Recovery efforts helping ease the plight of flood affected communities

Cambodian villagers transport rice harvest on a dirt road in Thlong village, Siem Reap province in northwestern Cambodia. The road was damaged during the 2013 floods but was rehabilitated in 2014 thanks to funding UNDP helped raise through its post-flood assessment report. (Photo: UNDP Cambodia)

Cambodia was hit by devastating floods in 2013. A combination of heavy rain and the swelling of the Mekong River water caused substantial damages to infrastructure and crop, disrupting livelihoods of many poor Cambodians in the countryside.

“It was very difficult for me to go to the district hospital and for all the villagers to go buy food because the road was out” due to the floods, said Mr. Chan Morn who lives in Thlong village, a flood prone area in Siem Reap province in northwestern Cambodia.

Highlights

  • The floods in 2013 affected 377,354 households and 1.8 million individuals living in 20 provinces
  • The floods in 2013 cost Cambodia more than USD356 million in damages and losses

The 80-year-old man also recalled that it would take almost two hours to go from his village to the district town hospital, which is just 20 kilometres away. Now, the journey takes half an hour.  

A sense of relief is now pervading among the affected communities after development partners injected funds for recovery and rehabilitation projects. This followed the release of the post-flood early needs assessment report by UNDP Cambodia in April 2014.

The floods caused the death of 168 people most of whom were children. They left behind an extensive trail of devastation across 20 provinces. Thousands of hectares of rice were destroyed and hundreds of kilometers of rural roads, which serve as crucial economic lifeline for the rural poor, were damaged.

At the Cambodian government’s request, UNDP Cambodia conducted a post-flood early needs assessment (PFERNA), which estimated the cost of damages to be around US$356 million. Of this, US$153 million were in the destruction of physical assets in the affected areas, and US$203 million in losses in production and economic flows. The report, which was shared widely among the government institutions and development partners, led to the mobilization of some US$200 million from donors in grant and loan to finance reconstruction projects some of which have already been completed and some are still underway.

“We would like to express our profound appreciations to UNDP for its timely and effective support to the Cambodia 2013 Post-Floods Early Recovery Needs Assessment,” H.E. Nhim Vanda, First Vice President of the National Committee for Disaster Management, said.

Cambodia is considered one of the most hazard-prone countries in South-East Asia. The major disasters faced by the country are floods, droughts, typhoons and storms. With approximately 70 percent of the population living in the rural areas and dependent on subsistence agriculture, natural disasters can have devastating consequences on the livelihoods of the majority of Cambodians.

In Siem Reap province, the 2013 floods damaged nearly 300 kilometres of rural roads. Of these, 140 kilometres, or 46 percent of the entire damaged stretch, have now been rehabilitated thanks to the interventions funded by the World Bank, the government of Australia through the Asian Development Bank, and the government of South Korea.

In Kork Thnang village, Siem Reap province, life is a constant struggle like in other villages in the Tonle Sap flood plains. After the 2013 floods completely wiped out her rice crop, Ms. Gnugn Doeun, 36, was forced to migrate with her husband to work in construction far away from home, leaving her four children behind for her parents to look after. It was their temporary measure to earn the much needed income to support their family.

Since the road through her village has been restored, she now finds it easier to travel to work in her rice field, whereas her husband can safely commute to work in neighboring villages to earn income support family.

“Now that the road is recovered, I can easily travel to town. Both my family and the other villagers are very happy,” Ms. Gnugn Doeun said.

So is happy Mr. Chan Morn, the 80-year-old man, who said he and his family are now able to pay a more regular visit to the district hospital – thanks to the post-flood reconstruction projects. 

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