A new US$10.9 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will fund a three-year project by international development NGO East Meets West (EMW) to improve sanitation and hygiene among the poor in rural Cambodia and Vietnam.
According to EMW, the program seeks to combat the negative effects of open defecation and poor hygiene by financing the construction of latrines and hand-washing devices and by offering community-based hygiene education.
The need for such a program is dire in a country where about 80 per cent of households have no sanitation facilities, leading to thousands of deaths each year, EMW said in a statement.
The grant is the first from the Gates Foundation to support a results-based approach to sanitation.
The program will operate by first investing in sanitation projects among rural families.
Partners for the project in Cambodia include the Cambodian Women for Peace and Development, Kampot Province’s Department of Rural Development and the Ministry of Rural Development.
Seang Keang, deputy director of Kampot’s rural development department, said families in rural areas rarely have their own latrines, but that’s changing.
“In rural areas, the norm is open defecation, but nowadays, people understand the health consequences of this practice and have begun to install latrines for each family,” he said.
EMW hopes to encourage this trend and will specifically target families making less than US$2 per day.
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