Tailored itineraries and construction deadlines: How the private sector could change Cambodia’s climate information services

Tailored climate information services may be the future in Cambodia. © Manuth Buth/UNDP Cambodia

You’ve just arrived in Cambodia, excited to explore the wonders of the Kingdom. You notice a breeze picking up as you pull up to your hotel. As you check-in, you enquire about booking a sunrise tour to Angkor Wat the next morning. The clerk informs you that there is a storm expected for then, but how about the following morning when the weather is clearer? He then provides you with a forecast for the duration of your stay alongside recommended activities best suited to each day’s weather conditions. Grateful the clerk has taken the time to present you with a tailored weather outlook (and gaining your hotel loyalty in the process) you can enjoy your sleep in, knowing you haven’t missed your opportunity to see the incredible temple complex.

The tourism industry is just one example of how climate information services can be of great utility in Cambodia. Agriculture, construction, and mining are also industries in which having a greater understanding of impending weather can fundamentally influence success, or otherwise, of projects and activities.

The UNDP-supported project ‘Strengthening Climate Information and Early Warning Systems in Cambodia’, funded by the GEF-Least Developed Countries Fund, recently commissioned a report on the potential for private sector engagement with early warning systems in the country.

In Cambodia, having timely forecasts for weather, as well as the ability for early warning for disasters, is critical. With agriculture as a primary industry there is a need to know when to expect rain, dry periods, floods, storms etc. “We noticed that there are lots of changes in the weather. For example, the winds seem stronger than in previous years. In August last year, floods should already have come but they didn’t. There was also the drought which affected many of our rice fields.  The changes affect the farmers, who rely on agriculture and rain,” said Mr. Seng Solkhoeun, one of the District Governors in Kampong Cham province. 

Climate information in Cambodia is currently under the domain of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology (MoWRAM). It is collated either manually or by automatic weather and hydrology stations and water sensors across the country, after which it is relayed back to the Phnom Penh headquarters. It is then disseminated to ministries and relevant agencies, as well as to the public via social media, mass media and the MoWRAM website.

Climate information is critical to knowing how the weather will affect industries such as tourism and agriculture © UNDP Cambodia

There is enormous potential for private sector engagement within the world of early warning. Private sector players often hold resources, technology, and skills that may not be readily available within the meteorological agency at a particular point in time. Similarly, the private sector could reap a series of benefits from having tailored climate information services.

“We have conducted an analysis of global and regional trends in climate information services that could be further explored and applied in Cambodia,” said Mr. Muhibuddin Usamah, UNDP Early Warning Systems project manager. “The report contains a landscape analysis, market review, and recommendations for private sector engagement in Cambodia, with reference to 10 identified sectors - aviation, agriculture, insurance and re-insurance, telecom, fisheries, water resources, energy, construction, tourism, and mining.”

Privately owned towers may be able to be used to help improve climate information services © Kelsea Clingeleffer/UNDP Cambodia

One example of private sector benefits can be found in the construction industry. Anyone walking down the streets of Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville only needs to look upwards to see the construction boom in recent years. With an annual maximum temperature of 37C in Cambodia, heat can create issues for the wellbeing and productivity of workers, while rainfall can develop dangerous worksites. Tailored climate information may better help set deadlines that allow for these factors, therefore saving money due to delays and ensuring workforces are well looked after.

Similarly, airports are often required to host weather stations on their sites. If coordinated, these stations may be able to relay data back to MoWRAM, therefore enhancing the accuracy of forecasts in these areas without substantially increasing infrastructure costs. In return, MoWRAM may be able to provide targeted forecasts to the airport, enhancing the ability to provide better flight scheduling and reduce delays due to wind and storms.

To view the report, please click here.

Article written by Kelsea Clingeleffer, Results Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Consultant. For more information, please contact Muhibuddin Usamah (Project Manager) at muhibuddin.usamah@undp.org

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