Cambodia

Cambodia: Situation update 23 Aug 2002

Format
Situation Report
Source
Posted
Originally published


Highlights:

  • The Royal Government of Cambodia has formally issued a declaration on the Disaster Situation in 2002. This was signed by the Prime Minister on August 23. It is awaiting finalization of an accompanying table outlining damages, needs, what has been provided to date by the RGC, and expected unmet needs before being distributed to the international community. To assist in this compilation international organizations and NGOs have been asked to quantify the relief and emergency assistance they have provided thus far this year;

  • Given high water levels in countries upstream, there is concern over possible serious flood damage in Cambodia over the coming weeks;

  • Depending on the possibilities for planting short term rice and subsidiary crops, there is concern over severe food shortages for the most vulnerable population groups next year;

  • Currently, the most pressing needs are for rice seedlings to be able to take advantage of planting possibilities over the next two weeks, and short maturing rice seeds. The Ministry of Agriculture has put forward a requirement of 5,000 mt of seeds;

  • During visits to some flood affected areas it appears that some people are better prepared for the floods this year than last. For example, in Kratie families evacuated to safe areas have been able to bring their livestock, plastic sheeting, and some food with them. However, depending on the volume, duration, and severity of the inundations, support would be required for food and medicines.

NCDM has indicated that food distributions to those in the safe areas this year will be targeted to those most in need.

The present situation

Meteorological conditions

1. El Nino conditions continued to develop in the equatorial Pacific in May as ocean surface temperatures rose -- one degree centigrade above average by late May (the United States National Oceanographic and Atmosphere Administration - NOAA).

2. According to meteorology reports, the El Nino weather pattern broke up the monsoon clouds over Cambodia and may cause the current severe drought in provinces (refer to the Cambodian Daily dated 30th July 2002).

3. In Phnom Penh, 2002 rainfall is 57% of the average rainfall between 1985 and 2001 to end of July. Rainfall in July 2002 is 89.5 millimeters, which is the least in observed rainfall during the period from 1985-2001 (see the table 3 in this report).

4. On the other hand, large parts of South Asia and low-lying regions in Thailand, Vietnam and China have been devastated by monsoon flooding, and this trend is predicted to continue.

5. According to precipitation forecasts from the National Center for Environmental Prediction <http://grads.iges.org/pix/prec6.html>, 80-125 millimeters rainfall will arrive in the northern and southern parts of Thailand, the central part Vietnam and the southern part of Laos in the next five days. The above-mentioned areas will have 150-200% of normal precipitation during the ten days period from 22 August to 1 September 2002, while it is predicted that southern Cambodia will have only 50-75% of normal precipitation during the period.

Flood situation

The Mekong River reached 30-year highs in Thailand on 19 August 2002. The water levels in Laos PDR also went over danger levels at a number of locations and Cambodia is expected to feel the effects of this in three or four days time.

The water levels at 4 monitoring stations in Cambodia have been rising since early August, according to MRC web site <www.mrcmekong.org>. Continued increases in water levels at all monitoring stations in Cambodia are forecasted over the following week. The water level at Neak Luong will exceed the alarm level in the next several days.

In Kampong Cham province, in which the water level has exceeded the alarm stage set by MRC, police and residents have been throwing sandbags along the banks of the Mekong River. It is reported that 3,568 families have been displaced due to the flooded water in Kratie province which is located in the north of Kampong Cham province.

