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4-Organization for Disaster Management  

A-The current capacity/capabilities of NCDM Cambodia

 

The flood of 2000 and 2001 was unprecedented in severity of effects and magnitude of affected areas. Due to this, in a review of the capacity of NCDM, a major conclusion made by government Ministries, NGOs, IOs and provincial leadership highlighted the fact that the NCDM and disaster management systems in the country need strengthening. The areas and challenges that will require assistance are as follows:

 

1-Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response

Overall the extent of the severity of the flood 2000 and 2001 exceeded the very modest flood preparedness measure of NCDM to reduce the impact of flood. Indeed there were relative improvements on the capacity of NCDM with regard to responding to the flood of 2000, compared to their response in 1996, but these improvements were not commensurate to the scope and extent of required responses in both events.  

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For the year 2002 before the flood, preparedness for NCDM meant the yearly allocation of 2000million riels to NCDM operations and contingencies annually, withdrawing upto 400- 800 metric tons rice reserve from the Ministry of Commerce for relief operations, and prepare in advance the provision of relief items, plastic sheet, mobile homes, mean of rescue and evacuation, fuel, food, medicine and conduct the public awareness to the local communities in the areas prone to disaster.

 

In response to this situation, the Royal Government of Cambodia embarked on a large emergency relief program, perhaps the biggest in its young history of governance. NCDM reports that the emergency relief provided was composed mainly of rice distribution totaling to: 17,689. 735 metric tons of rice benefiting 716,230 flood-affected families. The relief assistance also included cash, dried food, noodles, clothes, and tarpaulin sheets.

 

To finance this relief operation, the RGC used funds from its national budget and from donations received from local and international donors following an appeal made by the RGC. NCDM reports that total contribution received by the RGC included cash (US$ 357, 420) and in kind contribution amounting to US$ 764, 995 for a total of US$ 1,122, 416.  

2000 Flood Impact: Analysis at the Household Level

by Chan Sophal, Cambodia Development Research Institute

Cambodia Development Review Volume 4, Issue 1, January-March 2001[i]

 

The average Cambodian household has five people. Those cultivating wet season rice have about one hectare of land on average. Those whose rice have been completely destroyed by the flood, which is the case for nearly 400,000 households, have lost a potential gross income of about 900,000 riels (1,800 kg per ha x 500 riels per kg). After subtracting further costs such as fertilizers and harvesting, an average household has lost potential net earnings of about 800,000 riels-an amount crucial for them.  They need the cash for items such as meat, clothing and medical treatment.

 

How much relief have the flood victims received so far? The government has stated that every affected household has received a relief package from someone. The governmentfs relief package comprises 25 kg of rice (worth about 20,000 riels), 20,000 riels cash, one sarong, one krama, 20 packs of instant noodles, and one plastic sheet (for roofing). This package is worth about 70,000 riels (about US$ 18). In addition, the government has been distributing rice for seed to many households. Other agencies such as WFP and CRC have jointly provided some assistance (40 kg of rice per household to about 24 per cent of the households affected by the floods). This relief is estimated to be worth 30,000 riels per household.

 

Although information on all the relief provided is not available, a rough, but reasonably sound calculation of the donations received by an average household is possible. If every flood-affected household received the governmentfs relief package worth 70,000 riels and other donations worth another 30,000 riels, the relief received per household would total about 100,000 riels (US$ 25).

 

If, as calculated above, an average household dependent on wet season rice cultivation has lost potential net earnings of 800,000 riels (US$ 200) and the combine relief provided by government and donors total only 100,000 riels, poor farmers who have lost their rice crop will have 700,000 riels less for the rest of the year. The question then is, how can poor farmers make up for their considerable loss? The 700,000 riels will have come from somewhere it the poor are not to become poorer.

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2-Disaster Management Information System

One of the most important lessons learned from the flood of 2000 and 2001 we recognizes that the information management still limited because lack of human resources and materials-equipments such as telecommunication tools, computer and encouragement 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:

The system of comparing damage and needs information between government and NGOs such as convening the Emergency Response Group at the national level and local levels have to be strengthened. There is lack of clarity on what information is important for recovery and rehabilitation planning.
Situation reporting by NCDM lacks information necessary for crisis or contingency management to anticipate emerging severity of floods in various stages.
The data storage at NCDM (currently using spread sheets) should be improved utilizing information technology (every village in Cambodia are GPS mapped and coded) already in use.
NCDM should provide PCDM 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 and information required for improved management of crisis at the local level.
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. NCDM lacks the necessary logistical resources such as computers, telephones, fax machines, vehicles, and email/internet connection.

