Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sanitation check-up



Sanitation check-up

Children wash their hands at a playground tap at a primary school in Phnom Penh last year
Children wash their hands at a playground tap at a primary school in Phnom Penh last year. Vireak Mai

Sanitation check-up

The Ministry of Education will ask government schools to provide information on toilet numbers, fresh water supply and vegetable gardens as part of efforts to tackle poor sanitation and nutrition discouraging students from attending class.

The national survey, announced yesterday, would be used to identify where improvements were most needed, said Minister for Education Hang Chuon Noron.

“If there are no toilets, students will easily drop their classes, especially girls,” he said. “Between 20 per cent to 30 per cent of schools have no access to toilets.”

According to UNICEF, lack of water and sanitation is one of the biggest issues affecting the health of children across Cambodia, with many denied the “simple dignity” of using a toilet and washing their hands with soap.

As well as addressing sanitation by increasing the number of toilets, improving water access and encouraging hand washing, Noron said the ministry would provide schools with a vegetable garden to boost students’ nutrition.

“If any school doesn’t have [facilities], we will find support for them,” he said.

With 11 toilets for more than 1,000 students, Kandal’s Hun Sen Thnal Totoeng High School is among schools suffering from a lack of facilities.

“It’s just not enough for kids to use,” former director Sar Meng, now an official in Kandal’s Ang Snoul district, said.

“They easily drop class if they don’t have toilets, and it’s not clean at all, but our kids are helping each other to clean [the toilets].”

Even worse, however, is the situation at Hun Sen Taing Kork High School in Kampong Thom’s Baray district, where 1,063 students share five toilets and one well for water.

School director Ieng Bunhan said the school was forced to restrict lavatory use to girls only.

“Men can use trees for peeing instead, because we don’t have enough toilets,” he said.

Bunhan added his school had a vegetable garden but it was not running well.

“We don’t have a fence at school to protect our plantation,” he said.

According to World Bank statistics, 75 per cent of rural Cambodians lacked access to hygienic toilets, with 66 per cent practicing open defecation. Among the consequences are high rates of diarrhoea, skin disease, respiratory illness such as pneumonia, and intestinal and other waterborne disease.

Diarrhoeal diseases alone account for one fifth of the deaths of children aged 5 and under and an estimated 10,000 overall deaths annually, according to UNICEF figures.

The survey, sent to both state primary and secondary schools, must be submitted by March, Naron said.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement