Unlocking Cambodia’s future by Improving Access to Basic Drinking Water, Sanitation Services and Hygiene


Less than 65% of the Cambodian households have access to an improved water source, and only 76% have access to improved sanitation.i This is among the worst levels of access to improved water in Asia.

What is happening?

Good hygiene remains a substantial obstacle to development and growth in Cambodia, having one of the highest rates of open defecation in the region with 6 million people continuing the practice.iii Households in rural areas are substantially worse than in urban areas, with 98.9% of households in Phnom Penh having flushable toilets connected to sewerage, compared to only 70.9% in rural areas.

Even where toilets are available, their type and condition vary, and they are not sufficiently available in public services where children and vulnerable citizens frequent. For example, less than 30% of separate public preschools have latrines and hand washing facilities, and less than 60% of primary schools have access to safe water and hand washing facilities.

Analysis of social accountability data at schools shows that 20% of the issues raised by citizens to be addressed as a priority by local authorities related to access to clean water and sanitation at the school.

Similarly, health care facilities are often reported as having insufficient water, sanitation and hygiene amenities, with only 50% reported by the National Institute of Public Health as always having sufficient water for their needs. Health care services cannot adequately respond to health needs without access to clean water. Positively, health centers have much better performance in regards to general sanitation, although they lack separate toilets for males and females as well as the relatively basic additions that make toilets accessible for people with reduced mobility who would frequent the health center (such as pregnant women, people with disabilities, the elderly, and menstrual hygiene facilities for women and girls).

Access to improved water supplies is also low, with only 58% of rural households having access to an improved water source, leaving over 1.1 million rural households without access to an improved water source.