Women taking the lead in transforming community sanitation: Leuk Saroeun

Women taking the lead in transforming community sanitation: Leuk Saroeun

Women community leaders are key to achieving the goals of the Cambodia Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Improvement Programme (CR-SHIP).

Mrs. Leuk Saroeun (above), aged 46, has been chief of Svay Kreang village, Thlork commune, Svay Chrum district, Svay Rieng province since 2007. She has three children, and like other women in the village she farms and does housework like cooking, cleaning, washing and childcare.

Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) is a process to bring about community-wide behaviour change and eliminate open defecation. In June 2012, Sarouen was selected as a focal person to work with the Provincial Department of Rural Development and SNV to promote sanitation and hygiene in her village. She was trained on CLTS and Behaviour Change Communications, and set out to transform her village.

There are 127 households in Svay Kreang. Before the project started, sanitation coverage was about 51% with only 65 households having access to a toilet. Saroeun recorded all households with and without toilets, and updated this information quarterly. She visited every household that hadn’t adopted latrines to explain to them the importance and convenience of having a toilet.

Through Saroeun’s hard work and commitment, by December 2013 her village was declared Open Defecation Free, with all households now having access to an improved sanitary toilet. “I worked very hard to promote sanitation and hygiene so that my village could become ODF,” said Mrs. Saroeun, “and it also improved my village’s profile.”


Since January 2012, SNV has been providing capacity building and technical assistance for the Provincial Departments of Rural Development (PDRDs) and local government partners in Cambodia in the planning, effective implementation and regular monitoring of sanitation and hygiene interventions. There are five target provinces: Kampong Cham, Kampong Speu, Kandal, Takeo and Svay Rieng. The improved capacity of the line agencies and partners in the programme target areas to continue to implement sanitation and hygiene interventions is an important factor determining the sustainability and long-term benefits of the programme.

Over the past two years remarkable results and progress have been made in enhancing access to improved sanitation and hygiene in more than 700 rural villages in the five CR-SHIP target provinces. By December 2013, more than 85,000 additional people had access to and were using toilets in the target areas supported by SNV. More than 100 villages have successfully eliminated the practice of open defecation and have been declared open defecation free (ODF). Based on the remarkable results and lessons learnt, the provincial and district authorities are committed to scaling up programme interventions to effectively address the sanitation challenges in other rural communities in the five provinces.