Table 1. Water Levels at 4 Monitoring Stations in Cambodia

Station name
Flooding level (m)
1-August (m)
% of Increases from 1-15 Aug
15-August (m)
% of Increases from 15-22 Aug
22-August (m)
StungTreng
12.00
9.13
1.6%
9.28
23.9%
11.50
Kampong Cham
16.20
13.19
5.1%
13.87
12.9%
15.67
Phnom Penh (Bassac)
12.00
8.02
6.6%
8.55
14.9%
9.83
Neak Luong
8.00
5.78
7.1%
6.19
18.6%
7.34

Table 2. Water Levels' Record in 1996, 2000, 2001 and 2002 (as of 22-August 2002)

Flooding level (m)
Highest level
in '96
Date
Highest level
in '00
Date
Highest level
in '01
Date
Highest level
in '02
Date
StungTreng
12.00
12.19
23-Sep
11.49
16-Sep
11.96
20-Aug
11.50
22-Aug
Kampong Cham
16.20
16.11
29-Sep
15.91
18-Sep
16.09
22-Aug
15.67
22-Aug
Phnom Penh (Bassac)
12.00
10.94
02-Oct
11.19
20-Sep
10.75
19-Sep
9.83
22-Aug
Neak Luong
8.00
-
-
8.12
20-Sep
7.84
26-Aug
7.34
22-Aug

Drought situation

1. Little rain has been a serious national concern since early June. On 17 August the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) reported that throughout Cambodia, 55 districts consisting of 551 communes (or one third of the 1,601 communes in the country) have been affected by drought this year.

2. Though some of the drought affected provinces are now experiencing heavy rains, the provinces of Kampong Speu, Takeo, Kandal, Prey Veng, Kampong Chhnang, and Kampot are "severely affected by drought with little crop growing", according to NCDM.

3. Crops grown on much of the cultivated land along the national roads No.2 and No. 3 in the provinces of Kandal, Takeo, Kampot, and Kampong Speu have dried up because of lack of rain. All along these national roads, parched seedlings can be seen in patches. In these areas, richer farmers reportedly pump water from muddy canals in an attempt to irrigate.

4. Of the 2,167,000 hectares land planned for crop production in the year 2002 only 32%, equivalent to 693,529 hectares, have been cultivated up to 14 August 2002. Overall, farming activities in the period 8-20 August were slightly better than the situation of the two previous weeks. However, in the last two week period only 150,000 ha of rice was planted, which is 50% of the desired level. Mr. Yagyash Gautam, Chief Technical Advisor of FAO <E-mail: FAO-KH@fao.org>, estimates that rice (re)planting progress in the two-week period from now will have to be 280,000-300,000 hectares in order to reach the desired level of planting in wet season (around 1.9 million hectares). This may not be possible.

5. Many farmers have already suffered from bad crops for two consecutive years due to floods. What is worse, for 2002 the dry-season crop was extremely bad because of a lack of water. The absence of rain has resulted in most farmers eating their seeds, with the result that they have little if anything left to plant.

6. The price of rice has risen in recent months. According to an article in the Cambodia Daily (Aug 23), the price of rice in Neak Leung town in Prey Veng province is selling for $210 to $220 a ton whereas during last year's harvest the price was only $140 a ton. Similarly, rice in Battambang is up to $240 to $250/mt, up $50 to $70 from last year.

Table 3. Precipitation Data in Phnom Penh 1985-2002 (millimeter)

1992
1993
1994
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
Monthly Mean
1985 to 2001
2002
Jan
3.1
0.4
14.9
45.1
8.1
74.4
10.306
Feb
2.5
26.1
23.3
8.3
5.218
Mar
0.6
164.2
5.2
7.4
18.9
52
211.5
38.647
4.4
Apr
35
61.1
112.2
20
74.2
165.2
190.8
55
72.894
20.3
May
93.4
47.5
157.7
173
107.6
25.2
119.5
223.8
81.7
119.718
78.8
Jun
113.9
55.1
106.1
146.2
135
225.9
159.3
240.3
125.1
138.247
126.9
Jul
219.5
170.1
96.5
99.8
213.4
217.2
193
233.4
122.4
172.454
89.5
Aug
198.4
312.2
154.3
150.3
119.8
180
185.2
146.2
228.8
181.612
Sep
216.5
174.1
332.9
343.3
337.6
247.6
281
123.7
254.2
287.324
Oct
197.2
203.1
126.9
213.3
337.5
219.4
183.5
443.5
400.1
241.135
Nov
10.9
155.4
5.6
345.8
89.8
269.7
148.6
124.7
42
126.147
Dec
3.8
3.2
17.9
14.3
6
25.1
60.3
301.1
9.2
28.147
Jan-Jul
468
272.7
586
551.3
509.5
542.5
724.3
956.7
670.1
557.484
319.9
Jan-Dec
1,095
1121
1224
1,618
1,400
1,484
1,583
2,096
1,604
1,421.848
Information source: Agriculture Quality Improvement Project (AQIP)

