Climatic Catastrophe

Can Cambodia Adapt to a Changing World?

By Sam Campbell, Economics Today

cambodia-flagImpoverished, low-lying and at the mercies of flood and drought, few places are more susceptible to the devastating effects of climate change than Cambodia.

The dangers are difficult to overstate: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that a 40cm change in sea level rise will displace as many as 55 million people by 2080 in South Asia. In the short-term, the UNDP Human Development report estimates that developing countries will need around US$86 billion each year for climate change adaptation by 2015.

The Cambodian government is apparently aware of the danger, noting that, “As an essentially agrarian country, the Kingdom of Cambodia is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change” in their National Adaptation Program for Action (NAPA), a plan to help mitigate the effects of climate change.

Source: Water and Climate Change in the Lower Mekong Basin: Diagnosis & Recommendations for Adaptation (Interim Report) by Water and Development Research Group, Helsinki University of Technology and Southeast Asia START Regional Center, Chulalongkorn University

Source: Water and Climate Change in the Lower Mekong Basin: Diagnosis & Recommendations for Adaptation (Interim Report) by Water and Development Research Group, Helsinki University of Technology and Southeast Asia START Regional Center, Chulalongkorn University

Considering that UN Framework Convention on Climate change stated that adaptation had hardly even been considered in Cambodia as recently as two or three years ago, even this acknowledgement is an achievement. But with floods, droughts, windstorms, high tides, salt water intrusions and malaria outbreaks set to increase in both frequency and duration, and the additional threats of underground water salinization and seawater intrusion in coastal areas, doubts over the kingdom’s ability to adapt linger.

Indonesian Ambassador to Cambodia Ngurah Swajaya told the 5th Asia Economic Forum Apr 7 about the increasingly destructive effects of climate change for Indonesia. “A study undertaken by Indonesia’s Meteorological bureau indicates that in 16 cities in Indonesia … had experienced more than one degree temperature increase in the past 10 years. The increase of one degree in the period of 10 years is disturbing. This changes the weather pattern. It shortened the rain season to only 5 months and lengthened the dry season and drought. The rainy season usually … [now causes] severe floods.” Even as cities flood, Ngurah Swajaya said, only 80 percent of the total demand for fresh water can be met during the rainy season, and a mere 20 percent during the dry season.


Sub-Standard Issue

Cambodia’s Woeful Product Standards Put Consumers in Danger

By Phen Raksmey, Economics Today

Meat vendor

Meat vendor

China’s melamine milk scandal, which saw at least six infants die from kidney damage and over 800 more babies hospitalized, brought product standards to the forefront of international consumer concerns. Like China, Cambodia is now waging war on counterfeit and unsafe products, though the battle here is just beginning.

The prevailence of imports in the Cambodian market, poor consumer knowledge of safety standards and a lack of robust legislation make product standards a critical issue. The Institute of Standards in Cambodia (ISC) stipulates that all food products and electronic products must apply for a Cambodian standard but this rule is only currently enforced for pure drinking water, vinegar and chili sauce. Most consumer products are thus not covered under Cambodian law, so are not subject to compulsory quality testing.

Poor education and scant information are reasons why producers, suppliers and consumers have been slow to address the issue, opined Han Sam Att, as she browsed for milk powder for her 8-month-old son. She cared little whether products meet Cambodian standards, confessing she would be unsure how to tell whether a product meets standards or not. Han Sam Att chooses milk powder according to the advice of her friends or relatives, who learn the better products through trial and error. បន្ត​ការ​អាន

Seeds of Progress

All Hopes Pinned on Rice Exports

By An Sithav, Economics Today

Hig Hopes for Cambodian's White Gold

Hig Hopes for Cambodian's White Gold

Rice-one of the world’s major food staples-has for years been called the white gold of Cambodia, and with the kingdom’s garment industry seemingly in its death throes and tourism growth slackening, there are ambitious plans to turn Cambodia into the world’s biggest rice exporter within a decade.

The prime minister, who has said Cambodia could become the number one rice exporter in six years, and Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun, who expects Cambodia to export 8 million tons of rice annually by 2015, are two of the most vocal advocates of rice cultivation. But government officials, development partners, agriculture experts and industry operators are also united in their belief that Cambodia can become one a leading exporter of white rice.

“A fertile agricultural sector produces white gold to set Cambodia apart and propel its economic growth,” Douglas Broderick, UN resident representative, told an economic forum in early February.

A source reliable of revenue and economic growth would be invaluable at a time when two former major export earners and growth engines-garments and tourism-are crumbling. Raising the profile of the kingdom as a major agricultural hub and reopening the door to foreign direct investment (FDI) would be another key benefit.