Church agencies assist Cambodians after floods and monsoon

By agency reporter
October 27, 2013

A month of monsoon rains and flash floods in Cambodia has claimed 168 lives and left over a hundred thousand people homeless across 20 of the country’s 24 provinces, including parts of the capital, Phnom Penh.

More than 1.5 million people in total are affected by flood damage to houses, schools, health centres, roads and bridges as well as farmland.

Christian Aid and Dan Church Aid partner Development and Partnership in Action (DPA) has distributed food, hygiene kits and tarpaulin shelters to more than 3,000 people in Ratanakiri Province, in the north east of the country.

Some 80 per cent of Cambodia’s 13.8 million population live in rural areas, where most are completely dependent on subsistence agriculture for survival. 244,000 hectares of rice fields have been destroyed by the flooding, leading to fears of food shortages.

An appeal has been launched by the ACT Alliance, of which Christian Aid and Dan Church Aid are members. Some £115,000 has been given by Dan Church Aid to provide jerry cans, water purification tablets and soap to reduce the likelihood of life-threatening waterborne diseases and will also fund cash grants to enable farmers to purchase seeds and fertilizer, or meet loan repayments.

Kristen Rasmussen, Programme Coordinator from DCA said: "Cambodia has to cope with annual monsoon rains and it is the poor communities which are affected the most.

"After the water levels recede it is the poor farmers and landless migrant workers who will suffer. Cambodians are highly vulnerable to disasters, as many as a quarter of them live below the poverty line relying on one agricultural harvest per year. So when the harvest is lost the impact is severe. Many are likely to go into debt to cope with the loss of income.

"Severely flooded areas are now threatened by waterborne diseases, such as dengue fever and diarrhoea. In a country with high malnutrition rates, where almost 40 per cent of children are chronically malnourished, these treatable diseases can be fatal, especially for the elderly and young.

"We are assessing longer term needs and are purchasing seeds and other agricultural material as well as offering cash grants to vulnerable families. Our experience in the country shows that cash grants work well, especially when distributed to female family members who ensure the money is spent helping the family get back on its feet", she added.

The emergency aid will be used to help the most vulnerable; extremely poor families including female headed households, widows, migrant landless farmers, people living with HIV and the elderly.

Christian Aid and Dan Church Aid are continuing their work to make vulnerable communities more resilient to natural disasters by working with local authorities and communities to improve early warning and evacuation systems, build stronger houses and store crops safely so lives and livelihoods can be saved.


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