Water and Sanitation


Sanitation facility is available for 81.40 percent of the urban households and only 23.24 percent of the rural households in Cambodia as of 2008 National Population Census. Diarrhea mostly caused by inadequate hygiene, sanitation and water supplies – kills around 11,000 Cambodians every year which is more than people are killed by AIDS, TB and Malaria combined. About 60 percent of people in Cambodia do not have access to a safe water source.

Even more may lack consistent access to microbiologically safe water at the point of use. Water-related diseases are a major public health issue. The 2005 Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey found that 20 percent of children under age five had experienced diarrhea in the preceding two weeks. Lack of knowledge and hence, improper water and sanitation attitude and practices is huge in almost every house.

Responses of Muslim Aid Cambodia

Muslim Aid already has created a good standing in water supply and sanitation sector in Cambodia. Out of MA-UK fund it effectively piloted two sanitation projects at five villages under Takeo, Kg Thom, and Kg Cham provinces with smart subsidy for poor and vulnerable families and environment-friendly latrine. All those target villages achieved 100% ODF status. Beside the above MA-UK funded water sanitation projects, our team successfully delivered two AusAID supported Water, Sanitation and Hygiene improvement projects in 2008 and 2009. Nine villages under five different communes at Takoe province got full access to safe drinking water through installation of Combined Water-Wells and also achieving ODF status through a combination of both CLTS and smart subsidy

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I.    Combined water-wells a common but convenient access to safe water in the village.

II.   Rural sanitation through smart subsidy and non-subsidy approaches.

III. Community awareness on water, sanitation, health and hygiene.

Australian Government’s  Appreciation

The Ambassador of Australian Embassy, Excellency Margaret Adamson handed over a Certificate of Appreciation to Muslim Aid Cambodia field office for it’s valuable contribution and outstanding delivery of water, sanitation and hygiene improvement programmes at Takeo province by efficient using of AusAID Community Development Fund in the year 2008 and 2009.

We met many of the village dwellers, who were keen to tell us about the difference the program had made to their daily lives. I was particularly pleased to hear from village girls who told us of their ambition to progress through school in order to qualify to become teachers and return to work in their own community. They will be wonderful role models for the younger children.– H.E Margaret Adamson.

AusAID supported Combined Water Wells at Takeo

In 2008, MAC implemented a rural water-supply, health and hygiene improvement project at four villages of Takeo province with the support from AusAID community development fund. 30 Combined Water Wells were installed in the target communities where initial planning was 25, but more 5 wells were installed with the residue fund. 30 Water User Groups (WUG) consisting of 20 household heads were formed in each community. 30 Sub-Water Point Committees (SWPC)

consisting three members including one woman in each and Four Water Point Committees (WPC) consisting of five members including two women in each committee were formed. Comprehensive trainings at four locations were conducted for each committee on safe water usage, health, hygiene and on the well maintenance. At least 600 families got the easy access to safe water and improved knowledge and motivation on hygiene and safe water.

Rural sanitation improvement intervention at Takeo province

MAC successfully delivered the AusAID supported sanitation and hygiene improvement project with the best benefits to the target populations by changing their knowledge, attitude and practices. This project also drew greater attention of the other actors by arranging national workshop and it’s result oriented mixed approach (Community Led Total Sanitation and smart-subsidy).The project strategies were provision of full access to latrine facilities to the selected households and educating and raising community awareness on health issues in relation to water and sanitation. At the end of the project, 372 latrines had been subsidized in nine villages, benefiting some 1107 female and 1845 males. Poor and most vulnerable families, especially the female headed households and, or the households with disable persons were selected as recipient of latrine (ground part) subsidy which is 23% of the total households in the target villages. Another 25% of households purchased their latrines of their own during the project period due to motivational awareness raising and access to the supply of latrine hardware in the village.  Following chart shows the key area of changes could be made among the targeted villages:

Spot Opinion

Mrs. Yem Kimyorn (38) at Smrong village: “Before my children used to get diarrhea, fever, cold, cough. I understood that we did not have the habit of proper sanitation & hygiene practices. We never had a latrine in our house and it was difficult for us especially in the rainy season to defecate in the forest. Through our hands, cattle, dog, fly, and children, those faces can come to our food and we get sick. Now we have latrine and we all use it properly. From MAC staff all my family members learned the importance of sanitation and hygiene practice”  I received the latrine free but of my own money I made my latrine’s shed stronger than my house even. If my latrine is damaged by flood or storm,

I will re-build it by myself because now we are happy to defecate in the latrine and can not do it again in jungle”.

Key Features of the Approach:
  • Clean Friday Movement – through Religious Leaders/ Imam/ Hakim for improved sanitation and hygiene practices;
  • Street Drama on WASH – played by children
  • Yard Meeting – involving women;
  • Sanitation hardware demand Creation though CLTS campaign and social marketing;
  • Sanitation hardware production/supply in the village through technology transfer and microfinance;
  • Community participation and work closely with local and existing development committees;
Lessons Learned
  • Target villagers health is gradually improving;
  • Benefited villagers are becoming self-mediators/ Social Advocates
  • Minority people are not open enough and they have different mind-set up towards sanitation and hygiene practices;
  • Sanitation scaling up is a slow going process in non-subsidy approach;
  • Villagers like pour flash latrine and wait until they afford to build a good one.
  • The project model, specially the Clean Friday Movement is replicable among the Buddhist and ethnic minorities.
Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Improvement – An Innovative Approach in Cambodia.

