In the wake of severe drought this year and with heavy rain predicted in the next weeks, work has begun on a European Union funded EUR 1 million project to boost disaster resilience in Cambodia.
The programme, which commenced in July 2016, aims to help at least 150,000 Cambodians prepare for droughts, floods and storms. However, for the first time, work is focused on cities like Phnom Penh and Kampot, as much as rural areas in Kampong Speu, Siem Reap, Battambang and Kampong Chhnang provinces.
"Climate change means natural disasters are getting more frequent and more severe across the country,” said Hun Boramey, Acting Country Director at ActionAid Cambodia. “The 2013 floods cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and the human cost of this year’s drought is impossible to calculate”.
As well as drawing up village, commune and district emergency plans, plus trainings for local and national officials, the project will expand a mobile phone-based Early Warning System to four new provinces. Via the free number ‘1294’ on most major mobile networks, the system calls registered users with a recorded message offering information and advice on impending threats in their area. About 65,000+ people in three provinces had already signed up in 2015.
The project will also offer radio public information broadcasts and community awareness campaigns on the importance of preparing ahead; support for the Joint Action Group forum of 15 NGOs working on disaster reduction; a strategy to get more women into emergency leadership; climate-resilient agriculture coaching for farmers; and new drought monitoring systems for particularly vulnerable areas of Kampong Speu.
The project consortium includes ActionAid Cambodia (AAC), DanChurch Aid/Christian Aid (DCA/CA) and Czech NGO People in Need (PIN) plus three local partner NGOs in target provinces and cities. The funding of EUR 941,000 from the European Union’s Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO) lasts until September 2017.
This latest funding enables the continuation of ECHO projects carried out over the last decade to ensure that as many Cambodians as possible have the right kind of disaster plans, training and infrastructure in place. Activities funded under the latest phase will be in line with new recommendations passed at the Sendai World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015.