Kampong Speu province will announce formally in February that it has achieved Open Defecation Free (ODF) status, after evaluations were completed late last year. The announcement will make the province the fourth in Cambodia to reach the benchmark.

Governor Vei Samnang told The Post on January 4 that the provincial administration and relevant ministries have not yet made a formal announcement because it took time for them to make preparations.

“We achieved [ODF] earlier but could not organise a formal ceremony due to Covid-19 concerns,” he added.

According to the Strategy and Action Plan 2019-2023 outlined by the Ministry of Rural Development, five provinces were the targets for ODF status: Svay Rieng, Prey Veng, Kampong Speu, Kampong Chhnang and Kep.

In 2022, Svay Rieng, Prey Veng and Kandal provinces achieved the ODF benchmark, despite Kandal not being part of the ministry’s plans.

Plan International Cambodia deputy country director Yi Kim Than told The Post that his organisation had worked with the ministry’s department of healthcare to assess the hygienic situation of Kampong Speu province.

“I have no doubt that the province will be declared ODF in February,” he said.

He added that he expected Kampong Chhnang and Kep provinces to be added to the list in a matter of months.

“Plan International Cambodia will continue to help the ministry through three additional projects in Siem Reap, Stung Treng and Ratanakkiri. We will do whatever it takes to make these provinces achieve ODF status,” he concluded.

Chim Charanay, an adviser to the ministry, told The Post that the government regards access to clean drinking water and hygienic toilets as crucial parts to saving lives.

He said the ministry would continue to monitor the progress of other provinces after Kampong Speu reaches the ODF benchmark.

The ministry had plans to achieve 90 per cent sanitation coverage in rural Cambodia by the end of 2023, he added.