The Ministry of Rural Development formally declared Kampong Speu to be the fourth Cambodian province after Svay Rieng, Prey Veng and Kandal to achieve "Open Defecation Free" or ODF status, the culmination of 10 years of government efforts.

ODF status is an important public health and sanitation metric for developing countries and it indicates that all or nearly all of the region's population have regular access to toilets in their day-to-day lives.

At an April 3 ceremony, minister Ouk Rabun said that in the last 10 years, the rural areas of Cambodia have gone from 62 per cent without access to toilet facilities down to just 16 per cent by 2022.

He added that this success can be attributed to the support of stakeholders who have worked diligently at all levels to make progress on this issue. They have developed plans to achieve ODF and implement sanitation control systems. Communities have participated in the ODF movement, learned and exchanged experiences, and the vulnerable who needed help in this area have received the attention of the government.

“We achieved this ODF status and it is a great achievement, but there is still much work we have to do. We need to ensure that all households have access to toilets or latrines in order to achieve universal access to basic sanitation services and to maintain sustainable sanitation,” he continued.

He said everyone needs to go one step further to achieve safer sanitation management services and not only maintain the status quo of ODF status, but also ensure that all water and sanitation facilities are resistant to climate change impacts.

Provincial governor Vei Samnang said at the ceremony that in his province the overwhelming majority of the 195,406 households now have access to toilets.

“Baset district achieved ODF status in 2019, Chbar Mon town in 2021 and Kong Pisei, Odong, Oral, Phnom Sruoch, Samrong Tong and Thpong districts were ODF by the end of 2022,” he added.

He continued that just recently the province had received an ASEAN award for its work expanding access to toilets and improving sanitation services in Yeay Mao Pich Nil commune of Phnom Sruoch district.