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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Poor hygiene still a mounting problem

Poor hygiene still a mounting problem

FEWER people in Cambodia have access to adequate sanitation facilities than in any other Southeast Asian country, according to a new report from the Ministry of Rural Development.

Only 29 percent of Cambodians had access to sanitation facilities as of 2008, said the report released on Monday, which draws on figures from the World Health Organisation and the UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation.

By comparison, 96 percent of people in Thailand, 75 percent in Vietnam and 53 percent in Laos had access to such facilities, according to the JMP 2010 report, which was released in March.

Furthermore, 67 percent of Cambodians living in urban areas had access to sanitation facilities in 2008, compared with only 18 percent of people in rural areas.

Chea Samnang, director of the Rural Development Ministry’s Department of Rural Heath, said on Monday that the number of toilets in the Kingdom’s rural areas was increasing at about 2 percent annually. “We see it is increasing, but it is so slow.”

He said he did not believe that the lack of progress in rural areas could be attributed to poverty levels, arguing that many people who did not own a toilet, which would cost around US$20-30, owned other “modern electrical items” such as motorbikes or telephones.

They Chanto, hygiene promotion officer at the ministry’s Rural Hygiene Education Office, said that a substantial number of Cambodians defecated in the open, and that about “3,000 fresh stools were scattered into the environment each day”.

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