Cambodia’s 5th open-defecation-free district declared

atp cambodia

All three Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All (SSH4A) in Cambodia programme districts – with funding from the Stone Family Foundation – have now been declared open-defecation free (ODF). In January 2020, Basedth district in Kampong Speu Province officially joined the ranks of the five ODF-verified districts in the country. Basedth’s achievement comes a month after Chum Kiri District was declared ODF.

Said Mr Chheorn Sothon, District Governor, Basedth, ‘We are very happy to have achieved this outcome. This achievement is a result of the high commitment of local authorities and all stakeholders in the district. We will maintain this achievement and continue to improve sanitation conditions.’

In 2015, 73% of the district’s approximately 150,000 residents were defecating in the open.  Today, 93% own a latrine and 7% share a latrine with their neighbour. In Cambodia, a village is considered to have reached ‘full sanitation coverage’ when a minimum of 85% households have access to and use improved latrines (following JMP standards), and no more than 15% share a latrine.

Comparison of sanitation coverage in Basedth, 2015 and 2019

Comparison of sanitation coverage in Basedth, 2015 and 2019

SNV and MRD collaboration was crucial in supporting Basedth’s pledge to sanitation and ensuring that progress reached all: people living in remote forest areas, households situated in areas with hard soil conditions and households living in poverty.

As a result of this support, the following achievements, among others, were realised.

  • Relevant duty bearers began executing their sanitation roles and responsibilities in line with government-endorsed Community-Led Total Sanitation guidelines to raise demand. Several sanitation-triggering activities run by duty bearers created spaces for participants with and without latrines to dialogue on the benefits of having a latrine and to learn about the diverse latrine options (and related costs) available to them.

  • Capacity of local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to grow the local sanitation market was honed through training, coaching, and improving quality control management. Complemented by a robust Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) campaign run by SNV and MRD, private latrine suppliers and sanitation committee members conducted post-triggering door-to-door visits to raise awareness on the benefits of having a latrine and the range of affordable latrine options. Private enterprises received entrepreneurship good practice training to improve their services and serve as vehicles in sustaining/expanding ODF outcomes.

  • In the absence of sanitation-smart subsidies, financing for vulnerable communities was mobilised. Some local government officials allocated part of their social budget to latrine construction for the ‘poorest of the poor’ category. Households outside the category – yet are still not able to afford a pour-flush latrine – were encouraged by local leaders to construct a temporary dry pit latrine (with a slab and one cement ring), or to share a nearby latrine.

Masons constructing an ATP toilet (Photo: SNV/Bunleng Tan)

Masons constructing an ATP toilet (Photo: SNV/Bunleng Tan)

Today, the district is home to 27,526 latrines; 843 (3%) of which are dry pit latrines.

Inspired by the district’s sanitation achievements, Ms Sok Hem, Commune Focal Point, Khat Plut Commune, Basedth shared the district’s commitment to push through with this success: ‘Our commune is the last commune in Basedth to achieve ODF, but our people are committed to maintain ODF status. We will upgrade all dry pit latrines after the harvest season. The Alternating Twin Pit (ATP) latrine being our first choice for latrine construction.’

Written by: Andrew Shantz with input from Bunleng Tan and Sunetra Lala