This paper presents a case study of drought risk assessment and mitigation in the Svay Rieng province of Cambodia. Drought is a creeping disaster and has debilitating impacts on rural livelihoods and socio-economic conditions. Interviews with local communities, government administration and non-governmental agencies indicated the lack of livelihood options that would reduce the communities' dependence on climate-sensitive sectors, lack of dependable weather forecasts and early warning systems, relief-driven drought management systems and lack of sufficient institutional presence at the local level. Through participatory processes such as focused group discussions, the local communities have identified the drought impacts, root causes and measures to reducing their drought vulnerability, which include making available drought-resistant seeds as well as appropriate cropping strategies which are dynamic enough to change depending on the short-and long-term weather forecasts. There is also a need to move the focus from the drought relief approach, which is well developed in Cambodia, to drought risk mitigation. The study has also identified that spreading drought relief to the entire affected population through well-coordinated institutional mechanisms, establishing irrigation infrastructure and community capacity building in better water management practices are key interventions for reducing drought risks in the study areas in specific and in Cambodia in general.
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