Damage situation

Damage on wet-season rice planting has been reported by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (as of 21 August 2002):

  • Estimated areas available for wet-season rice: Approx. 2 million ha
  • Total Planted Areas: 776,050 ha
  • Affected by Drought: 189,767 ha (24.4% of planted areas)
  • Lost due to Drought: 56,876 ha (7.3% of planted areas)
  • Damage caused by Drought: 246,643 ha (31.7% of planted areas)
  • Affected by Flood: 2,155 ha (0.27% of planted areas)
  • Lost due to Flood: 576 ha (0.074% of planted areas)
  • Damage caused by Drought: 2,731 ha (0.35% of planted areas)

In Kampong Speu province, which is one of the most severely drought-affected provinces, LWF staff reported on 15 August that 41 people from 17 families were poisoned from eating incorrectly prepared manioc bulbs (due to lack of water for soaking). Traditionally, people only eat manioc bulbs from the forests when they have no rice in stock.

To date, six deaths have been reported, of which the majority have been children who drowned.

National Response

Physical Response

1. To date the government has provided the following assistance to victims of natural disasters:

  • 1,900 mt of rice (of which 20% is destined for free distribution) -- this includes 400 mt of rice provided by their Majesties the King and Queen, 200 mt of which will be channeled through NCDM and 200 mt through the CRC. To date 1,000 mt of this food has been distributed primarily to the drought affected.

  • 1 mn liters of gasoline

  • 50,000 -- 60,000 sandbags

  • The Ministry of Agriculture has provided 3,000 mt of rice seed, of which 2,000 mt was given by FAO (400 mt of this commitment is still under purchase). The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) report of 19 August indicates that 1,600 tons of these rice seeds have already been distributed to 11 provinces. MAFF plans to distribute the remaining seeds in Kampong Cham, Siem Reap and Kampong Speu provinces.

2. NCDM convened the second coordination meeting on disaster situation and information sharing on 20 August 2002. Participants included line ministries, provincial representatives, UN Disaster Management Team (UNDMT), ECHO, IFRC, international organizations and non-governmental organizations.

3. NCDM conducted a joint damage and needs assessment of the flood situation in Stueng Treng and Kratie provinces on 22 August 2002. WFP (which also participated on behalf of the UN-DMT), Unicef and IFRC participated in this assessment.

4. The Cambodian Red Cross (CRC) has identified 3,499 families as beneficiaries of initial humanitarian assistance. These families have been affected either by the current drought, the recent floods or are still recovering from the 2000/2001 floods. 74 mt of food rice, 500 food cartons, 600 household kits, some canned fish and a limited quantity of essential medicine will be distributed to the affected in 9 provinces.

Institutional Development

1. The new Royal Decree and Sub-Decree were enacted in February and April 2002 respectively, and signed by His Majesty the King and Samdech Hun Sen, Prime Ministry of the Royal Government of Cambodia. Under this Decree, the role of the NCDM has been clearly defined as the coordinating authority for disaster risk management.

2. Circular No. 1 of 2002 was signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on 7th June 2002. The Circular paves the way for a smoother implementation of the Damage and Needs Assessment systems and procedures.

