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Low rating in environment policy index

CAMBODIA’S environmental policies are the worst in the Asia Pacific region, according to a new global report that placed the Kingdom at number 148 of 163 countries.

The 2010 Environment Performance Index (EPI), compiled by researchers at Yale and Columbia universities in the US, quantifies the environmental impacts of a country’s policies by assessing 25 factors, and then assigns each country a corresponding value of zero to 100, with 100 the most positive rating.

Cambodia received an overall EPI rating of 41.7. Its lowest ratings came in the areas of environmental burden of disease (27.8) and environmental health (28.8), whereas it fared better in the areas of agriculture (54.6), fisheries (50) and forestry (48.9).

The Kingdom scored well in the areas of biodiversity and habitat (81.7) and the effects of water on ecosystems (95).

The new ratings, released late last month, represented a drop from the last EPI, released in 2008. That year, Cambodia earned an overall EPI of 53.8 and ranked 136th worldwide.

Cambodia scored extremely low in the sub-categories of indoor air pollution (4.2) and water sanitation (19.2).

According to the Ministry of Health, cholera and acute watery diarrhoea deaths this year in a handful of provinces have been caused by the consumption of unclean water.

Hilda Winarta, a water, sanitation and hygiene specialist at Unicef, said Monday that the most recent census figures indicate that “access to improved drinking water sources was 42 percent in rural areas”. She added that poor water quality could lead to diarrhoea, which was the second most common cause of death for children under the age of 5.

Tin Ponlok, project coordinator at the Environment Ministry, said Monday he was unaware of the report, but that the ministry would release its own environmental assessment later this month.

Prach Sun, a secretary of state at the ministry, also said he had not seen the report, but added that reports produced abroad generally do not match government data.

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