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Friday, September 12, 2014

One step ahead; working with the community to mitigate the effects of flooding



Flooding during the rainy season in the months of September and October is common in Cambodia. In 2011 and 2013, the flooding was particularly severe and damaging; thanks to the generous support of donors, JWOC was able to provide emergency relief to villages in the communities that JWOC serves in Siem Reap Province.

In 2013, Cambodia experienced severe flooding with a death toll over 100 and over 60,000 people having to leave their homes. There was great concern over disease outbreak from water-borne diseases due to a lack of sanitation and hygiene in these extreme living circumstances. The flooding seriously affected nearly all of Cambodia including Siem Reap Province, and many of the communities JWOC serves. The flooding damaged homes, crops and caused harm to roads and infrastructure.

The risk of water related and mosquito-borne diseases, such as Dengue Fever, increases during flooding. As well as the large concern over the risk of disease there is also recovery to consider with clean up and repairs to roads and houses needed. Many families lose their crops as their rice fields and poultry are destroyed by the flooding, a source of both income and food for impoverished families. The longer-impact of the flooding is fear for food security with concerns over food shortages.

JWOC’s Community, Liaison and Assistance program works all year round to address these issues. This year we made some changes to improve our preparedness and response to the high waters that occur each year.

To develop an emergency preparedness plan, we started by collecting data to find out what villagers did to help themselves before and during the floods. We found that the knowledge that the floods come each year isn’t enough for families to take preventive measures. In the squatters villages surrounding JWOC the root causes of flooding are not easily addressed -- these villages have poor irrigation systems, and uneven land. As villagers do not own the rights to build on the land, root-cause solutions will be slow in coming.


The data we gathered demonstrated high health risks among a population where over 60% of the villagers live below the poverty line (between $1-3 a day). This helped us prioritize alleviation of health risks in our emergency preparedness plan.


This week, JWOC will run an emergency preparedness pilot training effort to prepare villagers before the floods. We will work in collaboration with the Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) to conduct Health Care training focusing on basic hygiene, safe drinking and disease prevention to 60 beneficiaries from Teaksen Tbong Village.

We will offer villagers the opportunity to purchase emergency kits consisting of mosquito nets, soap and water filters. The cost for JWOC to purchase these items and field this pilot is $2090

JWOC does not want to create dependency that may occur by simply giving items away, so this year we will offer these emergency items at a subsidized price. JWOC will sell the items to the communities at a 60% discount, with a further reduction if purchased as a set ($7.50 per set). The money from these items will help defray the emergency kit cost and go straight back in our Community, Liaison and Assistance program fund which works all year round to make sure we prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies like flooding.

We'll begin our pilot to 60 people, depending on the response to the pilot and what we learn, we aim to train other villagers (there are 250+ families left in the pilot village and around 300 families at two other villages who we hope train). Though to proceed with further training and emergency preparedness supply distribution, we require support from donors.

In addition to providing a donation now in support of our emergency preparedness efforts, please consider becoming a subscription donor where you can provide a monthly amount in support of our Community Liaison and Assistance Program. To make a donation please click here.


Thank you for supporting us in our mission to strengthen our Emergency Preparedness, Recovery and Response practices.

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