Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Millions still lack safe water

Millions still lack safe water

A young woman pumps water into containers at a well in Koh Kong province earlier this year
A young woman pumps water into containers at a well in Koh Kong province earlier this year. Heng Chivoan

Millions still lack safe water

More than a third of Cambodians lack access to safe water, leading to poor levels of sanitation and hygiene and high rates of water-borne disease, according to a statement from Unicef.

Young children are especially vulnerable, the statement released today to mark World Water Day said, adding that about 3.9 million people who do not have access to safe drinking water are impoverished and living in rural areas.

“Attention to rural water supply, sanitation and hygiene will unquestionably deliver results – less child deaths, better learning at school, less disease, more productive workers, less health costs for the people and the system,” Rana Flowers, Unicef representative to Cambodia, said in the statement.

“The sector requires substantial investment . . . and strengthened commitment and inter-ministerial collaboration at both national and local levels,” she went on to say.

Unicef also made the case for increasing investment in clean water by claiming the health impacts, particularly treating diarrhea, the leading cause of infant mortality in the country, was costing the government $146 million per year.

Officials at the Ministry of Health could not be reached.

Sophary Phan, a technical officer at the World Health Organization Cambodia, said that the government should improve water supply facilities and existing infrastructure, use more up-to-date technology and work more closely with private companies.

Lin McLennan, program manager at local NGO Watershed, said that “Cambodia’s fortunate in some respects. The issue is the quality of the water”.

“We think there a lot of opportunities to engage with the private sector. People are trying to aim more at the poor and vulnerable, but people have got used to subsidised water.”

Touch Khon, a representative of the Phnom Bath community who were evicted from Borei Keila in 2012, said the government had promised them water at the relocation site, but they still relied on store-bought water and unclean sources.

“The authorities came to tell us three months ago, that they will make a clean water system to connect into our new village. But until now, we have no clean water,” he said.

“The water from the pump [is not clean]. We buy big bottles [of water] for cooking for 500 riel (12 cents). I want the government and company that brought us here to improve the water supply and electricity. Sometimes, when the people drink the water, they get diarrhea.”

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,