29 October 2013, Geneva, Switzerland - Heavy rainfall since September 2013 has provoked important flooding in Cambodia, affecting especially north-west and south-east provinces. In 20 provinces damage has been extensive. The country has 24 provinces in total. According to national sources 168 people have been killed and almost 145,000 have been evacuated as of this week. The UN Resident Coordinator for Cambodia said : “Information from initial assessments that we undertook with national authorities indicate that in some provinces, the floods are more extensive than in 2011”. According to OCHA, 1.7 million people across the entire country have been affected by the disaster, which is still on-going.
UNOSAT has been active by mapping the extent of the floods across the provinces affected and by producing updates on the flooding situation in the capital Phnom Penh city. UNOSAT rapid mapping activation responds to the information needs of WFP and UNICEF, both heavily engaged in helping the Cambodian government respond to the situation and cater for people in need together with other agencies including IOM and OCHA.
The triggering of the International Space Charter was necessary to respond to the information requirements for this disaster. Einar Bjorgo, Manager of UNOSAT, says: “We are not working in isolation. WFP also produces their own maps from within the country, which integrate UNOSAT data. This helps produce information adapted to the needs of the UN agencies operating on the ground”.
UNOSAT is coordinating mapping activities with the European Commission Emergency Response Centre, which has also been involved in initial mapping of this event. Bjorgo confirms: “We work very well with the European Commission’s mapping set-up. The Cambodia flood situation is an example of how UNOSAT complements European capacity, making sure that maps and geographic data are available for the full area and time period needed by our UN sister agencies to operate”.
Images: Top - A Cambodian man is rescued from flooding waters (courtesy UNICEF). Bottom - A satellite view of Phnom Penh City still parttially under water on 29 October.