Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that the government will provide financial support to nearly 20,000 households affected by recent flooding.
While addressing a university graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh on October 17, he ordered authorities in the affected areas to conduct assessments and distribute rice and crop varieties according to the needs of flood victims.
He said around 20,000 of the worst-affected households will receive the payments, which will average out to $42 per family for a period of three months. The government has estimated that total expenditure will equal $2.4 million.
“Some of the families are not impoverished but have had their ability to earn a livelihood impacted. In order to combat the inflationary pressure they may experience, we are prepared to assist them by issuing three months’ payments at once. They are subject to different considerations from IDPoor cardholders, as they are the victims of a sudden disaster,” he noted.
“We will also provide varieties of seed to them so they can restart their agricultural activities as soon as possible. Families who are already receiving cash transfers will continue to do so. The Ministry of Planning and the National Social Security Fund [NSSF] will conduct further enquiries to determine which families, if any, require additional support,” he said.
In addition, he said he has instructed the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) to find ways to help ease the financial pressures felt by the flood-affected families.
“I have told the [NBC] to meet with banks and microfinance institutions in the affected areas, calling on them to either delay repayments, lower interest rates or restructure loans,” he said.
According to a report by the National Committee for Disaster Management, 105 towns and 435 districts in 23 provinces were inundated, with Kampong Thom, Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey and Battambang most affected. Overall, more than 190,000ha of rice fields were flooded, of which over 60,000ha was unrecoverable. More than half a million people were affected by the disaster.
Seng Reasey, executive director of the NGO SILAKA, told The Post on October 17 that the government’s announcement to expand support to other victims was a humanitarian triumph, noting that many members of the NGO community had hoped it would happen.
“We are very pleased with the prime minister’s announcement. It demonstrates the government’s efforts to help the most vulnerable people,” she said.
Reasey also suggested that the government focus attention on members of the informal economy and those who are self-employed, as they had been impacted – by the pandemic and the flooding – and would benefit from the social assistance programmes.