Cambodia has a large number of United Nations agencies, international and national non-governmental organizations (NGOs) engaged in humanitarian, rehabilitation, and development initiatives as well as disaster risk reduction and disaster management.
Under the Law on Disaster Management (2015), Article 32, if the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) cannot respond to a disaster or the extent of the disaster is greater than the response capacity of the country, NCDM shall appeal to the international community for emergency response and recovery assistance.1 NCDM can:
- Declare the acceptance of international assistance.
- Command the relevant authorities to cooperate and collaborate with donors and international response teams in the response operation.
- Authorize the utilization of international assistance to be delivered into the country under special rules, regulations, and procedures.
However, there is an absence of procedures for the effective facilitation and regulation of incoming international assistance even if civil society initiatives have been established to support a disaster response.2
Cambodia Humanitarian Forum (CHF) was founded in 2012 as part of the initiative Strengthening Humanitarian NGOs’ Emergency Response Capacity in Cambodia. This initiative was implemented by the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) and supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The leading NGO of this project is the Partnership for Development in Kampuchea (PADEK),3 a Cambodian organization working to assist disadvantaged rural communities to improve their livelihoods and quality of life. PADEK was among the first NGOs to begin working in community development in Cambodia. PADEK focuses on community-saving, livelihood enhancement and disaster resilience.
By offering knowledge resources, training and mentorship, CHF strives to improve the humanitarian response to catastrophes in Cambodia by increasing the leadership capacity of NGOs to better engage in the humanitarian framework.4
Many organizations contribute to disaster management and humanitarian assistance in Cambodia. The HRF consists of international non-government organizations (INGOs) and United Nations (UN) agencies which play a vital role in the humanitarian response since they have resources, tools, knowledge and skills. ActionAid and World Food Program (WFP) co-chair the HRF. Following severe floods in 2011, the Cambodian HRF was established to advance coordination and communication on emergency preparedness, humanitarian work and early recovery response work between the UN, INGOs and international organizations. The HRF works closely with the NCDM to facilitate a coordinated and effective approach in support of people affected by humanitarian crises.5
Table. HRF sector lead and co-lead agencies
|Sector||Lead and co-lead agencies|
|Food security and nutrition||World Food Programme, DanChurchAif|
|WASH||UNICEF, World Vision|
|Shelter||International Organization for Migration, People In Need|
|Health||World Health Organization|
|Education||UNICEF, Save the Children|
|Protection||UNICEF, Save the Children, World Vision|
The UN Disaster Management Team (UNDMT) is a mechanism for coordination, providing a forum for information exchange, discussion and seeking consensus on disaster-related initiatives. Its primary purposes include:
- Ensuring prompt, effective and concerted country-level support to the government response in the event of a disaster, at the central, national and sub-national levels.
- Coordinating UN assistance for government around long-term recovery, mitigation and preparedness.
- Coordinating all disaster-related activities, technical advice and material assistance provided by UN agencies as well as taking steps for optimal utilization of resources by UN agencies.6
UNDMT is composed of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and WFP. UNDMT is co-chaired by WFP and the Resident Coordinator’s (RC) office.7
Many international organizations are working on disaster risk reduction and disaster management in Cambodia. They include Save the Children, Oxfam, Action Aid, ACTED, AVSF, Caritas, DanChurchAid, Habitat for Humanity, KHANA, Life with Dignity, Muslim Aid, World Vision Cambodia, People in Need (PIN), Caritas, Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE), PLAN International and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). These organisations coordinate relevant activities and share information, knowledge and skills as well as experience.
