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Cambodia

Protection against flooding

The yearly floods in Cambodia have become more intensive due to climate change and cause more damage. Caritas supports the communities to prepare better for the risks. An important aspect is to ensure the safe supply of clean drinking water.

 

Country / Region
Cambodia, Banteay Meanchey


Target group
33 communities severely affected by poverty and natural disasters. A total of 46,000 people or around 10,000 families.


Funding requirement
CHF 537,891


Project duration
01.08.2014 to 31.03.2018


Project number
P170074


Project objectives
Poor communities, which are regularly affected by floods and droughts, are better equipped to withstand disasters and increase their resilience. Particularly vulnerable communities have better access to water supplies throughout the year.


Project coordinator
Ethel Grabher, Tel: 041 419 23 52, egrabherto make life hard for spam bots@to make life hard for spam botscaritasto make life hard for spam bots.ch


Department
Asia / Europe

 
 

Background information

The after-effects of the civil war, which lasted until 1993, are still noticeable in Cambodia: poor infrastructure, a lack of social welfare provisions and a population marked by poverty. Despite the reconstruction efforts and the increase in national income in recent years, the south-east Asian country is still amongst the poorest and least developed countries in the world. Cambodian society is marked by high poverty rates of 35-40% and growing social disparities between rich and poor. Agriculture is one of the most important economic sectors and provides a livelihood for thousands of families. But agriculture is precisely the sector most affected by the impact of climate change. Extreme floods, typhoons and periods of drought regularly have a severe impact on the country. People are still struggling with the aftermath of the typhoon and flood disasters in 2009 and 2011, and the drought periods which have suddenly become more frequent in recent years. There were again massive floods in October and November 2013, resulting from the many cyclones and typhoons in south-east Asia, which also brought heavy downpours in the wake of storms. According to the UN, 188 people lost their lives in the floods, and 1.7 people in Cambodia were affected by the floods.

The country is flooded every year during the rainy season. However, because of climate change, the floods have become much higher and stronger in recent years. The floods not only cause unexpected destruction, they also lead to drinking water contamination which poses a grave risk, especially for small children, of dying as a result of fatal diarrhoeal diseases. These new conditions affect particularly the poorest villages and families. They do not have the resources to cope with the disasters.

Cambodia has in fact large potential water resources. It has lakes, rivers, a lot of groundwater and seasonal rainfalls. But this potential is far from being exploited. The poor rural population cannot use this water effectively. Households and agriculture have insufficient water during the dry season. This means that the small farmers can only cultivate their fields during the rainy season. The situation is particularly drastic in the north-west of the country, in Banteay Meanchey province. In 2013, 23,000 hectares of rice paddies were destroyed by the drought. Less than one fifth of the population has a toilet or latrine, and 72 per cent do not even have access to clean drinking water in this region.

 

What are we doing?

The aim of the project is for people to gain the capacity to strengthen their resilience, so they are less vulnerable to natural disasters. The risk of being sucked into a downward spiral of poverty is to be reduced.

Communities analyse their situation in cooperation with the public authorities. Risks are identified, and the villages determine jointly how they can prepare better for floods and droughts. To this end, the project carries out a participatory survey of who, how and where people are most at risk from droughts, floods or other natural forces. Together with the public authorities, action plans and water management plans are prepared at the municipal and village level.

The surveys are conducted by a team of experts from organisations and government agencies, together with the affected inhabitants. People from the communities, representatives of government agencies and of local organisations are trained in disaster preparedness so they can warn the population in good time and protect the people, the fields and goods. These activities provide a basis for working with the community and the public authorities towards disaster prevention.

Alongside disaster risk reduction, measures are devised to improve the infrastructure (paved road, raised emergency shelter, bridges, boat mooring places), the methods used in agriculture (water use, irrigation and dry rice cultivation), and measures for sustainable environmental use are promoted (reforestation, stabilisation of fields and paths). All these measures help the people in these poor areas to deal more effectively with disasters and climate change.

The water supply is an important component of these measures. Clean, filtered drinking water must be available to the poorest people during floods. Water tanks allow reserves to be established for periods of drought.

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