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Investing in Safe Water and Sanitation

Like time, efforts to promote safe water and sanitation in high-land Ratanak Kiri province progresses, and will continue to do so in 2016. Optimism is based on efforts to ensure water and sanitation is accessible in schools and communities in the suburban Oh Chum district.

A joint commitment between the Provincial Development of Rural Development, Plan International and Unicef, that officially launched in mid-January, will liberate over 2,000 families or some 10,880 people (about 51% female), ten schools and around 1,000 students from safe water and sanitation deprivation.

According to Chhim Chan Sovanna from the Rural Health Care Department, Ministry of Rural Development, a large proportion of diseases in Ratanak Kiri province in Cambodia are water-borne, which is caused by a lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

About 16% of children living in Ratanak Kiri are susceptible to episodes of diarrhoea which is higher than children living in other provinces of Cambodia.

Investing in water and sanitation

A study by the World Bank suggests that one dollar ($1 USD) spent on improving sanitation and hygiene can generate nine dollars ($9 USD) of benefits to the national economy. In other words, investing water, sanitation and hygiene promotion brings massive savings in health care costs and averting sickness and death. It also improves school attendance and enables children, especially girls, to stay at school and finish their education.

The Cambodia Inter-Censal Population Survey 2014 reports that about 46% of the rural population have access to improved sanitation and 51% of rural people have access to improved water supply.

Showing lower figures, however, in Ratanak Kiri, around 22% of the population have access to improved latrines and 51% have access to improved water supply.

Approximately 78% of primary schools in rural areas, including those in Ratanak Kiri, have no access to improved water supply.

Adopting new behaviours

The project, which began in mid-January and will last for approximately 15 months, is being funded through Plan International USA and Unicef.

In addition to the construction of latrines and water points, "our aim is that at the end of the day, targeted adults and children in our communities and at schools will start using toilets, wash their hands with soaps at critical times, and drink treated water and ensure safe storage of the water,” said Water Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist Hang Hybunna.

Watch this video to learn more about Plan International Cambodia's efforts to support children and families with toilets and clean water supplies.