Floods Bring Rising Tide of Aid Requests

The Red Cross is asking for $1.2 million for flood relief from donors even though the Asian Development Bank and World Bank provided more than $80 million in loans to the government for infrastructure damaged by floods last year.

The Red Cross appeal raises questions as to how the money donated so far has been used. The banks say the money is not for emergency relief efforts.

“I think it would be in everyone’s best interest, who is working in relief organizations, to assess the flood situation and consider what resources they have at the moment, and then approach the donors for funds,” said Neil Hawkins, country director for CARE International. “If you are a donor, you want to see where the donations are going.”

Hawkins did not criticize the Red Cross request for $1.2 million, but said that since he hasn’t seen an official assessment of the damage caused by floods in Prey Veng, he hasn’t formally requested donations for CARE Inter­national.

He added that while the flooding is severe, the droughts in Banteay Meanchey, Battambang and Prey Veng are harsh as well and need to be monitored closely.

The Cambodian Red Cross said it needs $1.2 million immediately so it can provide flood assistance for 100,000 people who were forced to leave their homes, said Men Neary Sopheak, spokes­­woman for the Cambodia Red Cross.

So far, an estimated 45 people have died and the Red Cross said 608,896 people in 48 districts have been affected by the floods.

Hawkins also expressed an interest in seeing how the ADB and World Bank loans would be used in the current relief effort.

The ADB does not fund any relief projects, since emergency relief is not in its mandate, said Anthony Jude, deputy country director for the ADB. He said the ADB’s $55 million portion of the loan is used for road rehabilitation, dike building and some rice seed distribution.

The loan, which was approved in December and is channeled through the Ministry of Planning, will fund flood-related infrastructure rebuilding for three years.

Jude said he did not know how much of the loan has been used so far.

Bonaventure Mbida-Essama, chief of the liaison office for the World Bank, said their $30 million portion of the loan is also not used for emergency relief.

The World Bank money is used to restore infrastructure, such as schools, that has been damaged by floods. He said he was not aware of how much of the World Bank’s loans had been used.

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