Holidays in Cambodia – 2017

January 01 International New Year Day
January 07 Victory over Genocide Day
February 11 Meak Bochea Day
March 08 International Women’s Day
April 14, 15, 16 Khmer New Year Day
May 01 International Labor Day
May 10 Visak Bochea Day
May 13, 14, 15 King’s Birthday, Norodom Sihamoni
May 14 Royal Plowing Ceremony
June 01 International Children Day
June 18 King’s Mother Birthday, Norodom Monineath Sihanouk
September 19, 20, 21 Pchum Ben Day
September 24 Constitutional Day
October 15 Commemoration Day of King’s Father, Norodom Sihanouk
October 23 Anniversary of the Paris Peace Accord
October 29 King’s Coronation Day, Norodom Sihamoni
November 02, 03, 04 Water Festival Ceremony
November 09 Independence Day
December 10 International Human Rights Day

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Holidays in Cambodia, 2016

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Religious holidays, UN nominated days, national commemorations – visitors are often confused by unexpected holidays.

Confused by all the unexpected holidays in Cambodia? Booking a journey and wanting to include Pchum Ben?  Here’s an official list of holidays in Cambodia – 2016

January 01 International New Year Day
January 07 Victory over Genocide Day
February 22 Meak Bochea Day
March 08 International Women Day
April 13, 14, 15, 16 Khmer New Year Day
May 01 International Labor Day
May 13, 14, 15 King’s Birthday, Norodom Sihamoni
May 20 Visak Bochea Day
May 24 Royal Plowing Ceremony
June 01 International Children Day
June 18 King’s Mother Birthday, Norodom Monineath Sihanouk
September 24 Constitutional Day
September 30, October 01, 02 (Note, some sources include October 3rd as well.)
Pchum Ben Day – or Ancestors Day
October 15 Commemoration Day of King’s Father, Norodom Sihanouk
October 23 Paris Peace Agreements Day
October 29 King’s Coronation Day, Norodom Sihamoni
November 09 Independence Day
November 13, 14, 15 Water Festival Ceremony
December 10 International Human Rights Day

In Cambodia, on a Galaxy not so far away

CAMBO CHARTSMART

One pair of figures from the Asia Foundation study into mobile and internet in Cambodia, sums up the growth of smart-phone usage. In two years smart-phones doubled in market share, and if anything that growth is accelerating. By the end of this year more than half of all mobiles will be smart-phones.

Below we see who is getting the business: Samsung, for now, has half the smart-phone market, spearheaded with its Galaxy phones.

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According to the report smart-phones are becoming increasingly a preferred source of news, weather and information.

Cambodia may have made a late start, but most of the country have skipped landline technology, PC computing and have jumped straight into the possibilities of 4G. A process that took the west at least 5 decades.

For more mobile phone facts and figures – click here.

 

 

Cambodia needs more than wells to achieve universal clean water access

FRESH WATER

UNICEF reports that 6 million Cambodians do not have access to safe, clean, drinkable water.  The problem is not just lack of wells.

The latest drought across Cambodia has shone the spotlight on the need for clean fresh water.  State initiatives to bring clean bottled water to drought-stricken villages has been useful, but only for the short term. What every Cambodian needs is steady, reliable access to clean fresh water. A recent UNICEF report, dated 2014, calculated that 6.3 million out of Cambodia’s 14.9 million population lacked access to clean drinking water. The problem is, in particular, a rural problem (80% of Phnom Penh’s population has access to clean drinking water,) and the main reason for the problem – the report stated – was that the Government has simply made other developments a higher priority. New roads have higher priority than access to water.

  • Some 40 percent of primary schools and 35 percent of health centers in the country do not have access to safe water and sanitation.
  • The lack of access to clean water leaves Cambodian children vulnerable to diseases such as diarrhea, which is the second leading cause of death among children under five, according to UNICEF.
  • According to WaterAid at least 380 children die each year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.

Since 2014, according to international aid agency WaterAid there is now a national strategy, outlined by the Government, of reaching universal access to clean water by 2025: an objective that will not only play catch-up with the 6 million who lack adequate water supplies today, but will need to also reach the expanding population projected to reach at least 17.5 million by 2025.  Can they achieve this?

The digging of wells is the main solution in the rural villages though for the cities the provision of mains supply water is the main emphasis: treating lake, river sourced or well-sourced waters with full filtration systems as well as chemical treatment such as flouridation or chlorination.

Compounding the problem is the presence of two hazards in the ground and surface waters usually drawn upon by villages.  One hazard is naturally occurring arsenic: an issue that affects the whole Mekong delta region.  On this front Cambodia’s official ‘acceptable’ limit is 50 parts per million – in contrast to 30ppm in most Western countries.

An even more significant hazard is the presence of TTCs (thermo-tolerant coliform bacteria). For these bacteria, water treatment is needed.

