Flooding Caused Evacuation of 31,000 Houses

More than 31,000 households were evacuated and 168 people died across 20 provinces during this year’s rainy-season flooding, according to the Humanitarian Response Forum (HRF), which released its final report on the flooding Monday.

In general, flooding did not affect Cambodia as badly as in 2011, when more than 50,000 families were evacuated, according to the HRF, a network of U.N. agencies and relief NGOs.

“Compared to the events in 2011, floods in 2013 appear to have been less extensive in scale, although in some provinces the impact…was more significant due to a combination of factors such as: unexpected gravity of the floods…longer time for waters to recede, repeated floods and flash floods, limited preparedness undertaken in advance, limited early warning,” the report says.

In Battambang, Stung Treng, Siem Reap, Ratanakkiri, Banteay Meanchey and Pailin provinces, more families had to be evacuated than two years ago, and nationwide, the number of affected families was worse, with about 370,000 compared to 350,000 in 2011, and in Battambang province, 60,000 more families were affected this year.

World Vision, which provided assistance to about 12,000 households, said Monday the country needed to be better prepared for future flooding, but that a lack of coordination was the main holdup for relief efforts.

“I think it’s more about the leadership role of the NCDM [National Committee for Disaster Management]. We would expect more coordination among the key players; now, everyone is working separately,” Leng Vireak, World Vision’s manager for disaster response, said, adding that he hoped that a new action plan for the upcoming four years would improve cooperation.

A report on the NCDM’s work by the Asian Development Bank found that the committee was severely understaffed, that staff often did not know their own job titles, and that the committee failed to meet regularly and did not have an annual budget.

Keo Vy, cabinet chief of the NCDM, rejected that criticism Monday, adding that the committee had fulfilled its obligations and that it had properly coordinated the work of NGOs.

“These organizations cooperated with the Cambodian Red Cross and the National Committee for Disaster Management,” Mr. Vy said.

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