Promoting Water Access and Improved Sanitation among the Minorities

by Mom Chantara Soleil

Some 3,000 families or 14,500 people including 3,100 children, especially those from minority groups in the north-eastern Ratanak Kiri will enjoy access to clean water and improved sanitation through a three-year project launched today at the province by the provincial authorities and Plan International Cambodia.

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Lasting from August 2014 to July 2017, the project will cover 35 villages, 29 primary schools, six communes in two districts in Ratanak Kiri province.

“Access to clean water and improved sanitation is not just a development intervention but the fulfilment of the right to survival, especially for children. Realization of this first and foremost right will open the gate for the next generations to enjoy other rights to become indispensible resource to further develop this beautiful province and beyond,” said Mr. Brian Beckett, Acting Director of Plan International Cambodia.

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Specialist Hang Hybunna shared that, “We anticipate no shortage of challenges, but with almost a decade of bold experiences in this area we strongly believe that we will achieve what we have planned in the project that will enable huge savings in health care costs and prevent unnecessary sickness and death. I am very sure that it will promote school attendance especially among girl students and reduce dropouts.”

Commune leader of Phnom Kok, one of the six target communes, Ly Roeun of Prov minority welcomes the need-based approach of the project that promotes awareness and positive behaviour.

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He said: “I fully support the development work that engages communities themselves. It is very important. For instance, we don’t properly educate people but provide slabs of squat latrine to them. They won’t use it. They don’t want it also because the latrine requires water and water is not easily accessible to our villagers.”

Cambodia Inter-Censal Population Survey 2013 reports that only 38.5% of rural population having access to improved sanitation facilities and 50% of rural people having access to improved water supply. As for Ratanak Kiri there is only 23% who have access to improved latrine and 38% who have access to improved water supply. About 77.8% of primary schools in rural areas, including those in Ratanak Kiri, have no access to improved water supply and 56.7% to improved sanitation facilities.

The lack and/ or poor water and sanitation facilities and personal hygiene practices are major causes of diarrhea death. According to Cambodia Demography and Health Survey 2010, diarrhea alone contributes to 17% death for the children aged under five years. Children living in Rattanak Kiri/Modulkiri are more susceptible to episodes of diarrhea (24%) than children living in other provinces.

The Royal Government of Cambodia considers the improvement of people’s health as key to develop the country’s sustainable human resource, society and economy.

 

For an in-depth feature story, click here

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