Today in the face of drought, now and in the future, the provision of wells is a laudable initiative, and their are many agencies engaged with this – and worth supporting. My friend Savong has helped many well-building projects in rural Siem Reap.

But Cambodia also needs more reservoirs to effectively store water gathered during peak rainy periods and create a top-up for groundwater which, many experts believe, is sinking significantly.

The more wells or holes dug into the groundwater, the more pressure it loses causing well water levels to drop. That’s according to Mekong River Commission technical adviser Ian Thomas as reported in the Phnom Penh Post, last March 4th. A February Stanford University study found the more wells Cambodians dig, the harder it will be to extract water.

The building of reservoirs, (Angkor’s  East and West Baray are good examples from 1,000 years ago,)  would provide greater eco-stability for farming, fishing, and general water supply.

But for now, reservoirs and wells are just the start. Treating the water is also necessary. Water filters are a big part of the story. If you are supporting a water project, ask about the need for water filtration and treatment.

  • Sixty dollars will by a good basic bio-sand filter via Water for Cambodia.
  • Or Ceramic Filters, (they look like clay pots,) which are also recommended, are available through Resource Development International – who also supply water testing kits if you are worried about arsenic levels.

Further reading in this blog:

For more on the politics of water in Cambodia Who owns the Mekong? The intricate politics of water.

Also about the 2016 Drought

For other Facts and Figures about Cambodia

 

 

 

How safe is Cambodia’s airline?

Below average. The air safety infrastructure lets the ratings down.

Below average. The air safety infrastructure lets the ratings down.

You can find everything on the web, and recently a friend of mine, Dennis Weng, and I were discussing airline safety. He’s a statistician and we were discussing international standards. The conversation led me to the Airline Ratings Website which posts a safety rating out of 7 for every significant airline in the world. Cambodia Angkor Air gets a…er…3 out of 7.

Admittedly the audit was updated as far back as 2009, almost 6 years ago, so things have doubtless improved. What really pulls the safety rating downward is the poor Cambodian infrastructure. Should a plane go down there is inadequate air accident investigation resource, and as it stands, a weak air navigation network and emergency response at the airports.

Still things could be worse. In 2004 I flew out of Phnom Penh airport. They had an amnesty bin in which travellers could drop pocket knives or other items deemed unfit for air travel. Right there is the perspex container I saw it: an old hand grenade, found apparently by an American hippie tourist who thought it would make a great souvenir.

Imagine sitting on a plane next to that guy!

The 7 star safety assessment criteria for all airlines is as follows

Is the airline IOSA certified? If yes two stars are awarded; if not, no star is given.
What is IOSA Certification? The IATA* Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certification audit is an internationally recognised and accepted evaluation system designed to assess the operational management and control systems of an airline. IOSA uses internationally recognised audit principles and is designed to conduct audits in a standardised and consistent manner. Airlines are re evaluated every two years. Registering for IOSA certification and auditing is not mandatory therefore an airline that does not have IOSA certification may have either failed the IOSA audit or alternatively chosen not to participate. *IATA (International Air Transport Association)

Is the airline on the European Union (EU) Blacklist? If no a full star is awarded; if yes then no star is given.
What is the EU Blacklist? A list of airlines banned from flying into European airspace due to safety concerns arising from alleged poor aircraft maintenance and/or regulatory oversight. Airlines banned by the EU may have a flawless safety record however the potential risk towards passenger safety is deemed by the EU as too high and a ban is put in place

Has the airline maintained a fatality free record for the past 10 years? If yes the airline are awarded a full star; if not then no star is given.
A fatality is deemed as the death of crew and/or passengers whilst on board the aircraft due to an accident. If deaths occurred through acts of terrorism or highjackings they have not been included. If an airline suffered a fatal accident through no fault of their own such as a runway incursion on the active runway (an incident where an unauthorized aircraft, vehicle or person is on a runway) this has also not been included.

Is the airline FAA endorsed? If yes a full star is awarded; if not, no star is given.
What is FAA endorsement? In the United States, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has a list that bans countries (not airlines) from flying into American Airspace. The ban arises from a deemed inability to adhere to international aviation standards for aircraft operations and maintenance. According to the FAA Web site, “those that do not meet these international standards cannot initiate new service and are restricted to current levels of any existing service to the United States while corrective actions are underway.” An airline or airlines from a prohibited country may have a flawless safety record however the potential risk to safety is deemed too high by the FAA to allow operations in American airspace.

Does the country of airline origin meet all 8 ICAO safety parameters? If yes TWO stars are awarded to the airline. However, if the one criteria that is below the average is so by less than 15 per cent it is considered a pass. If 5 to 7 of the criteria are met one star is awarded. If the country only meets up to four criteria no star is given.
What is ICAO and what are the 8 parameters? The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) was created to promote the safe and orderly development of international civil aviation throughout the world. It sets standards and regulations necessary for aviation safety, security, efficiency and regularity, as well as for aviation environmental protection. The 8 ICAO audit parameters that pertain to safety are; Legislation, Organization, Licensing, Operations, Airworthiness, Accident Investigation, Air Navigation Service and Aerodromes. For more information on a particular country visit: http://www.icao.int/safety/Pages/USOAP-Results.aspx.

