Proper waste and solid waste management is a major challenge that could threaten the future of the rapidly growing tourism sector and broader economy, said stakeholders as they jointly committed to enhancing waste management in the urban and rural areas of Cambodia.

The pledge came at last week’s ASEAN Municipal Solid Waste Management Enhancement (AMUSE) planning workshop, which was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Environment, Germany’s international development agency GIZ, Siem Reap Provincial Administration and various state institutions, as well as development partners and tourism operators.

Ke Vong Vathana – deputy head of the environment ministry’s General Department of Administration for Nature Conservation and Protection – said solid waste, sanitation and water and quality were major environmental challenges.

He said the implementation of waste and solid waste management is one of the tasks which require improvement.

“Waste and solid waste management has become a priority task for the sub-national administrations, as it plays a vital role in enhancing beauty, public order and environmental quality. Each administration needs to clearly understand its role and responsibilities,” he said.

Siem Reap deputy provincial governor Khim Finan said the administration had laid out many plans to improve the beauty and sanitation of Siem Reap, one of the world’s most famous tourism towns.

“These principles include wider education about environmental laws and solid waste management, including a rubbish collection campaign.

“In addition to improving existing waste collection services,the administration has also planted new greenery, upgraded streetlights and improved the sewage treatment system,” he said.

Authorities have also imposed strict measures on those who encroach on the province’s natural protected areas.

According to Frank Jattke, head of the GIZ-ASEAN-Team in Cambodia, the project will be implemented in four target countries across ASEAN – Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand – for four years. The projected budget is more than $6.5 million.

“The programme will focus on four areas: easing pressure on existing public systems; reducing environmental impacts; including waste management into national laws and strategies; and ensuring attractive tourist areas that benefit local economies,” he added.

The workshop’s attendees announced unanimously that they would support the implementation of the project.