Presenter: Liam Cochrane
Speaker: Lindsay Daines, Caritas Australia's Group Leader for Southeast Asia
DAINES: In Cambodia, it's still raining. The biggest problem currently is that the flood waters are not receding as quickly as might be expected. But the floods do seem to have peaked. About seven-thousand families are being helped by us and there over 250 deaths in Cambodia, and it's affected a number of provinces along the Tonle Sap and then into the Mekong, so it's come down from the north to the south of the country.
COCHRANE: Tell us a bit more about some of those seven-thousand families that you're assisting, where are they and what sort of conditions are they living in?
DAINES: They're in Kampong Thom and Kampong Cham province, they're not living at home anymore really, a lot of them are in the shelters so the things that they lose of course are obviously things that you don't move when you go away from a flood which is heavy things, kitchen items, food. One of the biggest problems always with a flood is there's lots of water but it's not clean and getting people clean water and medical assistance is really important. The other thing of course is that agriculture land gets destroyed so that the Cambodian government's estimating about 190-thousand hectares of rice fields have been destroyed.
COCHRANE: And what might that mean for food shortages as a result of these floods into the future?
DAINES: Well the government is saying that the food supplies are reasonably guaranteed, that even though this is a serious blow there's enough food and the country is not in danger of people starving, that's the government point of view.
COCHRANE: And your point of view?
DAINES: Well I'm not there, I don't know and normally they're reasonably accurate on things like this but you don't know until floodwaters recede how much has really been destroyed. Some rice fields can be really inundated but still survive and a lot will have been washed away.
COCHRANE: And it must be a real blow for farmers who may have perhaps borrowed money to plant their season's rice crops now have had their entire crops destroyed. What sort of effects might it have after the waters do recede and the country gets a better look at the actual damage? What sort of lingering effects for farmers?
DAINES: That's a really good question, one of the issues of course is we see the floods on the news and they're very spectacular but the after effects are really very difficult to deal with because the rebuilding of infrastructure can take a number of years. Re-organising agricultural productivity can take a number of years, rebuildling infrastructure can take a number of years, so we are probably looking at some long term food support for some of the most affected families or short-term or let's say three month food support because people won't be able to grow anything, and then a gradual rebuilding. And one of the issues is where do you replant, are we planting in places that are going to be continually flooded like this? But this is the largest flood that has affected Cambodia in over a decade, so it's a fairly unique experience.
COCHRANE: Lindsay Daines, Caritas is also assisting people in the Philippines that are recovering from Typhoon Nesat. Just briefly how's the recovery efforts going there?
DAINES: That seems to be well on track. Nesat primarily affected central parts of Luzon. We have been working before in the Bulacan area, which is the most affected. One of the things that has been successful is the mobilisation of volunteers to help with cleanup. And I suppose an important thing to say about the Philippines is that the response of the various Catholic dioceses, given that it's a majority Catholic country, has been very good. They do have a national response system, Caritas Philippines and of course being an organisation based in the Catholic Church, Caritas has contributed to that work.