Lack of historical disaster data a thing of the past for Cambodia

Source(s): United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

By Kelsea Clingeleffer

In Phnom Penh, a consultative workshop on Data Reporting for Monitoring Indicators of Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction in Cambodia has brought together ministries for a more data-ready future.

More than 60 participants from key line ministries -- including from the National Committee for Disaster Management; Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; Ministry of Public Works and Transport; and the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology as well as provincial counterparts -- attended to develop a greater understanding of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030) and how the framework aligns with a recent update of the Cambodia Disaster Loss and Damage Information System (known as ‘CAMDI’).

“In order support to disaster risk reduction planning and build resilience against disasters, especially for human life, infrastructure, and agricultural productivities, all data from disaster effects and damages must be recorded and analyzed,” said His Excellency Lam Leng Huot, Deputy Vice President and Secretary-General of the National Committee for Disaster Management in his opening remarks.

The CAMDI database was first developed in 2015 under the National Committee for Disaster Management with support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). A total of 7,800 records of disaster events from 1996 to 2013 were input into the database, allowing an overarching view of disasters across almost 20 years.

However, there were challenges in keeping this data updated and so in 2019, UNDP endeavored to improve the relevancy and accuracy of the data to allow effective disaster management and risk reduction.

Mr. Sophal Sam, the Disaster Damage and Loss Database Consultant behind the update, described the importance of having this information. “Historical data is important because it provides a better analysis of trends in disaster loss and impacts. We want to see where disasters used to happen and whether it happened again, whether damage is the same or whether it not. By using these trends, we can make plans to prepare and reduce disaster loss and damage in those places.”

Mr. Chhum Sovanny, UNDP Project Analyst, described one of the key objectives of the workshop – the aligning of the database within a global framework. “The update will allow CAMDI to be in line with the Sendai Framework. This initiative is part of the UNDP regional project on the Global Center for Disaster Statistics (GCSD), in cooperation with Fujitsu and Tohoku University in Japan.”

“The global database support provided by UNDP and GCDS ensures that disaster management authorities at the country-level are equipped with readiness to record local level disasters and use the data for Sendai reporting and monitoring. This is part of UNDP's commitment to strengthen capacities for disaster statistics in the country, and help governments move along the path of greater digitalization,” said Mr. Rajesh Sharma, UNDP Global Disaster Risk Information Specialist.

Consistent with the Sendai Framework, CAMDI data should be able to be disaggregated by hazard, sex, age, disability, income, and geography, which will ensure that vulnerable groups can be easily identified and targeted.

The workshop provided an opportunity for discussion on who would be responsible for, and the processes of, ensuring that data are updated in the future.

The CAMDI database will also align with Cambodia’s Disaster Risk Reduction Framework (2019-2030) and National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction (2019-2025), which states that one of its priorities is the establishment of a National Disaster Management Information System (DMIS). Having accurate information is a crucial component of this, making CAMDI an integral part of Cambodia’s disaster management future.

The work is also part of the UNDP-supported ‘Strengthening Climate Information and Early Warning Systems in Cambodia’ project, funded by the GEF-Least Developed Countries Fund.

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