Civil society organisations and local communities yesterday called on the government to provide an additional budget or increase funding at the commune level to tackle climate change and reduce the risk of local level disasters.
The issue was discussed in a workshop held by several NGOs in the capital.
Tek Vannara, executive director of NGO Forum in Cambodia, yesterday said the government and relevant ministries have been working hard to decentralise power to the sub-national level, including providing funds in order to respond to the needs of citizens.
He noted, however, that current funding to tackle climate change at the commune level is not enough because more funds are used for infrastructure development.
He urged the government, relevant ministries, provincial authorities and all stakeholders to increase funding or have a budget for the commune level to fight climate change and reduce the risk of natural disasters.
“We ask the relevant parties, government and development partners to provide more funds, technical support and also human resources to help in the fight against climate change at the sub-national level,” he said.
Chheun Sokdy, Changkranroy forest community chief in Siem Reap province’s Varin district, yesterday said that the community wants to see the government and relevant institutions provide an additional budget or increase funds for commune environmental protection.
She noted that funding for the commune level now only focuses on infrastructure development.
“The amount of money that the commune receives is very little, and we can only use it to build roads,” Ms Sokdy said. “Therefore, our community wants more funds so that the commune authorities can disseminate more information on how to tackle climate change for residents in remote areas because some people do not know how it affects their lives.”
She said the community has suffered disasters due to major climate change, such as floods, storms, droughts and forest fires, which have affected the health and livelihoods of the community.
Nou Samoun, chief of Banteay Chakrei commune in Prey Veng province’s Preah Sdech district, yesterday said the government provides a budget for investment or development of a commune and other services according to the size and population of each commune.
She said that her commune gets about $27,500 a year and most of the funds are used to build roads, pay wages to local officials and other services, with a small amount of what is left used to tackle climate change.
“The limited budget for climate change-related issues is not enough to respond to the actual needs,” Ms Samoun said. “We can only use the funds to disseminate information on the impact of climate change to the village authorities in order for them to keep advising villagers.”
“We also lack human resources to work on tackling climate change,” she added.
Va Vuthy, a National Council for Sustainable Development representative, yesterday said that the relevant ministries and institutions have strived to address the challenges of climate change both, at national and sub-national level, and also increase the budget regularly to address the issue.
“If we look at the figures for the budget on climate change and natural disasters resolution, it has increased.” he said. “Therefore, it is an issue that we have to continue tackling together with civil society organisations, government, development partners and the private sector.”