Project to improve agency responsible for nat cat responses kicks off today

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has provided Cambodia with a $2 million grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, which is financed by Japanese government, to fund a project designed to help integrate disaster risk responses into national development plans.

The project, which starts today and will run until June 2016, will also develop a unified strategy for disaster risk management across different government sectors and identify training needs for Cambodia’s National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) staff.

ADB Country Director for Cambodia Eric Sidgwick said the grant would help the Cambodian government to “develop sound strategies, guidelines, standard operating procedures, and training for disaster risk management at the national and subnational level”.

Natural catastrophes cause death and displacement, damage to public infrastructure and millions of dollars in economic losses in Cambodia every year.

Disaster risk management is one aspect of Cambodia’s continued development as it prepares for the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

However, the country’s government needs to step up reforms to improve the transparency and reliability of its regulatory systems to encourage more investment, according to an analysis examining barriers to realising the AEC.

Addressing corruption and anti-competitive practices must also be a priority in Cambodia, as in many other countries, according to findings and recommendations in ASEAN Economic Community: A Work in Progress, produced by the ADB in collaboration with the Institute of Southeast Asia Studies.

“Cambodia is doing well with preparations for the AEC because it has always been an open and outward-looking economy, but it needs to catch up with the implementation of ASEAN e-customs, the National Single Window, and the ASEAN Single Window border procedures,” said Jayant Menon, a co-editor of the book and lead economist at ADB.

ASEAN’s own scorecards point to the fact that the AEC will not be realised by its self-imposed deadline of 2015, even though a lot of progress will have been made by then.

Nevertheless, agreements that have been signed before and after this date must be ratified and implemented legitimately, especially in a transition economy such as Cambodia, where monitoring of implementation of accords is often guided by little more than goodwill.

It is therefore critical that countries like Cambodia are convinced that the reforms will be in their self-interest.

Furthermore, the book states, in order to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the AEC, Cambodia needs to invest more in education and health.

Apart from directly reducing social and asset inequities, this will produce a workforce more able to actively participate in the growth process and adapt to structural changes that result directly from the AEC.

Finally, to lessen its reliance on garments, and to increase trade linkages with ASEAN countries, Cambodia will have to diversify its export commodity base. Agricultural products, tourism and modern services all represent areas of opportunity that the AEC presents.