OCHA Situation Report No. 2
Cambodia - Floods and Drought
25 September 2002
This report is based on information provided by the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Cambodia, the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), the Mekong River Commission, the Red Cross, NGO and media reports.
Situation and Damage
1. Water levels in the Mekong River started rising on 11 July due to heavy rainfall at the border with Laos. Two peaks in water levels have been recorded so far. The floods have affected above all the provinces of Stung Treng, Kratie, Kampong Cham, Kandal, and Prey Veng. Two districts in Takeo, three in Prey Veng, and two in Kandal are still flooded. According to the Mekong River Commission, water levels still exceed alarm stages in the lower reaches of the river, between Phnom Penh and the border with Viet Nam, and are expected to rise and exceed alarm stages at Pakse, Kampong Cham and Phnom Penh gauging stations in the coming days.
2. Disaster management officials report that over 1,470,000 people in 365 communes - of a total of 1,621 communes - were affected and that 29 people lost their lives due to the floods. The International Federation of the Red Cross on 30 August estimated that 16,341 families had moved to higher ground. According to the NCDM, most of them have returned to their homes. Over 470,000 people now face food shortages.
3. Simultaneously, a prolonged drought due to unusually dry weather during the rainy season is affecting 551 communes, in particular in Kampong Speu, Takeo, Prey Veng provinces in the south and Odar Meanchey province in the northwest of the country. The drought started as early as January 2002 in some places and by the end of July had spread to all 24 provinces, with the provinces of Kampong Speu, Takeo, Kampot, and Kampong Chhnang hardest-hit. Some of the most-affected districts were in other provinces, namely Banteay Meanchey, Pursat, Prey Veng and Battambang provinces. NCDM officials in early August described the drought as the worst in two decades. The drought prevailed until the onset of rains in mid-August, but in 50 communes in Kampong Speu, Takeo, Prey Veng, and Kandal provinces, rainfall has been insufficient to start planting.
4. As a result of the drought, farmers have not been able to plant wet season rice, or transplanted seedlings were damaged. Crop production has been significantly affected, especially in Prey Veng and Kampong Speu provinces. Subsidiary crops were also heavily damaged. Up to 19 September, only 1,237,604 hectares of rice have been planted in Cambodia, out of a normal 1,929,000 hectares (i.e. 64%). It is anticipated that this percentage could reach 80% (1.6 million hectares) over the coming weeks.
5. According to Government estimates, over 650,000 people are facing food shortages due to the drought. Populations in affected areas are highly vulnerable, as they have been affected by natural disasters for the third year in a row.
National and International Response
6. The effects of the persistent drought and the flooding in the provinces along the Mekong River on the population led the Government to issue a declaration on the disaster situation and appeal for international assistance on 23 August 2002.
7. The NCDM is working closely with concerned government institutions and UN agencies and has played a key role in coordinating the response. The UN Disaster Management Team (UNDMT) is closely monitoring the situation.
8. The local authorities, the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC) and NGOs have helped people in flood-affected areas move to higher ground and distributed assistance to people in both flood- and drought-affected areas.
9. FAO has provided 3,000 metric tons of rice seeds to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries (MAFF).
10. According to the latest UNDMT estimates, an additional 1,300 metric tons of rice seeds are needed in order to reach a satisfactory level of crop production in Cambodia, especially in those areas that have been most severely affected. Based on current estimates from the MAFF, the need for rice seeds is particularly important in the provinces of Prey Veng, Takeo, Svay Rieng, Kandal and Kampong Cham. The planting season comes to an end in mid-October.
11. A complete update on the situation, based on a joint Government, UN, donor, Red Cross and NGO damage and needs' assessments at provincial level, is expected by the end of the week. It will include additional data on seed requirements.
12. OCHA is prepared to serve as a channel for cash contributions to be used for immediate relief assistance, in coordination/consultation with relevant organizations in the United Nations system. For banking details please contact the Desk Officers indicated below. OCHA provides donors with written confirmation and pertinent details concerning the utilization of the funds contributed.
13. For coordination purposes, donors are requested to inform OCHA Geneva, as indicated below, on relief missions/pledges/contributions and their corresponding values by item.
14. OCHA is in close contact with the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Cambodia.
15. This situation report, together with further information on ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at http://www.reliefweb.int
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