Flood repair bill under estimate

April 10th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

The National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) released a report yesterday showing that only $356 million was spent on the restoration of infrastructure destroyed by last year’s floods – far below the $500 million in damage estimated beforehand.

Nhim Vanda, vice chairman of the NCDM, said that after the floods receded, the committee anticipated $500 million in damage, but that reports showed a much lower repairs bill across the country once local authorities had completed the restorations. …

Sen David

Gov’t seeks cash for flood rebuilding efforts

April 9th, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

The National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) said Tuesday that it needs an additional $217 million from donors and NGOs to help recovery efforts from the floods of September and October 2013. …

A document accompanying the Post-Flood Early Recovery Needs Assessment Report, prepared by the government with the assistance of the United Nations Development Program, shows that the government has received only $88.01 million of the $306 million it needs for recovery efforts. …

More than 31,000 homes were evacuated, 168 people died and the country incurred a total of $356 million in damages and losses in the floods of September and October, according to NCDM figures. …

Matt Blomberg and Ben Sokhean

Weekend storms take heavy toll

April 7th, 2014 , The Phnom Penh Post

A weekend storm surge that saw torrential downpours hit the capital had far more dire consequences outside of Phnom Penh, where hundreds of families were affected and at least one man was killed.

At least 675 homes in eight provinces were damaged in sudden thunderstorms that swept the country, officials said yesterday, with eight people injured during the downpours and heavy winds that first began on Thursday evening. …

Khoun Leakhana

Two Killed, 73 Houses Destroyed by Lightning in Northwest

April 3rd, 2014 , The Cambodia Daily

Officials said two people were killed on Tuesday by separate lightning strikes in Pailin and Kompong Cham provinces as the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology issued a warning about seasonal storms spreading across the country.

Searing temperatures and the approach of wet season ignited the first big lightning storms of the season, causing injuries and damage to property across five northwestern provinces on Tuesday. By the weekend, these conditions are expected to spread across virtually all the country, including Phnom Penh. …

Some 25 houses were destroyed Tuesday night and another 125 damaged during a storm that raged across six of Banteay Meanchey province’s nine districts. At the same time, three people were injured and 48 houses were destroyed in Kompong Cham province. Oddar Meanchey and Battambang provinces also recorded minor property damage. Mr. Vy warned that bad weather will likely cause more damage as the week wears on.

Cambodia has one of the highest rates in the world of lightning deaths. According to the disaster management committee, the rate is 7.8 deaths per million people. Last year, lightning killed 103 people with the majority of deaths in rural areas where farmers often work in the open without shelter. Many Cambodians are also seriously injured by lightning each year, however there is no authoritative government data available on lightning-related injuries. …

Ben Sokhean

Phnom Penh Airport Hosts Full-Scale Emergency Rescue Exercise

December 21st, 2013 , The Cambodia Daily

Smoke billowed over Phnom Penh International Airport and people lay on the grass verges near an aircraft simulator on Friday as hundreds of rescue service personnel and firefighters took part in the airport’s fourth-ever full-scale emergency exercise.

Hundreds of soldiers and police, as well as actors playing the role of injured passengers, also took part in the emergency exercise, which centered around the airport’s life-size aircraft simulator, where fire crews battled to put out an engine fire.

“We held this exercise because we want to be prepared,” said Nhim Vanda, vice president of the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM). …

Khy Sovuthy

Flooding Caused Evacuation of 31,000 Houses

December 11th, 2013 , The Cambodia Daily

More than 31,000 households were evacuated and 168 people died across 20 provinces during this year’s rainy-season flooding, according to the Humanitarian Response Forum (HRF), which released its final report on the flooding Monday.

In general, flooding did not affect Cambodia as badly as in 2011, when more than 50,000 families were evacuated, according to the HRF, a network of U.N. agencies and relief NGOs.

“Compared to the events in 2011, floods in 2013 appear to have been less extensive in scale, although in some provinces the impact…was more significant due to a combination of factors such as: unexpected gravity of the floods…longer time for waters to recede, repeated floods and flash floods, limited preparedness undertaken in advance, limited early warning,” the report says.

In Battambang, Stung Treng, Siem Reap, Ratanakkiri, Banteay Meanchey and Pailin provinces, more families had to be evacuated than two years ago, and nationwide, the number of affected families was worse, with about 370,000 compared to 350,000 in 2011, and in Battambang province, 60,000 more families were affected this year. …

Denise Hruby and Ben Sokhean

China donates 1 mln U.S. dollars to Cambodia for flood victims

October 31st, 2013 , Xinhuanet News

China on Thursday donated one million U.S. dollars to Cambodia for the relief of the flood- affected people.

Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Bu Jianguo handed over the cash donation to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Peace Palace in the Cambodian capital.

Bu, on behalf of the government and people of China, extended deep sympathy to Cambodia over the loss of lives due to flooding and expressed her confidence that under the leadership of Prime Minister Hun Sen, Cambodian flood-affected people would get out of difficulties and rebuild their homes soon. …

Some 113,260 hectares of rice paddies, or 4.4 percent of the total rice field, were completely destroyed. Moreover, about 440 km of national roads and 3,693 km of gravel roads were damaged.

He [National Committee for Disaster Management first vice-president Nhim Vanda] said the damage to property was estimated to top one billion U.S. dollars. …

Xinhuanet News Staff

NCDM Lauds Flood Response, NGO Calls for Better Coordination

October 31st, 2013 , The Cambodia Daily

National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) Vice President Nhim Vanda on Wednesday lauded the flood response work of the Cambodian Red Cross and government, at a workshop to discuss the country’s National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction where several participants focused on the lack of disaster response coordination.

Announcing a donation of $250 to the family of each of the 168 people killed in floods since mid-September, Mr. Vanda said a total of $42,000 would be donated as compensation.

“Monitoring and reporting has become the number one priority for disaster risk reduction in Cambodia, but it is difficult when there is a lack of organization and leadership,” said Damien Riquet, a Bangkok-based disaster risk reduction expert working in Cambodia with international development organization PLAN.

“The relevant ministries and authorities are getting involved more and more with disaster risk reduction, they are making great progress, but without coordination between them, they don’t get the most efficient result.” …

Matt Blomberg and Ben Sokhean

Cambodian flood destroys 4.4 pct of rice paddies this year: official

October 29th, 2013 , Xinhuanet News

Recent Mekong River flash floods have entirely damaged 113,260 hectares of rice paddies, or 4.4 percent of the total rice-planted area of 2.56 million hectares, according to an agricultural report Tuesday. “The floods had affected 369,346 hectares of rice paddies. Of the figures, 113,260 hectares were completely destroyed,”Minister of Agriculture Ouk Rabun said in a report submitted to Prime Minister Hun Sen.”Despite suffering from flooding, rice production this year is still expected to achieve good results.” …

Floods had hit the country since mid-September, killing at least 168 people and affecting more than 1.8 million others, Nhim Vanda, 1st vice-president of the National Committee for Disaster Management, said last week. …

Xinhuanet News Staff

Flooding could affect growth

October 25th, 2013 , The Phnom Penh Post

When the extent of flood damage becomes clear, the Asian Development Bank may lower its economic growth forecast for Cambodia to reflect the severity of the aftermath, a senior official with agency’s local office said yesterday.

“It is possible that we will have to revise downward once we get more information,” ADB country director for Cambodia Eric Sidgwick said, cautioning that thought it was still too early to understand the scope of the problem, “we are closely monitoring this”.

On October 2, the ADB kept the rate steady at 7.2 per cent. It also said that in 2014, growth is expected to pick up to 7.5 per cent as recovery catches on in European and US markets. …

Sidgwick allayed concerns over long-lasting damage to the economic this years by comparing the situation to 2011, when flooding and resulting financial costs did not ultimately make a huge dent in growth. He pointed out that rebuilding process may have actually triggered a boost in infrastructure. …

Joe Freeman and Sen David, P.7

Cambodian flood damage estimates top $1 bil.

October 24th, 2013 , Kyodo News

The vice president of Cambodia’s National Committee for Disaster Management said Thursday damage from monsoon-season flooding is now estimated to have topped $1 billion.

Nhim Vanda, who received $320,000 in flood-relief assistance from Japan on Wednesday, said the estimate for this year’s floods affecting more than 1.8 million Cambodians and damaging 344,300 hectares of rice paddies and 440 kilometers of national roads has already topped the $550 million in destruction in 2011, one of the worst flood seasons in recent memory. …


Myriad flood challenges remain

October 24th, 2013 , The Phnom Penh Post

As the flood levels recede in most of the 20 affected provinces, victims continue facing scores of recovery challenges including sanitation, food security, health and shelter concerns, as well as a lack of potable water.

