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

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration