Nat’l Agency, UN Probe Rural Food Security

The UN and the National Com­mittee for Disaster Manage­ment are launching investigations into reports of rural food shortages following drought and flash floods in several provinces.

The UN World Food Program is assessing the hunger situation in Kompong Speu and Oddar Meanchey provinces, said Yuki­nori Hibi, the WFP’s relief program officer. He said the WFP as­sessments are gauging the impact of drought and flash flooding after initial reports from field staff.

Oddar Meanchey “seems the worst food-insecure area,” Hibi said Monday. Needs must be confirmed before delivering any aid, he said. “We don’t know how many people, where, what communes,” Hibi said.

Drought damage is particularly hard to measure, as opposed to flash flooding that clearly displaces people without food. “Drought is difficult to see because people stay at home, but their cooking and food is running out,” he said.

The National Committee for Disaster Management is currently assessing food needs in Pursat province following flash flooding Saturday. Floods in Bakan, Kan­dieng and Sampou Meas districts affected at least 3,124 people and inundated rice fields, NCDM Secretary-General Peou Samy said by telephone from Pursat on Monday. “We could not see the rice—everywhere we could see only water,” he said.

The extent of food aid will be partly determined by how much of the rice crop is destroyed by the time floodwaters recede, he said.

Peou Samy also said food insecurity is particularly great in Oddar Meanchey. He said he intends to work with the provincial disaster management committee to determine food security there.

Dr Uy Sam Ath, director of disaster management for the Cam­bo­dian Red Cross, said his organization is awaiting the government’s assessments before planning emergency relief.

“I hope that the assistance needed will be provided by the government,” Uy Sam Ath said. “Right now it is very difficult because we don’t have the capacity to cope,” he said, referring to the lack of relief supplies. “If the government receives enough information, the CRC will assist NCDM.”


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