: Cassandra Yeap at [email protected]

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