 

3-Public Awareness and Community based Disaster Preparedness

 

The lack of knowledge by the general Cambodian public and national and local officials about the severity of hazards that may affect them, and precautions to be taken is perhaps, one of the most significant gap in present day efforts to mitigate the potentially disastrous effects of most hazards. The NCDM has not been engaged in a public awareness program and does not have a public awareness strategy or plan, an important foundation in other countries with regular and sever natural and manmade disaster. There also exists an opportunity for NCDM to provide a coordinating role in establishing and implementing community based disaster preparedness program in partnership with Cambodian Red Cross and NGOs. Experience show that disaster impact poor families and worsen poverty conditions disaster destroys basic social services such as water, health, and education facilities and disaster destroy means of livelihood. While the responsibilities for disaster management continues to remain with the Cambodian Royal Government, there are role that some NGOs could play in reducing the impact of disaster in Cambodian communities. NGOs are good in local and community level facilitation of channeling assistance to the most vulnerable group

 

4-Early Warning System

Information distributed by the Mekong River Commission and the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology about flood situation have now been widely available and used in 2001, an improvement from the flood operations in year 2000.

The weather forecast and predicting the extent and severity of flood disaster was not accurate. As a consequence, the level of preparedness was inadequate.h This statement quoted from NCDM report on lessons learned workshop in two provinces clearly indicates that the PCDMfs actions were limited due to inadequacy of flood early warning. Prior to the flood season of 2000, flood prediction was based on manual calculation.[ii] During the flood season of 2000, the hydrological flood forecast model (FFM) which is based on computer spreadsheet (Excel) software was used. Despite of this improvement, flood prediction was 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.

During the flood season, an emergent organization was established. The National Committee for Flood Protection and Management of the RGC was established in September 8, 2000 as a framework for flood forecasting and response. The Committee is headed by the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology (H.E. Lim Kean Hor) with eight members namely:

Secretary of State of Cabinet Minister
Secretary of State of Ministry of Economic and Finance
Secretary of State of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Secretary of State of Ministry of Defense
Secretary of State of Ministry of Public Works and Transportation
Secretary of State of Ministry of Health
Deputy Governor,
Phnom Penh City
First Director General of National Police
Secretary General of the National Committee for Disaster Management

 

5-Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy

A strategy that is proactive is desirable especially for a country like Cambodia with limited resources to replace damaged properties due to recurring disasters. A disaster management strategy consists of analysis and planning for a wide range of issues corresponding to all aspects of disaster management, namely, vulnerability assessment, prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and rehabilitation. The process starts with a hazard and vulnerability (risk) analysis, and an analysis of major requirements for coping with disasters. These requirements include short and long term measures and detailed support mechanisms to implement these measures. While the strategy development is concentrated in Cambodia , analysis may also include multi faceted (physical, political, environmental) relationship with other MRC riparian countries. The process may also include the introduction of emerging trends, approaches and technology in disaster management.

 

A strategy then should describe the priorities that need to be addressed and how they can be dealt with, based on the analysis made. It is very important that the nature and objectives of the national disaster management strategy should contribute to the development goals of Cambodia such as effective governance, poverty alleviation, environmental protection, and improved access to basic social services. Cambodia , especially after recently experiencing a damaging flood and with the recognition that similar events may occur in the future; is in urgent need to be assisted in developing a comprehensive disaster management strategy.

 

B-Inter-agency Coordination  

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The main role of the National Committee of Disaster Management (NCDM) is to closely coordinate and promote co-operation with ministerial institutions of the Royal Government of Cambodia, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations especially when appeal for humanitarian assistance is necessary. This is to ensure that responses such as emergency relief and rehabilitation programs are effectively implemented to maximize resources and avoid duplication of assistance through coordinated actions after damaging disasters.

The National Committee of Disaster Management (NCDM) has taken the role of chairing the NCDM Working Group (formerly the Emergency Response Group) which was traditionally chaired by the Cambodian Red Cross. Its main purpose is to be the focal point for coordination/information sharing with all concerned. The Working Group Meeting is held every Friday Morning at the NCDM Cabinet Office, to exchange ideas, on actions taken, and difficulties encountered in providing relief to poor people who are affected by natural disasters.

C-Training Tasks

 

The National Committee for Disaster Management widely promoted Circular No.2, through provincial and district level committees. NCDM also raised awareness of the Institutional Development Strategy and the Circular No.2 to other ministerial institutions of the Royal Government as well as with national and international organizations.  

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  The Royal Armed Forces of Cambodia has developed its own disaster intervention plan and trained its own officers to be able to response in situation that will require their assistance.

The National Committee of Disaster Management (NCDM) has also nominated its national officials to attend workshops and participate in training activities of the provincial and district committees. The focus of these activities had been on raising awareness on the need for capacity building and explaining their important roles and tasks at their designated level. NCDM has also sent its national level officials in meetings with relevant ministerial institutions of the Royal Government and with international and non-governmental organizations.

NCDM also sent staffs and officials to consultative workshops and other training courses abroad conducted by other international organizations in order to improve knowledge in disaster management tasks. Under this, the most important participation of NCDM was HE Nhim Vanda's attendance to the Consultative Group meeting for Cambodia on June 13th, 2001 at Tokyo , Japan who as earlier mentioned, reported on disaster situation in Cambodia and the NCDM Institutional Development Strategy.  

