Strengthening Early Warning Systems in Cambodia
Koh Krong Province, July 2018 © Samruol Im/UNDP Cambodia
Ms. Oak Iet, 46, is a fulltime official with the Provincial Department of Water Resources and Meteorology in Koh Krong, southwest Cambodia.
Each and every day for the past two years, Ms. Iet has been manually checking a simple rain gauge installed at the end of her backyard – voluntarily hosted in an extension to her responsibilities – logging rainfall data and reporting it the provincial authorities.
Her contribution (along with other officials and volunteers performing a similar duty across the country) is an important one. The data she collects feeds in to the Government of Cambodia’s capacity to monitor and forecast weather. For this task, Ms Iet and her husband receive a small payment each month of 100,000 Riel, approximately 25 USD.
“The rain has to be measured every morning at 6am. I have to update the authorities without fail every day – rain or no rain.”
Ms. Iet and her husband moved to Koki Chrum village from the southerly province of Kampong Cham around 11 years ago, where a pronounced drought had caused the family financial difficulties.
While the family does not experience drought in Koki Chrum, they have frequently experienced flash floods. Each year the river overflows.
“The weather in my area is not stable – it is changing, and it is becoming more unpredictable. Some weeks, it rains all week. Other weeks, no rain at all.”
Last month (in June 2018), with the family’s permission, an automatic weather station was installed by the Provincial Department in the family’s garden. The tower, and its various sensors, looms among banana plants, enclosed in a 10x10m pen, keeping out her toddler but not the family’s chickens which potter around its base.
Ms. Iet says the more detailed and accurate information gathered from the automatic weather station – which measures wind, air temperature and relative humidity, evaporation, solar radiation, and soil moisture and soil temperature, every 15 minutes (reflected online at the Department of Meteorology’s website www.cambodiameteo.com) – will be very helpful to farming families who will be able to check the conditions real-time and know what is coming. She will be able to share the information with neighbours who frequently come to her.
“Most people in the area aren’t aware of weather information, but they know I am an official with knowledge and so they come to me to ask. I give them whatever information I can about our area and also other provinces (drought, flooding, lightning, wind).”
Ms. Iet feels responsibility for what she does for the community. “Weather forecasts are very helpful, they allow people to prepare. Farmers need to know if they will have enough water for their crops.”
*Associated with the project ‘Strengthening Climate Information and Early Warning Systems in Cambodia’, supported by the UN Development Programme and the GEF Least Developed Countries Fund. Learn more at www.kh.undp.org/content/cambodia/en/home/operations/proje...