ADB tackles clean water access in Cambodia

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A gardener waters flowers in front of the Council of Ministers in Phnom Penh. Reuters

The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) board of directors recently approved more than $50 million in loans to help expand and improve urban water supply and sanitation services in four of Cambodia’s largest provincial cities.

As part of the provincial water supply and sanitation project, the ADB will be administering a $10 million grant from the Japan Fund for the Joint Crediting Mechanism to help finance a new energy-efficient wastewater treatment plant in Battambang.

The bank will also administer a $43.54 million loan co-financed by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD).

The cities that will benefit from the project are Battambang, Kampong Cham, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, all important commercial, industrial and tourist centres in the country.

“As urbanisation in Cambodia continues at a rapid pace, there is a need to ensure that people have access to safe and reliable water supply and sanitation services to support their productivity and daily lives, and improve their urban environment,” said Michael White, urban development specialist at ADB’s Southeast Asia Department.

Now only 42.2 percent of the urban population – excluding Phnom Penh – have access to a piped water supply, and while 80.2 percent have access to improved sanitation, only 10.7 percent have access to sewerage and wastewater treatment.

The project will improve the piped water supply in Battambang and Kampong Cham, through the construction of two water treatment plants with a combined capacity of 61,600 cubic metres per day and a new 161-kilometre distribution network.

This will increase coverage of the piped water supply to about 90 percent of the population in the targeted cities, edging closer to the government’s ultimate goal of covering 100 percent of the population by 2025.

In Sihanoukville, the project will improve urban sanitation services through the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant and the construction of 37 kilometres of sewer pipelines, while a new 3.7-kilometre trunk sewer will be built in Siem Reap to reduce pollution and improve the urban environment in this international tourist destination.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $119 million, with the government contributing $10.54 million. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

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