Kep becomes sixth open defecation free province

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The celebration of Kep’s ODF status on August 15. Rural Development Ministry

Kep province has become the sixth in Cambodia to be formally declared open defecation free (ODF), joining Svay Rieng, Prey Veng, Kandal, Kampong Speu and Kampong Chhnang.

On August 15, the Ministry of Rural Development and the provincial administration celebrated the occasion with a ceremony in Kep town.

Rural development minister Ouk Rabun noted at the ceremony that the Kingdom’s sanitation rate has climbed to more than 80 per cent, with 7,059 villages, 545 communes and 46 districts having achieved ODF status.

He lauded the successful implementation of the ministry’s National Action Plan on Water Supply and Rural Sanitation Promotion Phase 1 2014-2018, which exeeded its set targets. The ministry is currently rolling out Phase II, 2019-2023, and hopes to achieve 90 per cent coverage by the end of the year.

The declaration of Kep as ODF means that every dwelling in the province has access to toilets, whether in the homes themselves or shared.

He said the positive news reflected the participation and efforts of the whole province, including authorities at all levels, as well as developmental partners.

“This success comes from the motivated involvement of leaders at all levels, as well as the participation of the public. It is also due to the fact that we have established effective and coordinated mechanisms at both the national and sub-national levels in the field of water supply and sanitation, as well as the participation of local and international NGOs, development partners and the private sector,” he added.

Kep governor Som Piseth noted that of the province’s 9,275 homes, 8,848 – or 96 per cent – have personal toilets.

“There are 294 households using shared toilets, and 133 migrant households. A technical team worked with the national working group to verify the province’s ODF status, and determined it was accurate on June 22,” he said.

He explained that Kep’s water supply included a total of 735 pump wells, 786 wells, 150 community ponds, 1,002 irrigation ponds, two small community water distribution systems and two larger ones run by private businesses.

The government set the vision of the National Policy on Rural Water Supply and Sanitation, declaring that “by 2025, all people in rural communities must have adequate water and sanitation services, and live in a hygienic and sustainable environment”. This vision is in line with the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

In order to achieve the goal, Rabun called on stakeholders at all levels to continue to work together and make it a reality.

“I call on all stakeholders to continue to participate and cooperate for better rural sanitation activities. I would also like to request the provincial and district technical working groups to continue to pay close attention to the sanitation situation in their localities, especially for poor families, people with disabilities and other vulnerable people. Everyone should have access to a clean water supply and sanitation,” he said.

Yi Kimthan, deputy country director of Plan International Cambodia, expressed his appreciation for the success, and confirmed that his organisation would continue to support clean water and sanitation work in new target areas.

“Plan remains committed to supporting the expeditious verification and declaration of ODF with the rural development ministry under the new government mandate. We will further strengthen our national and sub-national levels to develop a plan to achieve ODF status in other provinces,” he said.

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