Many international organizations in Cambodia are members of JAG, a network of NGOs involved in disaster management that works to reinforce the standardization of disaster risk reduction activities, share information and promote best practices. JAG also acts as a coordinating body to improve the response of members during disasters. CHF, ADPC, UNDP, and UNICEF are working on behalf of the UN system to observe and help manage disaster responses in Cambodia.8
ICRC is a non-governmental humanitarian organization. Its work includes contributing to the protection of civilian victims of armed conflict and internal struggle as well as dealing with the consequences of these events. As part of this function, it acts as a neutral and unbiased go-between for any humanitarian endeavor.9 ICRC works together with Cambodian Red Cross (CRC) to assist emergency responses (to conflict and natural disasters) and communications and organizational development. It also works to expand knowledge of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement’s basic principles as well as international humanitarian law.10
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) was formed in 1919 and has 192 national societies. Its mission is to support the victims in disaster and also to enhance the capacity of its member country organizations via development activities.11
CRC was founded in 1955 and has been an operational partner of the International Committee of the Red Cross.12 CRC is the country’s largest humanitarian organization and is legally recognized by the government as an auxiliary to governmental agencies conveying humanitarian assistance.13 CRC offers a diverse variety of disaster relief, humanitarian and development services.14
USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) is building the emergency response capacity of humanitarian NGOs supporting Cambodia. It supports 32 countries in the East Asia and the Pacific (EAP) regions to respond to disasters and supports disaster risk reduction programs strengthening the ability of communities, governments, businesses and other actors.15 USAID/OFDA focuses on strategic, context-specific programs designed to meet particular risk reduction needs in each country, with capacity building as a consistent theme across all programs. In the fiscal year 2020, USAID/OFDA provided more than $22 million for stand-alone disaster risk reduction initiatives in the EAP to enhance preparedness and aim to lessen the worst impacts of disasters.16 The EAP regional programs include:
- Piloting Urban and Community Resilience in Asia and the Pacific
- Supporting ASEAN-U.S. progress
- Enhancing Humanitarian Coordination and Information Management
- Improving Regional Search-and-Rescue Capacity
- Building Regional Emergency Preparedness and Response Capacity
- Expanding Flash Flood Guidance System (FFGS) in Southern EAP
- Incident Command System (ICS) Training.17
Cambodia receives two support programs from FY:
- Building the Emergency Response Capacity of Humanitarian NGOs. This supports the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) to provide training to strengthen the capacity and improve coordination among local NGOs, government and relevant agencies.18 ADPC’s program works to strengthen a local NGO network (CHF) and advance coordination between the NCDM and local NGOs to facilitate more coherent and effective preparedness and response operations.
- Strengthening the Emergency Preparedness of the Humanitarian Response Forum (HRF). This supports emergency preparedness in Cambodia by enhancing coordination and communication among humanitarian actors in the country.19
- Disasters and emergency response
- Disaster preparedness and emergency response policy and administration
- Climate change
- SDG 11 Sustainable cities and communities
- SDG 13 Climate action
- 1. King of the Kingdom of Cambodia, “Law on Disaster Management,” ODC, 10 July 2015, accessed on 06 September 2021.
- 2. Humanyun, Salman and Mary Picard, “Implementing the law on Disaster Management in Cambodia: Developing Subsidiary Legislation,” UNDP and IFRC, June 2017, accessed on 06 September 2021.
- 3. Asian Disaster Preparedness Center, “Asian Preparedness Partnership,” accessed on 06 September 2021.
- 4. Cambodian Humanitarian Forum, “What We Do,” accessed on 06 September 2021.
- 5. CFE-DM, “Cambodia: Disaster Management Reference Handbook,” December 2020, accessed on 10 September 2021.
- 6. Saruha, “United Nations Disaster Management Team,” 25 June 2012, accessed on 06 August 2021.
- 7. CEF-DM, “Cambodia: Disaster Management Reference Handbook,” September 2017, accessed on 10 September 2021.
- 8. OCHA, “Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR),” accessed on 06 September 2021.
- 9. Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, “Movement Principle,” access on 06 September 2021.
- 10. ICRC, “International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Cambodia,” 2016, accessed on 06 September 2021.
- 11. IFRC, “Who we are,” accessed on 08 September 2021.
- 12. ICRC, “International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Cambodia,” 2016, accessed on 06 September 2021.
- 13. Cambodia Red Cross, accessed on 08 September 2021.
- 14. IFRC, “Cambodia,” accessed on 08 September 2021.
- 15. USAID, “Our Work,” 20 July 2021, accessed on 08 September 2021.
- 16. USAID, “Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, Development and Disaster Risk reduction EAP,” 2020, accessed 16 September 2021.
- 17. CEF-DM, “Cambodia: Disaster Management Reference Handbook,” September 2017, accessed on 10 September 2021.
- 18. ADPC, “Our Approach,” accessed on 08 September 2021.
- 19. USAID, “East Asia and the Pacific: Humanitarian Assistance in Review,” 2018, accessed on 06 September 2021.