Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, in behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen for participating in this workshop to share the experiences on the management of disaster of drought and flood in the year 2002. The workshop has helped all of us to prepare for and deal with disasters that may strike our people in the future. This workshop has also served as an opportunity for all involved to learn lessons from the strategies and experiences of disaster management over the past year. Therefore, this workshop has helped improve our actions plans for the future.
Let me then take this opportunity to extend my deep appreciation to the leaders and staff of the National Committee on Disaster Management, both at the National as well as the City, Provincial, District and Commune levels, as well all partners in the Government Ministries, the Cambodian Red Cross, Royal Khmer Armed Forces, the Police and security personnel for cooperating in the rescue missions during the disasters that occurred in 2002. All of the organizations and individuals worked as a large team to provide food, supplies, equipment, petroleum and temporary shelters for the flood and drought victims.
The above efforts did reduce the pain and damage caused by the disasters to the crops, rice fields, livestock and the people. The emergency aid was of great help to the affected families. We are indeed grateful to all the organizations and the individuals who participated in these missions.
I also wish to extend my appreciation to H.E NHIM VANDA, First Deputy Chairman, National Committee on Disaster Management, for reporting on and evaluating the rescue missions. These reports are necessary because they serve as useful information for the improvement of future action plans.
Let me also express my profound gratitude to the Donor countries, UN Agencies, International Organizations, International Financial Institutions, Humanitarians, Cambodian and international partners, Venerable Monks, Excellencies, civil servants and soldiers who have cooperated with the government to remedy the difficulties and suffering faced by the victims during the disasters of the past three years.
The droughts and floods that have periodically happened in the Kingdom of Cambodia have been detrimental to the well being of the people and the progress of Cambodia. We must share whatever little resources that we have obtained from various development programs to address the needs of the people who are in dire straits. The reconstruction of the damaged infrastructure and the provision of food and medical aid to the people are extremely crucial actions.
One of the major concerns of the Government is to minimize the damage caused by the natural disasters that destroy the very livelihoods of farmers and pushing them into poverty. The main objective of the government is to improve the well-being of the farmers through the expansion of the natural water catchment facilities with the cooperation of the farmer communities, so that water is reserved for timely use.
Yet another important task is to rebuild and develop the irrigation system in labor-intensive ways. The affected people can work in these projects that improve the existing irrigation structures. The scheme adopted here can be the “food for work” scheme. Not only will the farmers and their families who work in these projects receive the rice supplement but this strategy can also minimize the sudden movement of people in search of jobs from the rural to the urban areas.
Along with humanitarian efforts, disaster management strategies are also important to analyze and plan actions with regard to the prevention and reduction of damages. Relief missions must reach beyond the mere alleviation of problems. In the process of analysis by the various stakeholders, we will generate valuable learnings for the capacity building for the partners, which will become important assets in times of future need.
Cambodia is not the only country that faces the effects of erratic climate. Advanced countries that have sufficient equipment also experiencing great damages. Therefore the more significant aspect of disaster management is the efficient implementation of strategies. I sincerely hope that all agencies working on these missions remember this principle. May I also take this opportunity to provide some recommendations, as follows:
First: the disaster management committee must act even before disasters strike. This is being prepared. Moreover, the national committee for disaster management must pay attention to improving its cooperation with all partners to enhance the quality of data gathering so that proper information is readily available for quick action by the Government and all partners.
Second, all Government ministries and other organizations involved in rescue operations must deepen cooperation with the National Committee on Disaster Management in order to anticipate the dangers caused by natural disasters. Such forecasting can be transformed into effective action for farmers to plan their cultivation. Once again I would stress the teamwork among all concerned is absolutely required.
Third, the current emergency intervention teams have to strengthen their skills through regular training. I recommend that the rescue teams be organized into 3 groups: transportation team, temporary shelter team, and emergency team. This will ensure greater competency in the work of the teams.
Fourth, floods and droughts affect not only the crops and humans but also harm the livestock, especially cows and buffaloes that are vital for the farmers. Therefore, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery should provide the training on animal husbandry to farmers and provide veterinary services at the commune and village levels to monitor and mitigate animal diseases.
Finally, the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology and other concerned institutions have to disseminate both the short and long term weather forecasts to the rescue operations teams as well as the general public on the areas that could be possibly affected by droughts and floods. With such information, people will be more prepared to handle the emergency situations, emotionally and physically. Being prepared, they will be better equipped to manage their farms and reduce any damage.
Before concluding, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to Ouknha Kith Meng, Kong Trive, Eong Bun Hov, Lao Meng Khin, Men Sarun for financing the building of temporary shelters for flood victims in 2002. Let me also thank Ouknha Sok Kong for donating 500 tons of rice to the Royal Government of Cambodia in 2002.
Let us all thank the World Food Organization for its significant contribution to the strengthening of the National Committee on Disaster Management. We call on the UN system and all partners to continue their assistance for the vital and humanitarian work of the National Committee on Disaster Management. Once again, let me thank all of you for your help to the victims of the disasters in the past three years.
In conclusion, I would like to extend my best wishes, according to the five gems of Buddhist doctrine, to Your Excellencies, all guests, ladies and gentlemen for participating in this workshop. I am delighted to announce the closing of the National Workshop on Disaster Management Monitoring!