Reaching where the water doesn’t
Approximately 8 million Cambodians do not have access to adequate sanitation facilities and a large proportion of the population still practises open defecation. The most common sources of drinking water are tube wells or deeper boreholes. Between 2015 and 2020, we supported the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Cambodian Red Cross to provide clean drinking water to over 26,500 people and safe, effective, and affordable sanitation facilities to nearly 20,300 people living in rural and peri-urban areas of Banteay Mean Chey, Kratié and Svay Rieng provinces.
Cambodia has one of the lowest water supply coverages (77%) and the lowest sanitation coverage in Southeast Asia (37%). In Banteay Mean Chey, Kratié and Svay Rieng provinces, water coverage is less than 40% and sanitation coverage is particularly low at less than 60%.
Between 2015 and 2020, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Cambodian Red Cross worked in close collaboration with central and local government in these three water-stressed provinces to successfully empower 23 rural and peri-urban communities with access to safe drinking water, improved sanitation facilities and good hygiene knowledge and practices.
- 26,505 people and 11 schools gained access to clean drinking water sources through the construction or rehabilitation of 23 simple and effective water systems, enabling considerable reductions in the time and effort spent obtaining water. At the end of the programme, the use of unprotected wells, springs, rivers and ponds as drinking water sources had dropped from 75% to 35%.
- 20,295 people and 8 schools (7 primary schools and 1 secondary school) acquired access to improved sanitation facilities (over 2,000 latrine units and 1,650 household latrines). A decreasing trend of open defecation was reported at the end of the programme, especially during the rainy season, as well as a lower incidence of diarrhoea and dengue among the communities where improved sanitation services were available.
- The safe and hygienic use of water and sanitation facilities was simultaneously promoted by Red Cross volunteers delivering 656 hygiene promotion sessions in schools, communities and individual households. The Red Cross participatory approach – which adopts the PHAST methodology and is tailored to the specific needs of each context – confirmed its effectiveness, helping people improve their hygiene behaviours and feel empowered to make real and sustainable changes. A survey conducted at the end of the programme highlighted for instance that 98% of the people interviewed now have access to hand washing facilities, and that 93% of them use water with soap.