Has the airline’s fleet been grounded by the country’s governing aviation safety authority due to safety concerns? If yes an additional star will be taken off the total for five years from the time of grounding

Does the airline operate only Russian built aircraft? If yes an additional star will be taken off the total.
– See more at: http://www.airlineratings.com/safety_rating_per_airline.php?l=C#sthash.AUhiB4NW.dpuf

Road safety in Cambodia – is it getting even worse?

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The photo above was published in the Phnom Penh Post following a tragic road accident in which the driver of this van was killed. The van itself was carrying more than half a dozen factory workers time, and it is lucky that there were no other losses of life. But look at that photo.To me it encapsulates several reasons why road safety in Cambodia is appalling at best, and showing signs of getting worse due to the rapidly increasing numbers of motor vehicles on the roads. (Today there are more than 1.7 million 4 wheeled light vehicles and around 1.5 million motorbikes and tuktuks.)

There are many reasons why road safety produces such bad statistics for Cambodia. In the year 2012 almost 2000 people died in traffic accidents, a figure that was double that from seven years previous. According to one report from the Voice of America, traffic fatalities in Cambodia account than nine times the number of deaths from malaria, dengue fever, HIV and AIDS put together. On a typical holiday weekend Cambodia can expect to lose between 30 and 50 lives.

Of the deaths, 80% are males and half are aged 15-29 years old.

Here are some of the causes – or issues that need addressing:

  • Driver attitudes. This encompasses poor driver training, the notable presence of drunken drivers, as well is the characteristic high speed “get out of my way” stubbornness that seems prevalent on Cambodian roads. By government reckoning, 96% of Cambodia’s road accidents come from human error.
  • A second cause for the bad chemistry is the mixed usage of roads by a wide variety of pedestrians, cyclists, motorbikes, cars, heavy trucks – but also by non-transport users including children at play, wandering livestock and the presence of roadside stalls.
  • The third cause for the high road toll is the way vehicles are over-utilised. Visitors to Cambodia are always amazed to see entire family’s poised on a motorbike, or to see flatbed trucks populated with no fewer than 40 passengers piled on top of cargo goods. When one of these vehicles has an accident the risks are multiplied.
  • A fourth contributor to the high road toll is the compliance with road safety practices such as the wearing of seat belts in cars and trucks, or the wearing of helmets by cyclists and motorcyclists.2012 pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcycle riders accounted for 83% of fatalities. Figures from 2010 suggested that just 65% of motorcyclists were wearing helmets, and only 9% of passengers were wearing helmets. And while there are laws that ban driving while using a handheld mobile phone compliance with this is not consistent.
  • The fifth contributor is the poor standard of vehicles themselves. Often these cheap and elderly imports, second-hand from other countries. Compounding this problem is the fact that so many vehicles are so poorly maintained.
  • Finally there is only a weak emergency assistance infrastructure with between 11% and 49% of accident victims receiving ambulance attendance.

Is the picture getting worse? It depends on how you look at it. On the one hand the rate of fatalities per million kilometers of travel appears to be dropping slightly thanks to improved roading and the introduction of some basic safety measures. The government is likely to be stricter at enforcing helmet wearing for example.

But in raw terms, the sheer number of deaths, the chart keeps pointing upwards. In 2001 there were just four deaths per hundred thousand people in Cambodia. By 2010 the figure had risen threefold to just over 12 deaths per hundred thousand people.

Of course this has social costs quite apart from the grief when a family member, friend or colleague is killed. A death or injury can easily make the difference between a family making its way versus being destitute.

Road safety specialists from overseas put a cost on traffic fatalities, and in Cambodia they suggest this is costing the country the equivalent of 3.5% of GDP. Put in those terms it is perhaps no surprise that the government is prioritising road safety. It’s initiatives tend to focus on compliance, so Cambodians can expect a police force more vigilant toward helmet usage and possibly random breath testing.

When you look at the list of causes of poor road safety in Cambodia, it is hard not to see that a big underlying reason is poverty. It is poverty that puts 30 or more people on the back of the truck. It is poverty that prevents the owner of that truck from investing sufficiently in the maintenance and upkeep of the truck’s mechanicals. It is not enough to say the rule breakers are the main cause of road fatalities in this developing nation. But perhaps it is a start.

PS. Below. Thank you to sponsor Kim Deane for donating helmets for the senior students supported by Savong. These students navigate the busy roads in Siem Reap.

HELMETS

Road safety irony at work – fancy a Suzuki Smash?