The Early Warning System (EWS) 1294 early warning message dissemination dashboard has been developed by People in Need for the National Committee for Disaster Management. The system provides NCDM with the ability to send voice based alerts in the event of a natural disaster in Cambodia.
According to a 2011 Ministry of Environment and BBC Media Action study, following floods in 2010, 36% of Cambodians did not receive any flood related information about the disaster and 72% percent of those who did receive alerts, received it during or after the event had occurred.
In 2013, more than 1.8 million people were affected by heavy rain and flash floods across 20 Cambodian provinces. Many families were not prepared for the intensity of the storms, nor were they aware how severely the flooding would affect their families and their livelihoods; resulting in a greater loss of lives and more significant economic losses. It was estimated that the total damage and loss caused by the 2013 floods to be over $356 million USD, of which $153 million represented the destruction of physical assets in the affected areas, and $203 million in estimated losses in production and economic flows.
Thanks to funding from DIPECHO in 2013, People in Need in partnership with Open Institute, InSTEDD and Provincial Committee for Disaster Management (PCDM) piloted the first voice based, mobile phone early warning information dissemination system in 3 flood prone villages in Pursat province. Since that time the EWS 1294 System has continued to expand into further areas of Cambodia.
It is currently fully active in 6 disaster prone provinces (Banteay Meachey, Battambang, Siem Reap, Pursat, Kampong Chhnang, and Kampot) with over 50,000 active registered users. Each Provincial Department of Disaster Management (PCDM) has access to this dashboard, which highlights potential disaster threats and allows them to record and send messages directly to those individuals and families in the affected areas.
The system has been officially recognized by NCDM and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications as a front line emergency phone service and the telecommunications providers Cellcard, Metfone and Smart have all made the service freely available to all their customers. NCDM and PIN plan to further expand the system throughout Cambodia, with plans to roll out the system country wide by the end of 2018.