A group of NGOs bagged eight tonnes of rubbish over two days to celebrate World Cleanup Day this year in four provinces. They said the purpose of the event was to urge people to care for the environment and fight climate change by better management of their waste.

The World Cleanup Day events were observed on September 18-19 and sponsored by River Ocean Cleanup in collaboration with Creal Cambodia, the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia, COMPED, OEOO and some private companies.

In a joint statement, they said even amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Cambodians need to continue cleaning up the environment and spreading the word about proper waste disposal to everyone in the country.

They said World Cleanup Day was being celebrated in 180 countries with a message this year about proper waste management and its role in reducing plastic waste in order to reduce demand for disposable plastic items which thereby helps lower carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming.

“We’re doing something to show that Cambodia is a part of the world and is helping tackle global environmental issues to reduce the risk of climate change,” said Nou Sovann, executive director of River Ocean Cleanup and director of Let’s Do It World-Asia.

“This year, we were very successful. Despite having the problems with Covid-19, people were inspired to help out anyway in the capital and the provinces of Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey and Kampong Chhnang. They have cleaned up the streets along the rivers and collected tonnes of rubbish,” he said.

“The problem of waste in Cambodia is very challenging as it is dumped all over the ground and we see that there are some problems relating to people’s awareness of waste disposal.

“So, we pick up old rubbish and store it properly or recycle or dispose of it properly so that it will not be polluting the outdoors,” he said.

Hour Chay Ngon, founder of Creal Cambodia, said the international campaign was to send a message to the people to properly dispose of rubbish and to avoid the dumping of waste in an untidy manner that negatively impacts the environment.

“It is a message to the people. We want them to take care of the environment and to dispose of rubbish properly. It is to instil awareness, increase knowledge and change behaviours relating to the environment,” he said.

He said his NGO had set up a team of about 150 people to clean up rubbish on the ground and along the river.

“First, Creal Cambodia was made up of between 120 and 150 members taking part in cleaning up the riverbank on the Chroy Changvar side of Phnom Penh. Among them, 120 members collected rubbish on the ground and the other 30 cleaned up the riverbank,” he said.

Ministry of Tourism spokesman Top Sopheak said the ministry had not organised a celebration this year due to Covid-19. He said that prior to the pandemic, the ministry had celebrated it by raising awareness to people about environmental protection and personal hygiene.