More than 30 percent of villagers do not have clean water

The Rural Development Ministry yesterday said more than 30 percent of the rural population in the Kingdom still do not have access to clean water.

During a ceremony to mark the 26th World Water Day in Phnom Penh yesterday, ministry secretary of state Nuon Danhiel said that only 68 percent of people living in rural communities have clean water to use.

“If treated water supply services are not increased, the number of people who have no clean water to use will increase significantly in the upcoming years, resulting in a rise in fatalities caused by drinking unsafe water,” he said.

Mr Danhiel said that in order to address the problem, the government has introduced a national policy on rural water supply and sanitation to provide all those living in rural communities with access to clean water and sanitation services by 2025.

Srin Puthy, the ministry’s Rural Water Supply Department director, yesterday said that Cambodia is rich in natural water sources, but there is still a small number of people living in rural areas who do not have year-long access to clean water.

“Surface water and groundwater are important sources for drinking, but surface water usually contains viruses that cause diarrhoea, while groundwater contains arsenic,” he said. “So we have to address water safety issues and focus on environmental issues that could seriously impact the quality of both surface water and groundwater.”

Mr Puthy also said that this year’s World Water Day celebration was themed “Every rural Cambodian must have access to clean water supply services” and that stakeholders at the event discussed various solutions to protect water sources and addressed problems such as flooding, droughts and water pollution.

San Seavnan, 18, a student from Banteay Meanchey province who attended the event, yesterday said her villagers do not have access to clean water and use water from a pond.

“Sometimes, some villagers who do not understand about hygiene, wash themselves near such water sources and some also defecate nearby,” she said. “So the water source may become contaminated with viruses which cause diarrhoea and other illnesses.”

“I want clean water services to reach the rural areas soon, including where I live, so that rural people can use clean water and stay safe from diseases,” she added.

Cristian Munduate, Unicef representative to Cambodia, yesterday said that climate change and the rise in temperatures this year, can affect the availability of clean water to use in Cambodia.

However, she said that the National Action Plan for 2019-2023 and the Sustainable Development Goals for clean water and sanitation programme shows the commitment of the government towards providing every citizen in rural communities with clean water and sanitation services by 2025.