by Mom Chantara Soleil and Yoeun Phary
Home to almost 60,000 Cambodians, Svay Teab district of South-eastern Svay Rieng province outdoes its peers across the Kingdom in terms of promoting household latrine use. As it will soon claim itself as Cambodia’s second district with open defecation free, a high-level visit has been organised to see its exemplary performance.
Ministry of Rural Development, Plan International Cambodia and local partners – key catalysts behind Svay Teab’s achievement through the implementation of the so-called Cambodia Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Improvement Programme (#CRSHIP) – hosted the visit intending to bring the post-project implementation impacts of the sanitation intervention to light so as the rest can follow the footsteps.
A delegation of Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Yim Chhay Ly and concerned government bodies including Council for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD), senior leadership of CRSHIP-funder the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) and Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), and representatives from other development partners joined the visit.
“Access to sanitation is economically and socially important. While working hard to achieve national commitments in terms of rural sanitation and hygiene promotion, Cambodia also aligns our work with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations,” underlined H.E. Yim Chhay Ly during the visit.
Globally, diarrheal disease is the second leading cause of death among children under five years old. Sanitation contributes significantly to child nutrition as well as their physical growth and cognitive development.
One fifth of Cambodia’s child mortality is caused by diarrheal infections mainly driven by poor sanitation and the practice of open defecation. Diarrhea affects small children most.
According to the Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey 2014, in Cambodia more than 32% of children under five years old are stunted, 24% underweight, and 10% wasted.
Cambodia Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Improvement Programme is one of the main solutions to address the said issues. During its first phrase implementation, known as CRSHIP1, from 2011-2015, over 600,000 people (about 50% of them are children) especially those poverty stricken and live remote communities, have successfully adopted the use of latrines.
When CRSHIP1 ended in April 2016 the programme freed 756 villages, to be exact, in Takeo, Kandal, Kampong Speu, Kampong Cham and Svay Rieng from open defecation and villagers habituated better personal hygiene.
After the programme phase-out and remaining commitment was handed over to Provincial Department of Rural Development, use of household latrine and open-defecation free space continues to expand. The case of Svay Teab is the best example for this.
“We are not only promoting the construction of household latrines, but also empowering rural communities to see the link between sanitation and health, to adopt positive behavior and to invest more to promote sustainable sanitation and hygiene,” WSSCC’s Executive Director Chris Williams who also attended the visit, adding that he is very proud of Cambodia’s participatory approach and achievement.
Cambodia Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Improvement Programme is undergoing its second phase, called CRSHIP2, covering another five provinces of Cambodia: Kampot, Prey Veng, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Thom, and Kratie – where sanitation access is deprived most. More impacts of the work using community led total sanitation (CLTS) approach are being made.
The Royal Government of Cambodia through the Ministry of Rural Development along with development partners has made remarkable progress in the area. As a result, nearly half of rural Cambodians are now having access to improved sanitation, compared to only 11% in 1990.
CRSHIP is committed to join hands with the government to reach its goal of ensuring 60% of Cambodians with access to improved sanitation across the country by 2018.
It is anticipated that the high-level visit on Oct. 25-26 to witness outstanding performance of Svay Teab district will further encourage stronger participation among all stakeholders, including the indispensable power to voice the issues and to educate the public of the media, in order to fasten the realisation of open-defecation free Cambodia.