Rural Development Minister Ouk Rabun speaks at the ministry’s annual meeting yesterday. FACEBOOK
Rural Development Minister Ouk Rabun speaks at the ministry’s annual meeting yesterday. Facebook

Rural access to water, sanitation improves

Cambodia is making slow but steady progress in access to rural clean water and sanitation, according to an annual report released by the Ministry of Rural Development yesterday.

According to the report, the number of people living in rural areas who had access to clean water increased from half in 2015 to 53 percent in 2016, while access to sanitation, such as proper toilets, increased nearly 10 percent to 56 percent.

Ouk Rabun, the minister of rural development, called the improvement a success while highlighting long-term goals.

“The goal for 2025 is for 100 percent of people living at rural areas to have clean water and sanitation,” he said.

Mao Saray, director of the Department of Rural Water Supply, said the ministry built and repaired wells at 1,582 locations in 2016.

In addition, water reservoirs were constructed in Stung Treng and Kampong Thom provinces.

With regard to sanitation, he said that the ministry built restrooms at 109 rural locations, with a total of 1,629 toilets being constructed. The areas included Tbong Khmum, Battambang, Kampong Speu and Kampot.

“The ministry will try to build more wells, toilets and educate people in rural areas,” Saray said.

Chea Yuthrearun, director of rural redevelopment in Banteay Meanchey, said many residents in the province, which has suffered from drought in recent years, have a shortage of clean water.

He added that the government’s intervention in clean water allocation and improving residents’ knowledge about sanitation were important in overcoming last year’s water shortage.

Hang Hybunna, a sanitation specialist at NGO Plan International, said more remains to be done.

“The government needs to work together with international NGOs, partners and clean water experts,” he said, noting that villagers may be “confused” when the government and NGOs have different approaches or plans.

He added that NGOs should standardise hygiene guidelines, and the government should increase efforts in water pipe networks, community water treatment and drinking water supply in remote areas.

Additional reporting by Jovina Chua