Cambodia
Capital:
Phnom Penh
Population:
16 million
Area:
181,035
km2

Cambodia is not short of water. The tropical climate and great Mekong river feed dense forests, expansive rice fields and the country’s great central lake, Tonlé Sap. Despite this, it is not easy to find clean water to drink.

After a brutal genocide that cast a long shadow on the country and stunted development, Cambodia is now emerging as one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. This is bringing new hope and opportunities to Cambodians, but also new challenges.

The rapid expansion of industry is causing widespread deforestation, with a knock-on effect on precious water sources. While average standards of living are rising, the benefits of progress are not being shared equally. Many people still live in extreme poverty, with no basic services like clean water or decent toilets.

But Cambodians are resilient and resourceful people. They have found ways to float entire communities on lakes and harvest crops on vast flood plains. 

This creative approach fuels our work in Cambodia. We have helped to develop innovative solutions by working with local partners and other organizations. From floating toilets to specially designed handwashing stations in hospitals, together we’re helping to change daily life for the better.

people don't have clean water.

That's 1 in 4 people.

 lack a decent toilet.

8 million people live without this basic essential.

 people living in cities have a decent toilet.

But only 2 in 5 people living in rural areas do.

Clean water, greener gardens

WaterAid/Tom Greenwood
"Now I can grow vegetables to cook and to sell at market. I did grow some vegetables before but they died because I could not give them enough water."
Krowh Phong, 75

In Prek Bei, around 900 people struggle to make a living from small-scale farming. Lack of water services and toilets has added greatly to local poverty.

Until recently, the only way to get regular water here was to order it by the bottle from a travelling truck. Quality was questionable, and prices were high. 

The water deliveries were also less than punctual. “Sometimes the truck didn't come for two days,” says Krowh Phong, 75.

The expense and difficulty of living this way put a limit on what people could achieve.

This changed dramatically when, together with our local partners DDSP – who focus on helping people with disabilities in Cambodia – we installed a community well.

Phong is delighted: “Now I have water, I can grow vegetables to cook and sell at market, like pumpkin and lemongrass and others.” 

Innovation in floating villages

For the 100,000 people who live on Tonlé Sap, the lake is their lifeblood. We helped to trial the Handypod, which filters toilet waste through a floating hyacinth garden before it goes back to the lake - keeping the water clean for other uses like cleaning and fishing.

WaterAid/Laura Summerton

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