In its fourth report on the flood situation, released yesterday, the Humanitarian Response Forum – a network including the United Nations and NGOs – found the flooding caused 168 deaths and affected over 1.7 million people, shuttering 1,390 schools and 78 hospitals and health centres.

Some US$1 billion of property and infrastructure damage was sustained, according to the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM). …

Mom Kunthear, Amelia Woodside and Laignee Barron

Thailand, Japan Donate to Flood Relief Efforts

October 23rd, 2013 , The Cambodia Daily

The governments of Japan and Thailand as well as the Thai community in Cambodia have decided to donate goods and cash totaling about $520,000 to flood relief in Cambodia, officials said Tuesday.

The Japanese government will donate about $400,000 in an official ceremony this morning at the Phnom Penh International Airport, said Nhim Vanda, first vice president of the National Committee for Disaster Management.

“We will use the aid for the flood victims living in seriously flooded areas,” he said.

The Japanese Embassy said that goods including generators and water purifiers, which are valued at about $320,000, will be donated to the Cambodian government to help with the ongoing flood relief efforts. …

The government of Thailand intended to donate barges, but was instead asked to send $200,000 cash to the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC), Bang­kok-based newspaper The Nation reported.

The Thai Business Council of Cambodia (TBCC), the Thai Embassy and members of the Thai com­­munity in Cambodia also do­nated goods worth $20,000 to the Cambodian Red Cross, TBCC vice president Kanya Gollogly said Tuesday. …

Denise Hruby and Aun Pheap

Government Blames Child Flood Deaths on ‘Careless’ Mothers

October 22nd, 2013 , The Cambodia Daily

The first vice president of the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) on Monday blamed some of the deaths in this year’s floods on “careless” mothers.

“Maybe the mothers are careless, maybe they don’t pay much attention to their children, so they drown,” NCDM First Vice President Nhim Vanda told a workshop on improving the body’s often-lambasted ability to deal with floods and other natural disasters.

According to the government’s latest data, recent floodwaters, which are only just beginning to recede in some provinces, have affected 1.8 million Cambodians and killed 168 people.

Mr. Vanda offered no other possible causes of death for this year’s flood victims. But he did say a new tool dubbed a “risk atlas” would help the committee mitigate the fallout from future disasters.

The atlas, which is being created by the Bangkok-based Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) for the NCDM, will be a series of online maps showing in greater detail than ever what natural disaster risks different parts of the country face.

The tool is one piece of a $40 million World Bank-funded project to help the NCDM prepare for disasters and should be ready by July, though most of the mon­ey is going to repairing roads and bridges and other infrastructure damaged by 2009’s Typhoon Ketsana. Damage from the storm was estimated at $132 million.

Mr. Vanda claimed that this year’s floods had already inflicted $500 million in damages in Battam­bang and Banteay Meanchey provinces alone, though he did not give details of what the money would be used for. …

Kenneth Westgate, the ADPC’s team leader in Cambodia, said his group was also helping the NCDM write a handbook on building codes so that buildings can better withstand disasters, and to improve the committee’s early warning system and set up a comprehensive disaster management information center.

Having recently toured some of the northwest’s flood-affected areas, Mr. Westgate said the NCDM had to make its early warning system more site specific and make sure that the right information gets to the people.

“You may get information put out by the Ministry of Water Re­sources and Meteorology, but it…probably isn’t going to be very location specific, therefore not necessarily as useful to people on the grounds as it might be,” he said. …

A report the Asian Development Bank obtained earlier this month said the NCDM had no annual operating budget to begin with and that most staff were not even aware of their job descriptions.

Soon after Ketsana, the NCDM also admitted that hundreds of thousands of dollars in emergency relief funds handed out to the provinces each year could not be tracked. Despite setting itself the goal of having a data system in place to follow that money by 2013, no moves have yet been made to implement it. …

Zsombor Peter and Khuon Narim

Cambodia flood death toll climbs to 168

October 22nd, 2013 , Xinhuanet News

The Mekong River and flash floods have claimed at least 168 lives in Cambodia and cost the country about 500 million U.S. dollars due to the damages to rice paddy and roads, Keo Vy, spokesman for the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), said Tuesday. …

“Besides the deaths, more than 1.7 million people have been affected,” he told Xinhua. …

Xinhuanet News Staff

Dam easing dooms homes

October 21st, 2013 , The Phnom Penh Post

It was late at night when a torrent of water burst through the Kamping Pouy reservoir on October 8 and surged into more than 50 houses effectively sacrificed to stop a potentially catastrophic breach in the dam in Battambang province.