D-Funding Plan

The Ministry of Economy and Finance on the instruction of Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen last March 29, 2001 will develop and facilitate the approval of a permanent budget to NCDM for fiscal year 2002 starting January. This is expected to include salaries for personnel, operating costs, office equipment and supplies and undetermined contingency fund (subject for further planning).

During the visit of the RGC Delegation to South Korea (April9-11, 2001), it is expected that financial and material support will be provided on a grant basis. This support includes the acquisition of rescue boats and associated supplies under the proposed gDisaster Response Forceh

The source for the balance of the costs of the program would still have to be identified and negotiated. For this reason, the Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen has instructed that the NCDM two year plan be presented to the next Consultative Group Meeting on June 2001 to be held in Tokyo , Japan . Prior to this, this, a number of donors were consulted by the Assessment Team, to enhance their understanding and acceptance of the proposed strategy.

 

E-FACTORS THAT WILL INCREASE LIKELIHOOD OF SUCCESS

The nature of the program, i.e. institutional development in disaster management is largely dependent on the political will of the leadership at the national level, ministries, and provincial governors. The severity of the flood of 2000 and the extensive consultation, partnership and perceived ownership of the RGC leadership of the NCDM strategy is an assurance that for at least in the medium term (2 years), the strategy implementation will be one of the most important priorities. The personal interest and support provided by the Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen further strengthen this assumption.

In addition, IOs, donors, NGOs and the development banks are expected to support the institutional development program. This assumption is based on the fact that the NCDM Strategy is congruent to the priorities of these organizations such as humanitarian assistance, poverty alleviation, effective governance and civil service, and overall socio economic development. Alongside with this is the realization that the achievements of these development programs could be negated and damaged by devastating and gun-managed, un-mitigated disastersh such as flood and drought.

The upcoming commune election also brings opportunity for implementing start up activities at the village level including community based disaster preparedness and public awareness. When commune level leadership is established, it is expected that responsibility for community level projects and their implementation will be enhanced.

Ironically the possible occurrence of actual disaster events in the country may contribute to additional support to NCDM Institutional Development Strategy, especially, if positive results and benefits become obvious to various stakeholders. But risk is also prevailing if despite of the investments made to NCDM, the institution will not be able to show good performance and practical results.

An associated risk is the improper assignment of personnel at NCDM both at the Cabinet and the General Secretariat. Personnel have to be selected based on commitment and basic skills in disaster management coordination, including their willingness and ability to work with other ministries, NGOs, and IOs.

The rigid and rational selection of international consultants is an important action to enhance the likelihood of success of the strategy. The RGC leadership must critically examine the nature of involvement and accomplishments of previous NCDM consultants and identify and select those who have delivered significant results. NCDM leadership must be mindful that consultants should be selected based on demonstrated success and ability in the major program objectives of the strategy. It must select those whom they can trust and whom they can work effectively as a team.

The biggest risk would be the inadequacy of funding and technical support to the NCDM Strategy. This may be due to other pressing competing priorities. But the flood of 2000 show that stakeholders are willing to provide the necessary assistance in magnitude equal to the needs of Cambodia. However, assistance was provided after the disaster has occurred and this willingness to assist may not be applicable to programs to prepare for and reduce the potential damages of these disasters.

Overall however, at the start of this project in 2001, the positive factors cited above outweigh the existing risk assumptions.

However, one of the most important lessons learned from the past is that we should continuously develop readiness at community level, because disasters occur communities in Cambodia and in other countries of the Mekong region. One of the practical actions according to Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen is to establish safe areas, schools, and pagoda and be ready to allocate budget, equipments, fuels, food for immediate availability and allocation. He also emphasized the need for improved disaster preparedness through coordinated actions at the community level.

In order to ensure achieving fruitful and meaningful results in 2002, the National Committee of Disaster Management is expressing its commitment in performing its mandated roles under guidance of Samdech Prime Minister. NCDM will strive to work in cooperation with other Government Ministries, international donors and organizations, non government organization and the provincial and district level committees, in performing effective disaster management duties and contribute to poverty alleviation strategies as mandated by the Royal Government of Cambodia.


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Contact list

 

HE. Nhim Vanda

The first Vice President of the National Committee for Disaster Management of Cambodia (NCDM)
Phone: (855) 23 21 11 71
Fax: (855) 23 21 10 30

 

Mr.Peauv Samy

Secretary General of NCDM
Phone(855) 23 21 11 71
Fax: (855) 23 2110 30

 

Mr.Ponn Narith

Under Secretary General of NCDM
Phone(855) 23 21 11 71
Fax: (855) 23 21 10 30

 

Mr.Khun Sokha

Head of Emergency-Response & Rehabilitation Department
Phone(855) 23 21 11 71
Fax: (855) 23 21 10 30

 

Mr.So Ban Heang

Consultant to the first Vice President of NCDM
Phone (855) 23 21 11 71
Fax: (855) 23 21 10 30

 

Mr.Ross Sovan

Consultant to the first Vice President of NCDM
Phone (855) 23 21 11 71
Fax: (855) 23 21 10 30

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