WMO experts conducted a mission to Chirou Ti Muoy commune, Cambodia, in May to collect information with local partners on community experience of current early warning systems and preparedness measures for floods in order to develop improvements to both. These improvements will be designed with the National Meteorological and Hydrological Service (NMHS) and disaster management authorities through the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) Cambodia and Lao PDR project.
The commune chief and community members told them about flooding events that have been occurring with increased frequency and intensity. They also described the major impacts on households, infrastructure and livelihoods in the community, especially in the low-lying areas. The chief highlighted several challenges, including the loss of land due to erosion of the Mekong River banks, degradation of the drinking water supply, increases in water-related diseases, and damages to infrastructures and agricultural due to inundation. The warnings the community receives do not arrive with sufficient lead-time to put preparedness and response measures in place.
The information provided by the community will be complemented by their responses to a questionnaire and the observations from Mr Senghour Han, Vice Director of Nak Akphivath Sahakum, a local NGO working in the area of disaster preparedness, development and livelihood strengthening projects. With these, work will begin on developing and implementing a better community-based flood management system. A number of potential solutions and areas for improvement were discussed with the community during the mission. These included training more volunteers from the commune to disseminate warnings effectively, providing sandbags to reduce erosion of the Mekong’s bank, providing boat engines for timely evacuation of vulnerable individuals during flooding events, and ensuring evacuation sites are adequate and sheltered.
The CREWS team will continue to work with the Chirou Ti Muoy commune to provide flood management support. Two additional communities in Cambodia will also be identified where these efforts can be replicated and scaled up.