Simple & Affordable Technology for Civil Society: Flood Warning Tool

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អត្ថបទ​នេះមានជាភាសា៖ kmខ្មែរ

In February, Rob Ryan-Silva, Director of the DAI Maker Lab, ran a three-day workshop on building hardware for civil society for a group of twelve staff from eight civil society organizations at Development Innovations. This was a test to see if “maker” tools could prove useful in the context of Cambodia’s civil society. During the workshop, trainees learned how to use maker tools, also known as simple technologies for non-specialists, to collect data from a variety of sensors, to output that data, and to send the data to the web or by text message for use and analysis.

After participating in this workshop, NGO People in Need Cambodia (PIN) formed a partnership directly with the DAI Maker Lab and Development Innovations to work on building and installing a low-cost, open source flood early warning tool in Cambodia. The flood warning sensor tool called “Tepmachcha” (meaning mermaid in ancient Hindu stories popular in Cambodia) is a small, inexpensive sonar measuring device which PIN has installed on bridges in two provinces as a trial service. PIN is integrating the sensors into their larger Early Warning System project for the National Committee for Disaster Management. Cambodians can register for this free service by calling 1294 from anywhere in the country and registering their number and location.

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The low-cost, open source flood early warning tool prototype sits at the User Testing Lab at Development Innovations.

This sensor tool measures the distance of the river height, then sends this data via the mobile phone network to the centralized PIN database. PIN will integrate this sensor data with their Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, or voice based early warning message dissemination service, to send a phone call to potentially tens of thousands of inhabitants in the affected area. The call will alert them in the event of dangerously high water levels and enable them to take appropriate action.

Currently, these tools are installed and being piloted in two flood prone areas in Kampot and Pursat provinces. The devices cost less than $300 USD to build and they are solar powered. This means they are low maintenance in comparison to other meteorological stations; an important factor in the low income and remote areas that are most vulnerable to the effects of flooding.

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Rob Ryan-Silva and People in Need install the “Tepmachcha” flood early warning tool in Pursat.

After successfully piloting and refining the Tepmachcha device, PIN plans to install this tool in another eight provinces in the future and potentially countrywide. “We think this innovative tool is a low cost, low maintenance solution to provide advanced warning to Cambodians in the most vulnerable flood prone areas of the country”, says James Happell, PIN’s Technology for Development Manager.

If you are interested in using this tool for your community, you can reach out to People in Need: james.happell@peopleinneed.cz

Download this success story in PDF

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