CAMBODIA’S EARLY WARNING SYSTEM NOW USED BY 93,000 PEOPLE IN 21 PROVINCESPublished: Nov 14, 2019 Reading time: 2 minutes
In Cambodia, flooding is an annual danger, but until recently, people living in flood-prone areas had little or no advance warning before a deluge arrived. To address this issue, People in Need (PIN) Cambodia developed a user-centered alert tool, the Early Warning System (EWS) 1294. First created in 2013 for the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), EWS 1294 delivers advance warnings to people in areas that frequently flood.
“Cambodians can register for the system by dialing 1294 – a free call – and following the prompts,” says Federico Barreras, PIN Cambodia’s disaster management program manager. “It is also possible to select three levels of alerts – province, district and commune.”
Using sophisticated hazard-detection technology, data-storage tools and warning-dissemination software, EWS 1294 sends voice-based alerts and instructions to registered users when rivers and streams reach “dangerous levels.”
The goal of EWS 1294 is to give people enough time to get out of harm’s way. “This could mean evacuation to the nearest safe site, or staying in their homes and securing their most important possessions,” explains Barreras. “In any disaster situation, having enough time to prepare or evacuate can mean the difference between life and death.”
The system was developed with funding from the European Commission through the EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations and in partnership with the Open Institute, Innovative Support to Emergencies Diseases and Disasters (InSTEDD), the Provincial Committee for Disaster Management (PCDM), and the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM).
Extension to the entire country
Since its initial implementation, EWS 1294 has expanded coverage and undergone gradual improvements and upgrades. It is currently operating in 21 of Cambodia’s 24 provinces with approximately 93, 000 unique subscribers nationwide. In each province, PCDM has access to a dashboard that highlights potential threats. Provincial authorities also have the ability to record and send messages directly to registered individuals and families in threatened areas.
Thanks to funding from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Cambodia and Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, PIN will be extending EWS 1294 to the remaining provinces and its capital city, Phnom Penh by May 2020. “In close collaboration with the National Committee for Disaster Management, People in Need is also developing plans to transfer control of the system to the NCDM, a move that will ensure the system’s long-term sustainability,” concludes Lukas Laube, PIN Cambodia Country Director.