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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Access to sanitation, piped water lowest in the region

Access to sanitation, piped water lowest in the region

Cambodia is one of the least water-secure of the 49 countries in the Asia-Pacific — in the bottom of five tiers alongside Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Kiribati, Nauru, Pakistan and Tuvalu, a study published by the Asian Development Bank has found.

After weighing a broad range of factors, including water availability, sanitation and the capacity to cope with water-related natural disasters such as droughts and floods, ADB’s Asian Water Development Outlook 2013 identifies the state of water security in Cambodia as “hazardous”.

According to the report, access to piped water is available to only 17 per cent of Cambodian households — a rate lower than all but six     other countries in the study.

Access to piped water is higher for all of Cambodia’s neighbours, at 48 per cent of Thai households, 23 per cent of Vietnamese households and 20 per cent of Lao households, the study says.

Meanwhile, only Micronesia has lower access to sanitation. In Cambodia, just 31 per cent of households have access to toilets and waste-disposal systems that prevent contact with human excrement, the study indicates.

Noting that 88 per cent of diarrhoea cases worldwide have been attributed to lack of adequate access to water and sanitation, the report finds that only Afghanistan is more affected by diarrhoea than Cambodia, where it seriously affects, or contributes to the loss of life of, about 2,200 among every 100,000 people each year.

“For the countries with the highest urban growth rates — including Cambodia, Myanmar and Nepal — the chall-enges of extending piped water supply, waste-water treatment, and flood management infrastructure for their city populations are substantial,” the report says, noting that disparities between rich and poor communities’ access to sanitation are particularly high in Cambodia.

“Municipal authorities in rapidly urbanising towns and small cities often do not have the capacity to meet the demand for housing, leading to a proliferation of slums without, or at best with very poor, public services.”

Urging more government action towards clean water supply and management, the report praises the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority for exemplary water services but finds that even among urban areas more generally, access to piped water in Cambodia is still relatively low.

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