The National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) of the Royal Government of Cambodia

NCDM is a well-functioning governmental inter-ministerial agency that is able assist the Royal Government of Cambodian in coping with disaster in the Kingdom Mission: To lead the Disaster Management in the Kingdom of Cambodia.
To lead the Disaster Management in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Functions and Responsibilities To make recommendations to the Royal Government and issue principles, main policies to assure safety and security of people from disasters and issue warnings on Disaster Preparedness and Management cum the measures for Emergency Response and interventions during disaster.

Functions and Responsibilities

Compared to its performance in the flood of 2000, the NCDM was more extensively involved in on-site damage and needs assessment in year 2001 and year 2002. This was in part due to higher level of preparedness by the NCDM for the floods of the last two years and, including the conduct of two (2) "lessons learned" workshops at the provincial level and one at the national workshop. In the provincial workshops the "joint assessment process" included members of the Provincial Committees for Disaster Management or PCDMs in the provinces of Kompong Cham, Prey Veng and Takeo. Among the issues and concerns identified during these workshops were the following:

The actions of the PCDMs were limited due to inadequacy of flood early warning. Weather forecasts and predicting the extent and severity of the flooding was not accurate. As a consequence the level of preparedness was inadequate. Flood prediction was only available for one day forewarning only. Indeed, from a preparedness perspective, the length of forewarning was not adequate. Additionally, although television broadcasts provide situational update on the damages of flood, no public awareness about its consequences and what local actions need to be taken before and during the flood were provided.

The PCDM members noted that the absence of any partnership agreement and implementing guidelines for PCDM collaborative action prohibited the effectiveness of coordination and cooperation between PCDM, NGOs and international organizations. Mobilization at the provincial level included identification of communities needing evacuation and their movement to safer place, protection of existing embankments, and distribution of relief assistance to individual families. The PCDMs in two provinces noted that NCDM training had helped them in identifying and mobilizing critical local resources that were controlled by individual government agencies. This includes the province of Kompong Cham that was provided disaster management training under the ADRC Human Resources Development on Disaster Management project.

As a result of these experiences, several provinces recommended that they should be equipped with the necessary management skills and resources to minimize damages of future disasters. The PCDMs expressed the need for them, and all PCDMs, to develop the following capabilities:

In other provinces, PCDMs reported the serious inadequacy of transport and communication facilities was the most important problem during the flood. Due to this, critical information from the affected communes was difficult to obtain and caused delay in government response. The transmission of damage reports to NCDM and national Ministries was also perceived to be unsatisfactory due to the same reason. PCDM stated that there are two sets of reports from the provincial level: a) sector specific report to individual Ministries, and b) PCDM report which summarized sectoral report.

The individual provincial offices routinely send reports to their national Ministries in Phnom Penh without sharing these to the PCDM of Takeo indicating inadequacy in coordination. However, several field offices such as the Health Department took the initiatives to collaborate with selected organizations such as the Cambodian Red Cross Provincial Branch in the delivery of assistance to affected communities. The respondent however critically cited the delay in their response time (outbreak of diarrhea) due to late reporting of incident and the inadequacy of transport to reach the affected area. It is important to note that the PCDM in this province had not been provided with any prior disaster management training by NCDM.

During the Feedback Workshop conducted in Phnom Penh in April of 2001, the participants among the provincial leadership further noted the importance of strengthening the PCDMs who perform dual role of coordination of response and implementation of critical activities. There is recognition that strengthening PCDM is congruent with the efforts to decentralize delivery of services from the national to the provincial and district levels. The participants also emphasized the importance of closer operational relationships with NGOs such as sharing of information of NGO resources, relief operations and results of programs to avoid duplication of assistance in some communities and also ensuring that all those communities who need assistance receive these.

The Provincial Governors were grateful to receive information that Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen had instructed the allocation of permanent budget for NCDM. The participants recommended that PCDM must also receive the appropriate financial allocation applicable to their roles and responsibilities under disaster management. Assistance to the PCDMs must also include training in the various aspects of disaster management.

During the National Workshop conducted in 2001, comments from various respondents however revealed that there were operational and coordination problems that would necessitate improvement in the system of damage and needs assessment of NCDM. They are cited below:

UN-OCHA: Information needed to target the most vulnerable groups are not shared by the government with NGOs in affected areas resulting to uncoordinated relief efforts at the local level. The system of comparing damage and needs information between government and NGOs such as convening the Emergency Response Group at the national level have to be strengthened. There is lack of clarity on what information are important for recovery and rehabilitation planning.
PCDM: NCDM should provide them clearer and improved guidelines in damage and needs assessment in relation to the flood experience, particularly on what information are required by the national government to provide support to PCDM. Additionally, PCDM must also be assisted in gathering information that will help them (PCDM) make appropriate and timely decisions for actions required at the local level.
NCDM: Focal points at the PCDM, district level, commune level to collect information have not been adequately equipped with skills and resources to perform this responsibility. PCDM Secretariats are not well established and there are no permanent offices and office equipment and supplies necessary for their functioning. There was an improvement in the cooperation of other Ministries in providing information for NCDM, but can still be enhanced. NCDM lacks the necessary logistical resources such as computers, telephones, fax machines, vehicles, and email connection.
NGOs: The Emergency Response Group and its sub committees, as an information sharing mechanism involving NGOs, have to be more meaningful and better planned and managed. Except for Kompong Cham and Battambang, the PCDM in most provinces affected by the flood had not convened any provincial level coordination meeting that involved NGOs. However, these coordination meetings were made after it was realized that flood was severe and no proactive actions were taken prior to this event. Drawing on national and international experience, NCDM should take the lead in the process of developing consistent standards in damage and needs assessment and response and should be able to monitor compliance. A disaster management policy and the inter-ministerial agreement over policy is key. The policy must allow definition of the nature of the role of NGOs in disaster management. Disaster management must address the long-term food security issues and other unresolved development root causes such as poverty and vicious debt cycle among poor people.

One of the most important lessons learned from the flood of 2000 is that there is an urgent necessity for improving inter agency or inter organizational coordination. As a starting point, if there is recognition that future damaging disasters will happen, NCDM must be assisted to improve its capacity, system and procedures in damage and needs assessment and reporting. Such information is important if coordination have to be achieved. At the moment, there are areas that need to be improved as cited to the Assessment Team by various organizations and stakeholders. These are:

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