Cambodia – Sharing Wisdom to Defeat Flood Disasters

In Cambodia, a country particularly prone to natural disasters, the European Commission is supporting communities to build up their resilience against the recurring onslaught of floods, droughts and typhoons. ActionAid and local partners are working together on disaster risk reduction in the Banteay Meanchey province through an EU-funded project entitled ‘Building disaster resilient communities’.

Sokmean practices first aid, as part of EU-funded project ‘Building disaster resilient communities’ in Cambodia. © Satya Roeurn
Sokmean practices first aid, as part of EU-funded project ‘Building disaster resilient communities’ in Cambodia. © Satya Roeurn

When it comes to being ready before disaster, Tang Ly Sokmean, 59, is in the know.

Through ActionAid’s local partner Cambodian Human Resource Development, she has recently been trained on first aid, hazard and vulnerability assessments, and democratic leadership skills.

“Now I feel more confident on how to assist people in emergencies,” she said about the first aid training. She has already treated a range of injuries such as burns and serious cuts caused by using farming equipment or cycling.

The former Red Cross volunteer lives in Tumnub Dach village in the Ou Chrov district, Banteay Meanchey province. Despite being busy with four grandchildren, Ly Sokmean is on the village leadership council and is the secretary of Tumnub Dach’s ‘women saving for change’ group.

Close to the international border, the village is frequently hit by floods. In 2013, Sokmean’s own home was flooded and she had to live in a floating houseboat for a while. However, she did receive a cash support grant from Cambodian Human Resource Development for food. She also bought 20 truckfuls of soil to dump on her land to raise it above flooding levels. There, she can now grow squash, cucumber, pumpkin, corn, papaya, bananas, mangos and more. In addition, she is also raising poultry at home to deal with the food shortage.

But she’s also been bringing in humanitarian aid and resources for other vulnerable people, acquiring first aid kits for the commune health centre and some support from the Cambodian Red Cross such as rice, noodles, salt, tents, water filters, soap, shelters, and so on.

Sokmean was able to persuade other villagers to contribute cash, equipment, materials and labour to build a 30-metre protective dam that diverts water out of the village; and she has promoted critical knowledge about hygiene and sanitation to community members before, during and after flooding.

Article by Satya Roeurn, Disaster Risk Reduction Officer, ActionAid Cambodia, for the EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO).