The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Rural Development on transport infrastructure, water supply and sanitation.

The aim is for universal access to clean water for remote Cambodians and the achievement of 100 per cent open defecation-free (ODF) status by 2025.

The collaboration was noted in a recent meeting between minister Chhay Rithisen, ADB vice-president for East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific Scott Morris, and ADB country director Jyotsana Varma.

During the meeting, Rithisen discussed the government’s Pentagonal Strategy-Phase I, presently underway at the ministry. The vision is to enhance the quality of life in rural areas, with a focus on economic, social and cultural inclusivity through four priority initiatives.

The primary focus is on developing physical infrastructure and transport to integrate rural areas, fostering economic growth and providing essential services. Next on the agenda is enhancing living conditions for these communities, aiming for dignity, health, hygiene and overall comfort.

The third focus is diversifying economic activities in rural communities through basic skills training for job creation and career development. This effort aims to enhance household income for inhabitants of remote areas.

The fourth objective is bolstering administrative and general support services to fortify institutions and governance at both national and sub-national levels, ensuring a commitment to serving rural communities with integrity and a high sense of responsibility.

“The ministry addresses challenges such as upgrading rural infrastructure, promoting hygiene education and fostering job creation for increased rural income,” Rithisen said.

Morris commended the Pentagonal Strategy, stating the bank’s commitment to collaborate with the ministry to bring increased benefits to the people of Cambodia. 

“The ADB is committed to further cooperating with the ministry, especially in transport infrastructure, water supply and rural sanitation,” he said.

Ministry spokesperson Pit Karuna confirmed 85 per cent coverage nationwide in clean water supply and sanitation, while noting that Svay Rieng, Prey Veng, Kandal, Kampong Speu, Kampong Chhnang and Kep provinces have earned ODF status.

“The ministry has prioritised sanitation and water supply, ensuring access to clean water and promoting health awareness in rural areas. This initiative aims for improved sanitation, including the provision of toilets for all households and putting an end to open defecation,” he said.