The Ministry of Rural Development has officially recognised Kampong Chhnang town as the first district-level administrative region in the namesake province to achieve Open Defecation Free (ODF) status. This contributes significantly to the government’s goals on water supply and rural sanitation.

Provincial governor Sun Sovannarith said at the ceremony on May 17 that this result showed the close attention paid by the government to encouraging sub-national administrations to be more motivated in fulfilling their roles and responsibilities to improve the wellbeing and livelihoods of the public.

“Kampong Chhnang is officially recognised by the evaluation committee as the province’s first model town to achieve ODF status,” he said.

Sovannarith noted that the province has 23 communes and 219 villages that have been declared ODF.

Currently, 76 per cent of the population – or 106,898 households – of the province have access to clean water. And 80 per cent of the population has access to latrines.

“Organising the recognition ceremony of Kampong Chhnang town for its achievement will encourage clean water supplies and health and sanitation in the province to develop further. Expanding these goals to each one of the province’s villages, communes and districts will help us to achieve province-wide ODF status by 2023, as planned,” he said.

The governor called on the people of the province to participate more actively, starting with their own families and communities. They should be working to change their habits from open defecation to building toilets, be using clean water for cooking and washing, and be washing their hands with soap more frequently.

According to a brief report on the declaration, Kampong Chhnang town is one of the seven district-level administrative region and the only town in the province.

This town has a total area of 4,665sq km which is divided into four communes – equal to 26 villages. The population is 40,913, made up of 9,403 families living in 8,307 houses. About half of the population is under 18.

At the end of 2020, the town was selected by WaterAid – an international NGO operating in 34 countries – for implementation of rural sanitation and sanitation supply programmes.

At the beginning of the project, 87.4 per cent of the people had access to clean water, 89 per cent had access to latrines and 91 per cent washed their hands with soap.

The report said people realised the importance of defecating in toilets and had changed their habits. They now build toilets, drink clean water and wash their hands with soap.

Svay Rieng was declared the Kingdom’s first province to achieve 100 per cent ODF status by the rural development ministry.