3. With technical assistance from the International Institute for Disaster Risk Management (IDRM) Disaster Management Consultants who are financed by WFP and UNICEF on behalf of the UN-DMT for a period of 6-months (April-Oct. 2002), NCDM has proceeded in formulating specific guidelines for preparedness and disaster damage and needs assessment reporting. The draft of guidelines on NCDM Damage and Needs Assessment Reporting and formats of the reports have been circulated to the United Nations Disaster Management Team and a selected number of organizations and individuals in Cambodia.

International Response to date

Capacity Building of the governmental relief agencies

1. IDRM technical assistance (financed from support provided by WFP and Unicef on behalf of the UN-DMT) for NCDM institutional development is on going.

Emergency Recovery / Preparedness

1. The UN DMT has been convening regularly since the beginning of August. While WFP has prepared an agency specific Contingency Plan, a joint UN-DMT response plan is currently under preparation. It will outline each agency's specific response capacity in terms of food, seeds, warehouse and logistics, support, cash and human resources.

2. Under the Letter of Agreement signed by WFP, IFRC and CRC in May, WFP is providing approximately 150 mt of food to participants in Small-Scale Irrigation Infrastructure Rehabilitation Food-for-Work projects in Svay Rieng and Kampong Speu provinces. These resources come from the Emergency Response and Preparedness component of PRRO.

  • In Svay Rieng, 11 projects were agreed on with the Provincial Red Cross, of which 8 projects have been completed. 2 canal projects and 1 community pond project were canceled due to too much rainfall. Over 84 Mt of food were distributed to 3,342 beneficiaries of which 1,842 were female on 22 August and the remaining some 60 mt of food will be distributed to 3,355 beneficiaries on 29 August.

  • In Kampong Speu, 2 canal rehabilitation projects have been completed. 1,215 beneficiaries of which 683 were female received a total of 26Mt of food on 16 August.

In early July, WFP invited 10 Non Governmental Organizations (NGO) to submit project proposals to support vulnerable individuals in disaster-prone and food insecure communities with effective FFW interventions. 1,500 mt of food from the PRRO has been allotted for this purpose. The 2-3 month FFW projects must be implemented between1st September 2002 and 31st January 2003. 6 NGOs submitted project proposals to WFP; disaster mitigation activities to be supported range from construction of high wall ponds and open wells, to repair of village roads, rehabilitation of dams, canals and dikes, and training on safe area management. Joint Needs Assessments are on-going for an approved 32 projects, which cover 45 disaster-prone and food insecure communes in over 19 districts, in 7 provinces. Food pre-positioning and project implementation will commence shortly.

Table 4.Calendar Summary of Main Relief Events & Responses during Reporting Period

Disasters
National Response
International Response
June
-- on going
Drought
Early August
Rising Water Levels
2 August
1st Emergency Coordination Meeting Chaired by NCDM
7 August
3rd UNDMT Meeting
12 August -- On going
Joint Needs Assessment for WFP Contingency Plan/FFW Disaster Preparedness started.
15 August
Food Poisoning
16 August
Food distribution to 1,215 beneficiaries for IFRC/CRC FFW rehabilitation projects in KSP
17 August
Food distribution to 233 families including 17 families suffering from poisonous manioc consumption.
20 August
2nd Emergency Coordination Meeting Chaired by NCDM
21 August
4th UNDMT Meeting
22 August
Joint Damage and Needs Assessment in Stung Treng Food distribution to 3,342 beneficiaries for IFRC/CRC FFW rehabilitation projects in SVR
*Note: All gray-colored columns are related to the same event.

Actions to be taken:

1. Support and participate in forthcoming needs assessments

2. Closely track water levels in Laos and Cambodia

3. Consult with interested NGOs on plans to assist vulnerable communities, particularly in the longer term

4. Prepare clear guidelines for field staff on when and how to draw down on resources for emergency response and preparedness

5. Track the allocations and distributions of emergency response and preparedness resources

23 August 2002

Prepared by:

Yuki (Yukinori HIBI; Mr.)
New Graduate Programme Officer
WFP Cambodia
E-mail: yukinori.hibi@wfp.org/Mobile: 012 723 675