Toilet Angels' divine hygiene intervention

Toilet Angels' divine hygiene intervention

THOMAS Crapper, the legendary 19th century English toilet manufacturer, would have approved of Phnom Penh’s newest public facilities. The modern two-storey structure on the river near Chaktomuk Theatre was funded by the South Korea-based World Toilet Association (WTA).

In addition to the open-air roof terrace, it has an air-conditioned tourist information space with computer terminals and a wall-mounted flat screen TV. As well as providing local people and foreign visitors with clean facilities, the new building also aims to help raise awareness about the importance of proper toilets in Cambodia.

Based on the fact they are often alluded to indirectly – “going to the bathroom”, “using the facilities” – toilets seem to have become something of a taboo in everyday parlance. This is also reflected in international organisations where toilets are eclipsed by broader social issues such as public health.

According to Jan-William Rosenboom from World Bank Water and Sanitation Program Cambodia, rural or urban sanitation is barely mentioned in the National Strategic Development Plan and receives no budget.

“Diarrhoea – mostly caused by inadequate hygiene, sanitation and water supplies – kills 11,000 Cambodians every year. [This is] more than are killed by AIDS, TB and malaria combined,” he said. According to Rosenboom, the lack of sanitation accounts for US$448 million per year in health, water and pollution costs, lost tourism and other welfare costs in the country.

However, the WTA pilot project on the riverfront seems like a step in a positive direction. The 13 toilets on the ground floor are surprisingly clean and well maintained by a local attendant. According to the attendant, the toilets are used mostly at weekends by up to 60 Khmer and 20 foreigners a day. It still has some way to go to reach the projected number of 40,000 users, but then the building only opened less than three months ago.

The first floor tourist information space seems yet to have found its purpose, too. The computer terminals – set up by the Ministry of Tourism – are not connected and the “information” consists mainly of a number of outdated free magazines and advertising leaflets for some hotels and restaurants.

However, if you install yourself on the roof terrace with a free copy of WTA’s publication, Toilet Angel, you can read all about how toilets “are the hope and happiness for mankind”. Crapper couldn’t have expressed it better himself.

MOST VIEWED

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy has been invited to speak at the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, according to a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker. A government delegation is also set to attend the meeting, a National Assembly press release