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Strengthening Community Resilience to flood and drought in Cambodia

This review exercise has been undertaken to provide an overview of existing community-based disaster risk reduction (CBDRR) initiatives and to assist in identifying gaps and emerging areas for development in community based disaster risk reduction and management in Cambodia.
Photo by Bunsim San on Unsplash
Kampong Speu Province, Cambodia. Photo by Bunsim San on Unsplash

Introduction

This review exercise has been undertaken to provide an overview of existing community-based disaster risk reduction (CBDRR) initiatives and to assist in identifying gaps and emerging areas for development in community based disaster risk reduction and management in Cambodia.

Lessons Learnt

INSTITUTIONALIZATION OF CBDRM Despite the number of capacity building activities being implemented throughout the country, many NGOs point out that the present leadership and participation from the CDMs at all levels still fall short. To fill in the gap in governance, there should be sustained capacity-building and development of new strategies and activities. Skill sets for CBDRM have to be well-thought out. Aside from technical skills, village leaders and local government officials have to learn basic project operations and management. Experiences from implementation show that building the capacity of local leaders and government structures in CBDRM do not guarantee transfer of knowledge and capacity to communities. To be successful, institutional capacity-building has to be holistic in its approach and should consider the level of resources and limitations faced by implementing institutions to deliver CBDRM. For instance, the NCDM does not have enough staff and budget to coordinate and implement its activities. It is more realistic and practical to link the community-based initiatives to district and provincial levels while strengthening the national structures. The NCDM needs to be strengthened as an institution so that it can lead in CBDRM activities on the ground. It has to have the capacity to consistently manage and hold accountable its counterparts at the local level. Staffing at the Secretariat needs to be reinforced and NCDMs’ access to national support for budget allocation for its activites and plans needs to be improved. THE ROLE OF THE NGOS IN CBDRM Non-government organizations have been at the forefront of organizing CDMS and field service delivery for CBDRM. Despite their primarily role in CBDRM, NGOs face challenges in sustaining their efforts. First, community ownership has to be made an integral part of their participatory goals and to foster this ownership, NGOs need to present clear and transparent exit strategies during the entry phase. Second, there is an observed lack of coordination among NGOs working in the field. This is evident in the geographical and programmatic distribution of CBDRM programs, with some areas overly subscribed and some with hardly any NGO presence or CBDRM activity. To maximize human and financial resources, cambodia there should a regular forum where NGOs can discuss and share their interventions, as well as their coverage areas. This is to minimize duplication of efforts among project partners and participating local communities. Sharing of key technical and social expertise on health, sanitation, and management is also a positive way to harmonize to the extent possible efforts and resources. To analyze the impact of the various programs and projects implemented throughout the years, a comprehensive impact assessment can be organized jointly with organizations working in the same fields, as such assessment will provide insight into the effectiveness and relevance of past and current efforts, and lead the development of new resources and strategies for CBDRM. The assessment will identify urgent areas for intervention and the appropriate actions – legislative, political, institutional and economic – to mainstream CBDRM.

NGOs will continue its leadership role in disaster management in the country. In doing this, a scaling up approach is called for. An emerging approach is the multi-hazard approach and this is projected to be the direction of future CBDRM projects. To maximize resources, they have to work with national and local structures to deliver CBDRM activities in the field. In a context of diminishing funding sources, NGOs have to mobilize new and local resources.

CAPACITATING AND EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES The overall involvement of communities in CBDRM is the cornerstone of strategy to empower and capacitate communities in the face of natural disasters. This has to be integrated during project set-up by conducting social preparation activities during the inception phase. Efforts have to be supported by community social acceptance, thorough identification and disaggregation of data on stakeholders, and formal mandate and sustainable resource allocation.

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