Opening Remarks at the Regional Conference on Community-based Disaster Risk Management and Adaptation - Samiuela Tukuafu | Asian Development Bank

Opening Remarks at the Regional Conference on Community-based Disaster Risk Management and Adaptation - Samiuela Tukuafu

Speech | 3 October 2017

Opening remarks by ADB Cambodia Resident Mission Country Director Samiuela Tukuafu at the Regional Conference on Community-based Disaster Risk Management and Adaptation held 3-4 October 2017 at the Apsara Resorts Hotel, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

H.E. Bun Hean, Secretary of State, Ministry of Water Resources and Management

H.E. Dr. Sabo Ojano, Secretary of State, Ministry of Environment and Coordinator of the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience in Cambodia

Excellencies, Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Good morning!

On behalf of the Asian Development Bank, I am pleased to welcome all of you to this Regional Conference on Community-based Disaster Risk Management and Adaptation. I would like to thank their Excellencies and the team from the Royal Government of Cambodia for hosting us in historic Siem Reap. I am also delighted to welcome participants and speakers from the region and beyond, especially our delegates from Zambia who are here to participate through a South-South Exchange Program of the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience.

Natural disasters are increasing worldwide. Floods; droughts; typhoons; and other natural hazards continue to wreak havoc in poor and vulnerable communities, causing tens of thousands of deaths, damage to infrastructure; and billions of dollars in economic loss, globally each year. In Asia and the Pacific, 1.8 million natural hazard-related deaths have been recorded. This is equivalent to 51% of the global total, from 1970 to 2012. Over the same period, direct physical losses were reported almost US$1.5 trillion. A recent analysis from an ADB study indicates that direct physical losses from disasters are far higher than the region’s share in global gross domestic product.

Disasters can result in detrimental impacts to local communities, undermining social and economic gains. Across local communities, the most poor and vulnerable are especially at risk, and are more likely to suffer due to disasters leading to loss of lives, homes, productive assets, and livelihoods. Climate change is a key driver in inducing the severity and frequency of disasters.

Cambodia is highly vulnerable to climate change. Such high vulnerability is not only due to the significant dependence of its economy on climate sensitive sectors like agriculture and water resources, but also due to low adaptive capacity of its communities and ecosystems. By 2050, it is projected that annual daily maximum temperatures will rise by 2°C to 4°C with higher increases during the dry season; and that higher incidences of rainfall will be more frequent, particularly during the already wet rainy season. Enhancing the climate resilience of Cambodia’s economy is therefore critical, and implementing community-level measures to strengthen disaster and climate resilience is vital for achieving inclusive and sustainable development. 

Cambodia was selected for the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience, which aims to demonstrate measures to integrate climate risk and resilience into development planning. In 2011, the Government of Cambodia with support from the ADB prepared the Strategic Program for Climate Resilience (SPCR) comprising seven investment projects in four priority sectors (agriculture, water resources, transport and urban development) and one capacity building technical assistance. The total investment in these projects is approximately $588 million.

In several of these Strategic Program for Climate Resilience investment projects, community-based disaster risk management and community-based adaptation is a main component. This can be attributed to the fact that ADB, and development partners;
together with the Royal Government of Cambodia recognize their importance for achieving sustainability at the local level. It is essential that communities are engaged in dialogue with government and civil society organizations so that the root causes of disaster risk and vulnerability to climate change are identified, necessary resources are mobilized, and priority actions are implemented. The Pilot-Program for Climate Resilience, through the ADB TA, has also provided support to strengthen the capacity of 18 Cambodian civil society organizations in implementing community-based adaptation and disaster risk reduction activities, and in mainstreaming community-based adaptation and disaster risk reduction into their operations.

The Midterm review of ADB’s Strategy 2020 stressed that ADB should do more on adaptation and disaster risk reduction and management. In 2014, ADB launched its Operational Plan for Integrated Disaster Risk Management, 2014-2020 which seeks to (i) promote an integrated disaster risk management approach in ADB’s operations, (ii) further strengthen integrated disaster risk management (IDRM) capabilities, knowledge and resources to reduce disaster risk and to respond in a timely cost efficient manner, and (iii) mobilize additional resources through public and private partnerships for Integrated disaster risk management.

To improve Cambodia’s disaster preparedness, ADB has approved technical assistance entitled "Strengthening Coordination for Management of Disasters", and a grant project entitled "Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction", through the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction. Both projects helped to establish and strengthen the policy environment for effective disaster risk management, and build the capacity of national and provincial disaster management institutions, to ensure that Cambodia has a unified strategy for disaster risk management that is mainstreamed throughout all levels of government.

Cambodia is strongly committed to address natural hazards at the community level. In 2014, a Climate Change Strategic and Action Plan for Disaster Management was adopted to strengthen the resilience capacity and coordination role of the National Committee for Disaster Management. Cambodia passed the Law on Disaster Management in July 2015, issued the Royal Decree on Organization and Functioning of the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) in December 2015 and passed a Resolution on Appointment of the Members of the National Committee for Disaster Management in March 2016.

Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen

On behalf of the Asian Development Bank, I would like to express our sincere thanks to the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, and the Ministry of Environment for jointly organizing this regional conference, and various civil society organizations and development partners for their dedicated efforts and contributions towards implementing disaster risk reduction and community-based adaptation initiatives.

With the adoption of the Paris Agreement at COP21; and the localization of the Sustainable Development Goals, the ADB continues to maintain its commitment to the people of Cambodia and its developing member countries, through its various programs to enhance inclusive economic growth, poverty reduction and contribute towards efforts to prepare and manage natural disasters.

I encourage each of you to share your experiences and expertise on community-based disaster risk management and adaptation, during the next two days and continue to exchange ideas through the resulting networks at the conclusion of this conference. 

I wish you all constructive and fruitful discussions over the next two days.