Approximately 175,000 people across four provinces will benefit from access to clean water resources, following the World Bank’s approval of a $163 million project aimed at bolstering Cambodia’s water supply and sanitation services. 

The Washington-based multilateral lender announced the fund was approved on November 21 to enhance safe water access in Battambang, Pursat, Mondulkiri and Kandal provinces. 

While acknowledging the country’s significant progress in improving supply and hygiene, the bank emphasised the need for further efforts to meet the country’s targets and achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, which calls for clean water and sanitation for all by 2030. 

As of 2022, less than a third of Cambodians had access to a safely managed supply, and just over a third used soundly managed sanitation.

“The six-year Water Supply and Sanitation Acceleration Project will bolster government initiatives to increase access to safe water supply and sanitation, enhance the operation and maintenance of existing systems and ensure the sustainability of services,” the bank stated.

The project incorporates a component to maximise finance for development, collaborating with private operators – who provide over half of the country’s piped connections – to secure an additional $17.6 million in private funding for expanding supply services.

Minister of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation Hem Vanndy highlighted in the statement that the water sector is crucial for resilient and sustainable development, as well as for boosting the economy.

“This project will assist the government in realising its vision and overarching development strategy. We are committed to ensuring sustainable growth in the sector and achieving SDG 6,” he stated.

Maryam Salim, World Bank country manager for Cambodia, stated that access to safe water and sanitation is a fundamental human right.

“This support will enable the government to lay a solid foundation for making these essential services accessible to all Cambodians, bringing swift benefits, particularly to women and those in poor and rural areas who are currently underserved,” she said.

Minister of Public Works and Transport Peng Ponea noted that the government has placed great emphasis on wastewater and solid waste management. He said that investments in sanitation systems under the project are key to the sustainability of services, which will bring a transformative impact on the sector.

The industry ministry will oversee water supply activities, while the public works ministry will manage urban sanitation efforts under the project, according to the World Bank.