MAC executed an innovative sanitation improvement project at Kampong Cham province from July 2009 to June 2010 with technical and financial supports from DRHC/MRD and UNICEF. The ultimate goal of the project was to improve the rural sanitation and hygiene practices using religious values and replicate the model in mainstream society. The challenge was to increase the rural interest in sanitation, reduce diarrhea and develop a sustainable sanitation service that is not distorted by a direct subsidy, let alone community participation. MAC successfully piloted the approach among around 6,000 minority Cham populations at Toul Punley, Rongkor, Cheas villages under Thmor Pich Commune and Propath, and Tropieng Kla Village under Rokar Pram Commune of the district Tbong Khmum at Kampong Cham province.

In this pilot project, MAC initiated a non-subsidy based construction of sanitation facilities by using it’s interest free microfinance program with successful result. MAC somehow implemented a different approach for this project, where loan was given to the latrine producers to inject an initial capital to provide affordable latrines to the communities. Latrine producers were encouraged and trained free of charge to produce a range of designs, to meet the different financial capacity among the community.

How Muslim Aid worked in the target community:
  1. All the community members (men, women and children) were targeted and played a role to some extent in the project success.
  2. Initially, BCC materials were developed through a national level workshop. The dissemination process was used in a unique approach. The first phase of the project involved the Mufti (the highest body of Islamic religious affairs in Cambodia) and the local hakim (Muslim scholar) to extend the message of sanitation and hygiene using Islamic values stated in the holy books. He delivered the sermon using the Friday ritual service where most Muslim men attend this ritual held in the mosque, before the Imam lead a communal prayer. Friday prayer (also known as Jumáh) is a congregational prayer (shalat) that Muslims hold every Friday on the noon-time. When the messages were disseminated, a campaign-by-doing activity was conducted, which was called as CLEAN FRIDAY MOVEMENT. This was based on the Islamic belief that cleanliness is a part of faith and is aimed at the entire community. This movement was a massive campaign to stop open defecation and to keep clean the rural environment (houses, toilets, yards, cowshed, roads, and poultry-sheds).
  3. The information dissemination to women who couldn’t join the campaign was also carried out through regular yard-meeting specialized for women.
  4. Children were encouraged to play in a drama, to promote cleanness, bad practices in sanitizing, health, and other issue. The attractions were held at the mosque yard where all community members come together. The best thing about the play was that children brought the lessons home about water, sanitation and hygiene. The little actors are becoming leaders, learning to communicate clearly and effectively. People love drama, and parents especially love to see their children performing. It was an innovative way than telling people to just change the way they do things.
  5. This was not a subsidy-driven program, and strictly to promote and raise awareness of sanitation, health and hygiene improvement. MAC only supported the installation of public announcement, sanitation, health and hygiene campaign fliers, posters, and public signs.
  6. Muslim Aid worked closely with the existing local development committees. Those committee members were encouraged to be responsible for sanitation; health and hygiene issue in the future, regarding the sustainability of the program, supporting other member in the community, and become focal point to external institute and government.
  7. After having sessions of sanitation and hygiene promotion and awareness-raising through various means, it was found that the demand for sanitation facility in the target villages has been created. The building of sanitation facilities used to few cases with unique microfinance mechanism where not the beneficiary was provided with interest-free loan, instead that loan was given to local latrine producers to inject an initial capital to provide affordable latrines to the communities. Latrine producers were encouraged and trained free-of-charge to produce a range of designs, to meet the different financial capacity among the community. MAC also actively promoted other hygiene behavior change by marketing a wide range of complementary products such as soap, toothpaste, and other cleaning materials.
  8. Beneficiaries were given range of sanitation facilities’ designs and prices, rather than a single high-price model for sanitation facility.
  9. This approach (religious values mainstream) can be sustained for a long time, and replicated among any other religious group in other locations in Cambodia.
MAC Observed the Global Hand Washing Day

On 15 October, 2009, MAC observed the global hand washing day at Bun Rany – Hun Sen High School, Memut district, Kampong Cham province along with the Ministry of Rural Development. Hand washing demonstration, mass-signature collection, soap distribution, sanitation quiz and drawing competition, community awareness raising were the key events of the day.

Future Directions

MAC will work more closely with MRD and continue it’s successful Water-Sanitation models, integrating hardware (drilling wells, providing latrines) with software (community hygiene awareness and behavioral change, including Clean Fridays, school campaigns, yard meetings).

So far as is possible, it will integrate this in areas where it’s micro-finance, rainbow-family and skills training programmes exist; as among the poor health undermines family finances, and women who are tending sick children are less able to run successful SMEs and micro-enterprise.

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