The Kampong Chhnang provincial administration has laid out a plan to achieve open defecation free (ODF) status by March, with the work across the province approximately 95 per cent complete.

Provincial governor Sun Sovannarith told reporters that once the Ministry of Rural Development announced that the goal must be reached this year, the provincial administration and other stakeholders introduced a number of key strategies. They improved the local clean water and sanitation sector, while campaigning to encourage the villages and communes of the province to join it in its mission.

Kampong Chhnang province has one town and seven districts. Only Choul Kiri and Kampong Leng districts are yet to be considered ODF, although they are 70 per cent of the way to being awarded the status.

“Chulkiri and Kampong Leng districts are complex problems to solve, as many people live in floating houses – the area is usually flooded for six months of the year, so it is hard for them to install pour-flush toilets. In the past, most of them defecated into the water, but now we are asking them to build toilets on land and use those,” said Sovannarith.

He added that ending open defecation will improve the health of the province’s population, and thus the economy. In order to achieve its March goal, the administration and its partners are monitoring toilet construction across the province, especially in people’s homes.

Minister of Rural Development Ouk Rabun praised the efforts of the Kampong Chhnang provincial administration.

“Each province must pass an assessment – which is based on clear procedures and criteria from the National Commission – to be officially recognised as ODF,” he said.

According to the 2019 Cambodian Census of the ministry’s National Institute of Statistics, 82.83 per cent of Cambodian households had access to pour-flush toilets, with urban rates of 90.41 per cent and 78.31 per cent in rural areas.

Nearly 50 per cent of urban toilets are connected to a sewer system, while just 25 per cent of rural toilets are plumbed into a sewer line.