In 2001, a Joint Assessment of NCDM's Capacity and Capability was initiated by NCDM, with assistance from Cambodian Red Cross (CRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). An Assessment Team was organized among these principals. To lead the Team, IFRC hired the technical services of the Philippine-based International Institute for Disaster Risk Management (IDRM). The Team also included active participation of representatives from UN-Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA) and the World Food Programme (WFP) in Cambodia.

The Assessment was comprehensive and the process led to the development of a Five-Year Institutional Development Strategy and a Two-Year Action Plan that had engaged almost all of the important stakeholders of disaster management in Cambodia. These include consultation with all the NCDM Secretariat staffs, member-Ministries, all the provincial Governors, international organizations and a number of NGOs. More importantly, the Assessment process also included close consultation with the Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen, who also acts as President/Chairman of the National Committee for Disaster Management.

Under the institutional strategy and action plan adopted, the following components were identified and are now being given much attention and effort by the NCDM since the year 2002 so far:

  1. Disaster Management Policy and its implementation

  2. Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response

  3. Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy

  4. Disaster Management Information System

Major achievements have been realized by the NCDM in the implementation of the two-year action plan and the institutional development strategy. The following accomplishments have been realized:

Early Warning
Closer ties have been established with the Mekong River Commission (MRC) culminating in a 2-day Early Warning and Flood Forecasting Workshop conducted last July 2002. The workshop was attended by NCDM staff, government line ministries, PCDMs and concerned NGOs. The workshop included hands-on training for participants in accessing and interpreting flood warning and forecasting data and information that can be found at the MRC website.
Disaster Management Policy
A new Royal decree and Sub-decree signed last February and April 2002 respectively, that more clearly defines the coordinating authority of the NCDM for disaster risk management. The new policy effectively improves the organization of the NCDM and spells out more clearly the roles and responsibilities of the various ministries as they relate to the management of disasters in the country.
A new Circular (Circular No.1 series of 2002) has recently been approved and signed by the Prime Minister. The Circular outlines official government policy on the function of PCDMs/DCDMs and paves the way for a smoother implementation of the Damage and Needs Assessment systems and procedures.
Orientation field visits to eleven (11) provinces to disseminate new Sub-decree and Circular by HE Nhim Vanda and senior staff of NCDM. Discussion of the Circular and the new Sub-decree with various government ministries was separately conducted last July 2002. The two circulars were then renewed the validation and mandate by Samdech Prime Minister to be the legitimated legal based documents for disaster preparedness that were disseminated and implemented in year 2003 in all flood prone provinces.
Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response
Before the flood of 2000, preparedness for NCDM meant the yearly allocation of 400, 000,000 riels to NCDM operations and contingencies annually, withdrawing up to 400- 800 metric tons rice reserve from the Ministry of Commerce for relief operations, and the conduct of training for a) core team of trainers composed of 17 government officials (11 NCDM, 6 from other Ministries). Additionally, NCDM has recently conducted training courses for 5 PCDMs in Prey Veng, Kampot, Kompong Cham, Kandal and Pursat. Pursuant to the orders of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Economy and Finance has allocated appropriate and adequate budget to NCDM starting at fiscal year 2002. He has also formed an initial force of 2,000 active soldiers who would compose the "Disaster Response Force" The following actions were also undertaken to address the challenges of disaster response.
Strengthening leadership and effective coordination of various Ministries and organizations' actions in a timely and urgent manner, based on the disaster situation.
Identification, training and equipping a "disaster strike force" within the military forces of Cambodia who are strategically located to respond and assist civilian population quickly and efficiently;
Assisting vulnerable communities in preparing plans and acquiring "disaster resistant" community infrastructures such as pagodas, schools that will help them cope with floods and other types of disasters.
Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy
The World Bank and the Royal Government of Cambodia has agreed to a flood rehabilitation program with financial assistance from the Bank. The objective of the project is "to rehabilitate economic and social infrastructure damaged by the 2000 floods while also indirectly supporting recovery in rural production and incomes. Another objective is to assist the Government in formulating a long term strategy aimed at reducing the country's vulnerability to flooding.EThe World Bank Mission also cited that it would work with other donors such as the ADB, JICA and the Mekong River Commission on this aspect.
Disaster Management Information System
Current efforts of the NCDM are focus on the development and installation of a National Disaster Damage and Needs Assessment System. The UN-DMT, through the World Food Program (WFP) and UNICEF provided funding for the development of such a system.

The Disaster Management Information System

To complement UN-DMT initiatives in installing Damage and Needs Assessment System and procedure in the country, NCDM submitted a small proposal in year 2002 to the Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC), a regional disaster management institution based in Kobe, Japan for funding of damage and need assessment training courses in 5 provinces. Until January 2003 the project was able to get financial support from the ADRC. However, the project activities were able to start until April 2003 due to time challenges for NCDM in response to flood year 2002.

The Damage and Needs Assessment system and procedures produced by the IDRM has been disseminated to all UNDMT members and selected NGOs (International Federation of Red Cross, CRC, OXFAM and AAH) for their comments. The final version has just been prepared by the NCDM. Under this project, a more rational and systematic reporting of damage and needs assessment in targeted provinces has been on way of setting up.

NCDM training staff worked with consultants from IDRM to develop training curriculum. By early January 2003, the final curriculum for the national level training was ready for a national level training workshop. With financial support from the World Vision International the Training Workshop for National Disaster Assessment Team was successfully conducted from Febrary12-14, 2003 in Phnom Penh by NCDM and IDRM. Then the training team of NCDM adapted the training curriculum into a provincial training level. Five training courses were delivered earlier in 5 provinces; Kandal, Prey Veng, Kampong Cham, Kratie and Kampong Speu, in which five Provincial Disaster Assessment Team (PDATs) were successfully established.

The success of the five training courses had convinced the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) financially supported another two training courses in Kampong Chhnang and Battambang Provinces. Consequently, another two PDATs were also formed that NCDM has now totally 7 PDATs in 7 provinces.

Through the project, a more rational and systematic reporting of damage and needs assessment in all seventy-two (72) districts in seven (7) of the most flood-prone provinces in Cambodia were installed at the provincial and district levels. These include the provinces of Kandal (11 districts), Prey Veng (12 districts), Kratie (5 districts), Kampong Cham (16 districts), and Kampong Spue (8 districts), Kampong Chhang (8 districts) and Battambang (12 districts).

In the workshops, PCDM and DCDM staff were provided with a detailed orientation on the systems and procedures for assessing damage brought about by disasters and in calculating or estimating the food and other emergency needs of the affected population. The workshop included simulation of a disaster event where actual use of the reporting formats and the procedures prescribed will be tested. Actual response times, including the time it takes for the reports to reach NCDM offices in Phnom Penh will be monitored and experiences based on the application of the project in these provinces will be used to refine the system, if and when it is found to be necessary.

It is expected that a more efficient and effective response to local disaster events, particularly flooding, will be experienced in the provinces where the workshops were conducted. In case of future severe disasters, it can be expected that the NCDM will be able to provide international disaster response organization with more reliable disaster reports in a relatively shorter period of time than previously experienced. Status or levels of Damage and Needs Assessment will be documented before and after the conduct of the workshops to determine the extent of the efficacy of the workshop and of the systems and procedures it aims to put in place. Next step NCDM will try to replicate the program in the remaining nine provinces of the Kingdom with specified training curricular adapted to the nature of the disasters in the provinces.

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