Banteay Meas in Cambodia still open-defecation free after three years
Banteay Meas district in Kampot province remains open-defecation free, three years after becoming the 1st district in the country to reach this status.
The country’s first ODF status re-verification process took place over three days. Conducted by a 42-person team, with the participation of officials from the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), the Provincial Departments of Rural Development, District Departments of Education, Youth, and Sport and local government authorities, the re-verification process was led by the MRD. It was conducted in accordance to the National ODF Verification Guidelines developed in 2015.
The team found that strong leadership and good practice by the district population effectively sustained ODF status over the three-year period. Local authorities and sanitation focal points continued to meet regularly to discuss sanitation conditions and post-ODF follow-up activities. Authorities monitored sanitation conditions in their district regularly and updated village logbooks with their findings. They also coordinated with private sector to ensure that services were still being offered in all communities in the district. These services included latrine repair and maintenance and the construction of new latrines; in new homes, to meet demands for latrine upgrade, or in households whose members previously shared a latrine.
Speaking after the MRD’s successful reverification process last 18 December 2019, Mr Moung Nourn, the District Governor, Banteay Meas noted, ‘I would like to give my thanks to all village focal points and commune focal points who have continued their efforts to monitor and sustain the ODF status at village and commune levels, and have ensured sustainability of ODF status.’
Towards reaching higher and more sustainable levels of sanitation, the ODF review team offered several recommendations to district authorities. These include the following:
further reduce number of dry pits (which are more vulnerable to collapse over time);
further minimise the proportion of households sharing a latrine with a neighbour;
continue monitoring sanitation conditions, particularly that of migrant households;
continue efforts to maintain the upkeep of sanitation facilities; and
continue personal and environmental hygiene promotion activities.
The above recommendations were received positively by the local authorities of Banteay Meas and declared their commitment to execute these. With the aim to entrench good sanitation habits in the district, while maintaining ODF status indefinitely, Ms Lin Chanthon, Commune Focal Point stated, ‘I am confident that even if the ODF verification committee were to initiate a re-verification process again, the district will continue to maintain its ODF status. This is because the households are now aware of the importance of sanitation and hygiene in the district. Households now prioritise the building of a latrine when they plan to construct a house.'
Written by: Andrew Shantz with Bunleng Tan
Photos: SNV in Cambodia/Bunleng Tan