The alarm was sounded early that day in the province of Battambang. It was October 2020 and heavy rains in the provinces cradled by the Mekong River Basin were causing severe flooding. The authorities' evacuation orders saved the lives of many people, despite the significant property damage. Unfortunately, others were not as lucky.
Cambodia is one of the countries most vulnerable to severe flooding during low season (mid-May to mid-October). But this could change in the coming years thanks to new technologies. The Czech NGO People in Need launched an initiative in 2013 to develop an instrument using these technologies. Codenamed EWS 1294 (for Early Warning System), this instrument contains cutting-edge technology providing systematic warnings for the population when heavy rainfall or high-water risks become particularly acute. Coupled with another system that collects groundwater level data, EWS 1294 aims to reinforce people's resilience and help local authorities better coordinate their decision-making, enabling immediate, rapid responses.
First tested in 2013, the system has been the hub of cooperation at all levels, making it one of the most promising pilot projects in the region. There has been almost universal support at both the regional and national levels. Internationally, several governmental and non-governmental actors have funded the technology's upscaling, including the UNDP, the United Nations Development Programme. Switzerland, for its part, has been supporting the project since December 2017.