UN Announces Launch of New Disaster Database

The National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) and the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) have launched Cambodia’s first comprehensive database for tracking the progress of natural disasters such as droughts and flooding.

In a statement posted online Friday, the UNDP said the Disaster Loss Database, or CamDi, was activated on Wednesday, a little more than a year after the U.N. commissioned its creation to consolidate data on disaster loss and damage that until recently had been spread across several ministries.

The database will include figures on everything from deaths from lightening strikes to the number of homes and amount of land affected by floodwaters.

“The importance of this disaster database system cannot be overstated,” UNDP deputy country director Napoleon Navarro said in the statement. “It is very useful for the government and development partners in the current joint efforts to save lives as well as…to deal with other disaster events.”

NGOs and aid agencies have been highly critical of the NCDM’s ability to do its job coordinating disaster response and recovery efforts. Earlier this month, a report com­missioned by the Asian Development Bank found that most com­mittee employees did not know their job descriptions. And just last week, an of­ficial admitted that a three-year-old plan to establish a data system to keep track of annual government emergencies relief funds was still not ready.

As for the latest flooding, NCDM First Vice President Nhim Vanda said it had killed 168 people, forced between 50,000 and 60,000 families out of their homes and broadly affected some 1.8 million Cambodians.

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