With cracks appearing in a dam wall buckling under the pressure of unrelenting flood waters, provincial authorities, already forced to open two of the reservoir’s flood gates, decided to cut a release channel in Banan district’s Ta Kream commune.

But their decision to cut the channel in the 19-kilometre-long dam wall abutting a village has incensed its residents, who say they were given inadequate warning and no chance of saving their property. …

The Khmer Rouge-era irrigation project covers about 45 square kilometres and has a water storage capacity of about 110 million cubic metres, according to provincial authorities.

Long Phalkun, provincial director of the water resources and meteorology department, confirmed that relevant authorities were deployed to deal with the rising waters but declined to elaborate on why a less-populated area was not selected. …

All 14 districts in the province have been affected, with evacuations occurring in more than half.

Extensive rainfall, poorly managed dams and flash floods have contributed to 60,000 Cambodians leaving their homes in pursuit of dry ground, while more than 150 people have drowned. At least 10 of those deaths were in Battambang. …

Amelia Woodside and Khouth Sophak Chakrya

Focus now on flood’s aftermath

October 21st, 2013 , The Phnom Penh Post

With the floodwaters receding following weeks of heavy rains, the National Committee for Disaster Management met with officials from 20 provinces on Friday to determine the scale of the devastation and begin planning the cleanup. …

The NCDM on Wednesday launched a disaster management database in an attempt to coordinate efforts between the authorities and aid organisations. The Disaster Loss Database (CamDi) is a repository of information on a range of disasters, which officials hope can both help with recovery and also enable better planning.

Sen David

Floods kill 152 people, affect 418,770 families in Cambodia: officials

October 18th, 2013 , Xinhuanet News

The Mekong River and flash floods have killed at least 152 people and affected 418,770 families in 20 provinces in Cambodia, disaster control officials said Friday.

Pon Narith, Secretary General of the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), said floods have hit the country twice this year between August and October. The first flood killed 13 people and the second one claimed 139 lives. …

Xinhuanet News Staff

A raft of complications

October 17th, 2013 , The Phnom Penh Post

Riun Pau ran out of food last week.

For the 13-year-old and her family, that moment was the culmination of weeks of distress caused by flooding that had already ravaged their Battambang home and farmland. …

Pau’s neighbours are experiencing similar problems. In Battambang, 67.3 per cent of the provincial population has been affected by flood waters in recent weeks, hundreds of hectares of rice fields have been destroyed, and food is in increasingly short supply.

The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization’s Cambodia offices have expressed continual concern over the spread of disease exacerbated by fetid flood waters.

But for many sharing a similar lifestyle as Sun, healthcare is nonexistent, partly due to the number of health centres that have also been affected by flooding.

As of Tuesday, 69 health centres and hospitals across the country have been hit by rising waters, according to a report released by the Humanitarian Response Forum (HRF), a coalition of the United Nations, NGOs and other international organisations.

According to National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) figures released on Tuesday, Battambang remains at high risk of further flood damage.

All 14 districts in the province have been affected, with evacuations occurring in more than half.

Flooding also increases exposure to anti-personnel mines as rain washes away soil. Since flooding began, a piece of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and two anti-tank mines have already been reported as being found in Battambang. …

HRF participants have agreed to request what they term an “initial emergency cash grant” of $50,000 to support ongoing relief efforts.

Extensive rainfall, badly managed dams and flash floods have contributed to 60,000 Cambodians leaving their homes in pursuit of dry ground, while more than 130 people have drowned – at least 10 of them in Battambang – and 1.5 million have been affected by floods in 20 of the Kingdom’s 24 provinces. …

One of the few willing to speak on the record, the Puthi Komar Organisation (PKO), an NGO based in Battambang district and funded by a foreign donor since 2009, has tried working alongside the National Disaster Rescue Committee in the past but has consistently been faced with humanitarian needs that require a swifter response, executive director Lim Sophea said.

“We’re a humanitarian organisation uninterested in politics. Both political parties are trying to take advantage of the situation this year,” Sophea said. …

The situation in Battambang has been exacerbated by the Tonle Sap’s overflow, which has destroyed 3,000 hectares of rice paddy fields in Boeung Tim village, in Sangke district’s Tapon commune, deputy chief Yoeum Doum, 60, said. …

Evacuation sites in Banteay Mean­chey’s Mongkul Borei district look like slums; lean-tos precariously border the highway pavement as children play games while watching over poultry, their backs to the nearby traffic. …

Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Amelia Woodside