ADB, Cambodia to Step Up Drought, Flood Mitigation in Lower Mekong Basin

A stronger system of managing risks in Cambodia will contribute to regional defenses through the Greater Mekong Subregion.

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will help vulnerable communities in Cambodia raise their ability to respond to and cope with natural disasters by providing a $35 million loan to manage risks stemming from extreme floods and droughts.

“Disaster responses are often reactive and uncoordinated, so the goal of this project is to develop a stronger system of managing risks from the national level down to the vulnerable communities themselves, which will contribute to regional defenses through the Greater Mekong Subregion,” said Su Chin Teoh, Natural Resources Specialist in ADB’s Southeast Asia department.

The Cambodia project includes upgrades to irrigation systems and other infrastructure, a strengthened national flood forecasting center, and training and support to farmers for community-based disaster risk management. The loan complements similar projects recently approved in Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Viet Nam.

Loan and grant financing of $9.8 million will come from the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience, part of the Climate Investment Funds. In addition to supporting the project’s structural works, the financing will also boost risk management capabilities as well as coordination amongst government agencies and affected communities, including the set up of an early flood and drought warning system.

The Mekong River is one of the 20 largest in the world and its lower basin is home to about 60 million people. Seasonal overflows are essential for agriculture, fisheries and biodiversity, but rising sea levels, saline intrusion into valuable agriculture lands, and increasingly intense floods and droughts are expected to increase as climate change quickens.

The infrastructure improvements will include upgraded irrigation systems, and flood control and management structures on key rivers in Pursat province to increase flood protection for Pursat town. Guidance on crop diversification will be given to farmers to help them adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Improved drought management and irrigation structures are expected to benefit farmers on about 16,000 hectares of land, while at least 10,000 people will gain from stronger flood management. The Cambodian project, which will run for six years through to March 2019, also incorporates a gender action plan to ensure women are active participants in the community-based disaster risk management activities and in the provision of labor for civil works.