The Ministry of Rural Development, UNICEF and NGO Plan International Cambodia on Monday launched a new project to improve access to sanitation for 2,000 families in Ratanakkiri province.
Fewer than a quarter of Ratanakkiri residents have access to latrines, and that number actually shrank slightly during the past three years, said Hang Hybunna, a sanitation specialist at Plan. Many farmers move with the seasons and don’t bother to build latrines at their temporary residences, and the relatively large indigenous population generally doesn’t use soap for washing, he added.
What’s more, hygiene supplies can be twice as expensive as in other areas, discouraging people from using them.
The new program will train people in seven communes on the importance of latrines and techniques for building them. It will also set up easy-to-reach hygiene product vendors that charge reasonable prices, and repair some existing water lines.
Poor hygiene leads to widespread diarrhoea, a major driver of child mortality in the province, according to Plan. A 2011 paper by UNICEF found that a child born in Ratanakkiri is three times likelier to die than a child born in Phnom Penh.