Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Better to be safe than sorry in preparing for natural disasters




Better to be safe than sorry in preparing for natural disasters

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Dr Fouad Bendimerad. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Better to be safe than sorry in preparing for natural disasters

The old adage, ‘hope for the best and prepare for the worst’, rings true for a country when it comes to disaster management and risk reduction. While Cambodia is not especially disposed to major natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis, risk management consultant Dr Fouad Bendimerad sheds some light to Post Property on how a country can best prepare for the worst.

What are some effective natural disaster preparations that a country like Cambodia should have in place?
Disaster preparedness starts with a good understanding of the vulnerabilities and risks associated with various hazards. The understanding of risks provides the foundations for rational and cost-effective policy and actions, and defines the priorities of the government for investments in disaster risk reduction. A consultation process with communities and other stakeholders (i.e., private sector, civil society, media, academia, and others) should provide the parameters for a national strategy for disaster risk management.

In monetary/financial terms, how significant can a natural disaster be to an economy?
A recent report by the World Bank demonstrates that disasters can have much greater economic and financial impacts in developing countries. Government takes on significant contingent liability which is not funded. Thus, funds for response, recovery and reconstruction must come from development funds and from budget allocated to social services. This process further delays development goals of the country.

While Cambodia isn’t specifically prone to earthquakes, is it still important to have contingency plans in place for the possibility of such a natural disaster?
Risk assessment will provide an understanding of the threat from earthquakes compared to other hazards. Contingency planning and emergency preparedness will improve the level of readiness of government agencies and communities to respond and recover from all types of shocks. This is the process of building resilience and reducing socio-economic vulnerability.

In what ways can fast-developing and growing urban cities like Phnom Penh prepare for the possibility of a major natural disaster?
Cities can develop Local Urban Resilience Plans that provide the strategies and actions for reducing risks along core sectors such as transport, water, sanitation, housing, land use, etc. Cities should also adopt the concept of mainstreaming risk reduction into their development plans.

Many parts of Phnom Penh are prone to extreme flooding in the wet season, while in the dry season droughts are rife. How can this situation be improved or better mitigated?
Comprehensive flood risk management and water resource management plans and strategies can improve the situation and reduce impact. These should be based on scientific studies that provide the parameters for establishing these plans. ​

MOST VIEWED

  • School reopening to be postponed until November

    Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting a delay of school reopening across the Kingdom until November, when the new academic year begins. In his letter, Chuon Naron said the postponement is warranted to avoid the new

  • Foreigners in Kingdom must now register in FPCS system

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) announced that it would not grant visa extensions to foreigners staying in Cambodia if their names are not listed on the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS) by July 1. Foreign nationals can register in the

  • Covid-19 at ‘alarming rate’, health ministry says

    The Covid-19 risk level for individual transmission is at an “alarming rate” in the Kingdom and its probability is “not low”, warned Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine. “Cambodia’s coronavirus scenario is classified as being at an early stage of the pandemic because of ongoing

  • Mandatory quarantine for 30,000 workers begins

    Some of the roughly 30,000 workers from factories and enterprises across the Kingdom who went on leave during Khmer New Year began their government-imposed 14-day quarantine on Monday. Speaking at a press conference while visiting workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Monday, Ministry

  • Unemployed to get $40 per month

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has instructed enterprises, business owners and travel agencies in five provinces to prepare the proper forms for the suspension of employment contracts. This, it said, will make it easier for the ministry to transfer $40 a month to workers

  • Gov’t travel ban flouted

    While the majority of Cambodians have paid heed to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to stay put and not travel during the Khmer New Year – the holidays of which were also postponed – several hundred have left Phnom Penh nonetheless. They have allegedly breached provincial

  • G20 energy ministers struggle to finalise oil output cuts

    Top oil producers struggled to finalise production cuts during a virtual summit held by Group of 20 (G20) energy ministers on Friday, despite US President Donald Trump’s mediation efforts to end a standoff with Mexico. The final G20 communique appeared to gloss over simmering divisions

  • Kingdom revises travel restriction order

    The government on Friday eased the district and provincial border restrictions issued on Thursday. People are now allowed to cross districts within their provinces. Phnom Penh and Kandal province are to be treated as a single region where people are allowed to travel freely. In

  • Private schools struggling

    The Cambodian Higher Education Association has claimed that 113 private educational establishments are facing bankruptcy because of their inability to pay rent and staff salaries in light of nationwide school closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. It said the financial trouble started when the Ministry of

  • Khmer New Year holidays postponed

    In an effort to halt Covid-19 infections in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has postponed the Khmer New Year holidays scheduled from April 13 to 16. While the people will not have their usual break, nor will there be any public celebrations or gatherings at pagodas,