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Press Release: Cambodia Emerges as Sanitation Role Model for Other Developing Countries - 19 Aug 2016

August 19, 2016

For Immediate Release: August 22, 2016

Contact: Yi Wei, Director of Global WASH

Cambodia Emerges as Sanitation Role Model
for Other Developing Countries

A team of sanitation experts from Ghana will travel to Cambodia to learn about the rapid improvements that are happening in rural sanitation in this country. 

According to the Cambodian Ministry of Rural Development’s National Action Plan for Rural Sanitation, the number of people with access to a toilet in rural areas grew sluggishly at only 1.2% each year until 2010. Since that time, the growth rate has increased nearly four times to 4.3% per year.

“This is because of increased activity by the government, donors, and the private sector,” said Michael Roberts, Country Director of iDE, an NGO that promotes toilet use in rural Cambodia.  “By far, the biggest growth has been in areas where toilets have not been given away but where local businesses have been supported to sell and install latrines that people can afford.”

This new method for improving sanitation is part of a larger movement toward market-based solutions to poverty issues, explains Michel Dauguet, Director of iDE’s Sanitation Marketing Scale Up Program in Cambodia. In this program, sales agents conduct group meetings and door-to-door visits to help rural families weigh the costs of buying a toilet versus continuing to defecate in open fields. Orders are directed to local businesses who build and install the toilets. “We have trained more than 300 small businesses in seven provinces to manufacture and install a simple but sanitary toilet that costs people only $55”, says Dauguet. More than one million rural Cambodians have benefited from the program to date.

The team of Ghanaian sanitation experts will study the operations of sanitation marketing projects in Cambodia, and apply what they learn in Ghana. Valarie Labi-Okudzeto, WASH Director for iDE Ghana, shared, “the Cambodia program is unprecedented worldwide in terms of its scale, cost effectiveness and sustainability. My team hopes to observe how the program builds local supplier’s manufacturing skills and educates villagers about open defecation.”

Despite the recent gains in sanitation, there is still a long way to go. The most recent UNICEF and WHO data show only 30% of rural households with access to an improved toilet in Cambodia and globally, more than 2.7 billion people are still without adequate sanitation. According to UNICEF, the lack of clean water and sanitation is one of the biggest issues affecting the health of children across Cambodia.

However, with the help of promising approaches like sanitation marketing, Cambodia is on track to reach its goal of 100% toilet access by 2025. Small-scale sanitation businesses can still face numerous obstacles, explains Chrey Pom, Director of the Department of Rural Health Care of the Ministry of Rural Development, but “sanitation marketing interventions…address those limitations and promote sustainable rural sanitation services.

About iDE: iDE is an international non-profit organization dedicated to creating income and livelihood opportunities for the rural poor. As one of the first organizations to unlock the power of markets to fight poverty, iDE is a pioneer.  Today, market-based development is widely recognized as a sustainable, scaleable, cost-effective approach to alleviate poverty. iDE has impacted more than 23 million people globally to date through its WASH and Agriculture Initiatives, and has an ambitious plan to double that number by 2020. iDE works in Africa, Asia, and Central America, with a longstanding presence in 11 countries.