Siem Reap provincial officials on February 16 reiterated a call for widespread adoption of the toilet to keep the environment clean and to meet the government’s Open Defecation Free (ODF) objectives by 2025.

The call came at a provincial meeting on action plans and procedures for the working groups tasked with ensuring ODF status in Siem Reap province.

Provincial Department of Rural Development director Touch Mala commented that officials at all levels have, by and large, done their bit to advance development efforts to this end.

He shared that three of the province’s 11 districts have reached ODF status, but voiced concern over open-defecation and clean-drinking-water issues in Siem Reap town and areas near the Tonle Sap Lake.

Mala asked for relevant institutions to step up their support to bring up rural water-supply and sanitation coverage up to at least 90 per cent each.

He stressed that achieving the government’s 2025 vision will require all members of rural communities to live in hygienic environments, with adequate water supply and sanitation.

Ministry of Rural Development secretary of state Chrun Theravat described improving rural sanitation as integral to raising people’s living standards, in step with the government’s poverty reduction policies.

He asked officials across Cambodia’s main touristic province to encourage hygienic practices to keep the environment clean, improve the livelihoods of the people, and stimulate the national economy.

“A lack of hygiene takes its toll on the health of the people, especially that of children, stunting their growth and causing other problems,” Theravat said, calling for concerted efforts to realise the government’s 2025 vision.

According to 2019 census results, around 82.83 per cent of all Cambodian households had toilets. The corresponding rates for urban and rural areas were 90.41 per cent and 78.31 per cent, respectively.