The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced a new $3-million initiative to improve access to water and sanitation in rural Cambodia.
The initiative, dubbed the WASH-FIN Cambodia project, will run over the course of three years, starting this month.
“The budget will be used to strengthen the capacity of private water operators in rural areas where there is no access to state-run water supplies,” Min Mony, USAID’s project officer, said.
“Water supply operators in targeted rural areas will be able to boost capacity and efficiency through training provided by USAID on water supply and sanitation.”
However, WASH-FIN’s main objective is to help local businesses expand their operations by facilitating access to funding. The programme will provide technical assistance to private water operators that seek to take out loans with banks or microfinance institutions (MFIs).
“USAID is proud to encourage private sector lending in Cambodia’s WASH’s sector,” said Polly Dunford, USAID Cambodia Mission Director.
“Clean water and hygiene are critical to any community and we are confident that this will support Cambodia’s tremendous economic growth as well as the health of its citizens,” she said.
Chea Samnang, an official at the Agriculture and Rural Development Commission, applauded the project, saying it will enable access for many people to safe water.
“The project is important because it will grant access to clean, piped water in rural areas. Many people won’t have to dig wells or depend on filtered water anymore,” Mr Samnang said.
To take advantage of existing local knowledge and systems, WASH-FIN is partnering with the Cambodia Water Supply Association (CWA).
CWA’s executive director Hor Khykeng also welcomed the project.
“I believe that under this initiative, private water operators in rural areas will build capacity in the water supply sector and lower costs, since they will have more access to financial services,” he said.