ADB To Loan $55M for Flood Rehabilitation

The Asian Development Bank will float Cambodia a $55 million loan to cover a majority of the country’s flood-recovery needs, according to the bank’s Phnom Penh office.

The bank has signed a memorandum of understanding agreeing to fund the bulk of the estimated $86 million needed to rehabilitate the water-ravaged countryside over the next three years.

The remaining money needed for flood relief is expected to come from the UN World Food Pro­gram, the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction and the government.

The ADB’s low-interest loan will be used for various projects, from repairing the national road network to providing disaster preparedness training for rural poor, ADB Country Representative Urooj Malik said.

“This is one of the fastest re­sponses ever made in the 34-year history of ADB in processing an emergency loan,” he said. “The speedy response can help min­­imize negative impact on Cam­­bodia’s economic performance.”

The ADB’s board is expected to approve the loan in late De­cem­ber, Malik said.

Malik said flooding has severely affected Cambodia’s economic recovery and slowed poverty elimination efforts. Economists now predict Cambodia’s economic growth in 2000 will fall 1 percent below  the government’s    5.5 percent target increase, according to the bank.

Flooding has plagued Cambo­dia since July, peaking in Sep­tember and October to the highest levels in 40 years. The government estimates flood waters affected nearly 3 million people nationwide, leaving some 1.3 million people in desperate need of food, shelter and medicine.

The National Committee for Disaster Management reported to Prime Minister Hun Sen that 347 people have died, 80 percent of them children.

The committee also estimates 2,621 km of roads and 115 bridges will need work, while land damage has been calculated at 374,107 hectares of rice field and 47,461 hectares of other crops affected. At least 132 health centers need repair. Flooding has damaged 123 irrigation projects.

According to the memorandum, loan money will enable Cambodia to repair the worst-hit national roads and bridges. The funds will also help restore the Kop Srov flood protection dike in Phnom Penh and other irrigation facilities nationwide. Rural roads, bridges and culverts will also be restored with the UN World Food Program’s food-for-work program.

Unique in the rehabilitation effort is direct assistance to the rural poor who lost everything from houses to livestock. Farmers will get assistance in raising cattle and building houses. People will also learn how to minimize damage from natural disasters.

The government says it has given flood relief to 623,104 families, and reports the Red Cross and World Food Program have helped 177,523 families while other NGOs have assisted an additional 49,945 families.







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