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Minister: Half of villages lack clean water access

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Garment workers wash their baby’s hands in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district in May. Heng Chivoan

Minister: Half of villages lack clean water access

About 50 per cent of villages across Cambodia still lack access to clean water due to factors like climate change, population growth and urban development, which have led to a steady increase in water demands, according to Minister of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation Cham Prasidh.

Prasidh mentioned these water woes during an online meeting held last week to evaluate projects resulting from cooperation between the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in the period from 2011 to 2020.

He said that due to the challenges arising from those factors, the ministry has been considering implementing a number of policies such as encouraging water operators with financial capacity and sufficient water resources to expand their water supply capacity and water supply network, including sales of ice to areas facing chronic water shortages.

He said the ministry has been implementing policies to support poor families through water subsidies, as well as through support for public-private water partnerships.

“According to a recent study, we found that about 50 per cent of the villages in Cambodia do not yet have a clean water supply, so we need to make more efforts to find a solution in order to achieve the water supply policy of the government to achieve a 100 per cent clean water supply for the residents of our cities by 2025,” he said.

He said that more funding is needed to support water operators expansion of their supplies and capacities in their service areas.

He noted that the ministry is preparing a draft law that governs clean water supply, which will contribute significantly to the development of the water sector as well as establish coordination mechanisms to expand the scope of the nation’s water supply to everyone.

Srinivasan Palle Venkata, head of the ADB delegation attending the meeting, said that the ADB wished to see the effectiveness and efficiency of their support for the Cambodian water sector and would be looking into the strengths and weaknesses of the current approaches to see what else can be done to help the ministry achieve that goal.

Prasidh said the ADB’s water policy is in line with the government policy of providing clean water to all urban residents by 2025 but in order to achieve that they needed consistent support from development partners.

Prasidh said that the ministry is implementing two ADB-supported projects, including the Urban Water Supply Project and Provincial Water Supply and Sanitation Project. Both projects are progressing forward despite some reported problems.

Ung Samuth, a farmer in Khlang Meas commune’s Prey Preal village of Battambang province’s Bavel district, told The Post that in the commune where she lives there is no clean water or even a water source to use on their crops.

“In my community there is not enough water for everyone to use,” she said. “Every year from March to July there is no water and we have to buy pond water or well-water from other villages to use.”

She said she’d like to see the national or provincial government or an international organization help restore ponds and wells in communities like hers.

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