Tag Archives: Cambodia

Cambodian “Easy Latrine” wins international design award

A low-cost pour-flush latrines, especially developed for a project in Cambodia, has won a prestigious international design award.

The ‘Easy Latrine’, designed by Jeff Chapin while on sabbatical from IDEO, was one of three winners named Best in Show by the jury of the 2010 IDEA awards. The International Design Excellence Award (IDEA) is an annual competition organised by IDSA, the Industrial Designers Society of America.

Chapin designed the ‘Easy Latrine’ at the request of International Development Enterprises (IDE) for the Sanitation Marketing Project that was launched in Cambodia in early October 2009, under funding from USAID and the World Bank Water and Sanitation Program (WSP).

Users and schematics for the award-winning IDE Easy Latrine. Photos: Jeff Chapin and IDE Cambodia.

Village masons can build ‘Easy Latrines’ themselves from locally available parts. It consists of a pan, a bucket of water with a ladle, and pipes to connect a hut to a latrine buried in the ground. The latrine itself has three receptacles made of rings of concrete bound by the ash of rice husks — material that’s readily at hand and much cheaper than cement. Once a receptacle is full, it can be capped, and after two years, the sediment can be used as compost.

One latrine costs about $25 and more than 2,500 have already been purchased and installed by villagers. The aim to install 10,000 latrines by April 2011, all without subsidy as prescribed by the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach that the project is following.

Local producers are receiving training in sanitation and hygiene education, latrine production, and basic business and sales management. They are asked to invest a minimum of US$500 and produce three latrines per day.  A local mason—having seen his monthly income jump from US$50 to nearly US$400 in a matter of weeks—decided to invest more by purchasing another trailer for his motorbike in order to deliver more latrines to villages. He has also begun to sell his latrines to supply shops in the region as a secondary means of distribution. One supply shop is even selling the latrine core without making a profit, as they expect to earn their profits from the above-ground components that they will sell in conjunction with the core.

The IDEA jurors loved the clear thinking behind every aspect of the design of the ‘Easy Latrine’. Chapin and his team “understood how to bring the idea to the community, how the product would be made, and how it would be sustained,” says jury head John Barratt. “It’s an integration of strategy, service design, and product design.”

Source: Fast Company, 1 Jul 2010 ;  Aaron Langton, IDE Blog, 24 Jun 2010 ; WSP, Sanitation Marketing Takes Off in Cambodia, WSP, 2009

WSP/ADB – Sanitation Finance in Rural Cambodia

Sanitation Finance in Rural Cambodia: Review and Recommendations. Andy Robinson. Water and Sanitation Program; Asian Development Bank. May 2010.

Download Full-text (pdf, 1.37MB)

The study primarily contains a comparative analysis of different approaches to financing sanitation:  CLTS, project subsidies and social marketing. The report also makes a suggestion for a sanitation financing system based on conditional cash transfers, which to date have been mainly used in education and health care.

Some of the main findings include the following:

Comparative analysis of case studies

The comparative analysis confirms that public finance for sanitation in Cambodia is not reaching those below the poverty line. Ninety percent of the public finance for the large ADB program goes to non-poor households, and the two sanitation marketing project will require households to contribute at least USD 30 in order to obtain a latrine, whereas the willingness to pay data imply that USD 10 is the maximum amount that most poor households are willing to spend on a latrine.

The Plan CLTS program promotes far cheaper and simpler facilities than the other programs, which should be more affordable and appropriate for poor households. However, 35 percent of households in its program communities continue to practice open defecation, and most of these open defecators are likely to be poor households.

The use of public finance to subsidize the development, promotion and marketing of appropriate sanitation products is to be encouraged, but there is a risk that the current sanitation marketing programs will not benefit many poor households. It is important that an appropriate amount of public finance is directed towards developing and marketing products and services that are specifically targeted at the poorest households and those that cannot afford the USD 30 sanitation core package.

Finally, few of the programs examined have been successful in achieving collective sanitation outcomes, such as open defecation free communities, which should be the ultimate aim of all sanitation programs (in order to achieve the optimal benefits). The population segment that practices open defecation in the program communities is largely made up of poor households, and generally includes those with the highest disease burdens, i.e. those that are most likely to transmit diseases to others through unsafe excreta disposal. As a result, the benefits achieved by these sanitation programs may be limited.

Cambodia: award-winning water authority to take on sanitation

The winner of the Stockholm Industry Water Award 2010, Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA), has taken on the challenge to improve the city’s sanitation system as well.

After the appointment of Mr. Ek Sonn Chan in 1993 as General Director, he and his team managed to refurbish the whole supply system, introduce cost-effective billing and payment collection methods, tackle corruption, as well as world class management to provide water to almost all of the city’s residents.

“The PPWSA has now taken on the challenge to improve Phnom Penh’s sanitation system, and is also scheduled for an initial public offering on Cambodia’s new stock exchange later this year,” said the Stockholm Industry Water Award Jury in its citation.

The PPWSA will receive the award during the World Water Week in Stockholm 2010, September 5-11.

Read more

In the market for proper sanitation – WHO Bulletin March 2010

In the market for proper sanitationWHO Bulletin March 2010

Poor sanitation helps spread disease, yet efforts to provide subsidized toilets have been resisted for cultural reasons in many developing countries. To improve the rate of uptake, some people are now advocating a market-based approach. Kathryn Senior reports.

The main reason so many people are without toilets is because they don’t see a need for them, according to Jack Sim, founder of the World Toilet Organization, based in Singapore. Without demand, he says, there is no supply, no distribution network and no interest. “When people talk about sanitation, they usually talk water; it is easier from a social point of view. They even describe human faeces as ‘waste water’, ‘grey water’, ‘black water’, anything but what it is,” Sim adds.

Toilets are often regarded with suspicion in parts of the developing world. The relative failure of projects that provided heavily subsidized or free toilets has caused policy-makers to rethink how the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal (MDG 7) on environmental sustainability might be met by 2015.

MDG 7 aims to halve the proportion of people living without access to an improved source of drinking-water and basic sanitation by 2015.  Basic sanitation is defined as having access to excreta disposal facilities, such as a sewer or a septic tank, a pour‑flush latrine, a simple pit latrine or a ventilated improved latrine. “Improved sanitation” facilities include flush toilets or pit latrines, if they are not shared between households and provide privacy.

The latest trends reported by the Joint Monitoring Programme (2008) of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) show that the global MDG 7 drinking-water target will be met, but progress towards the sanitation target is significantly off-track.

In 1990, 46% of people worldwide had no access to “improved sanitation”.  By 2008 this had been reduced to 38% and is projected to fall to 33% by 2015, while the MDG target is to bring this down to 23% of the projected world population of 7.3 billion. Even if this target is met, 1.7 billion people will remain without access. The WHO/UNICEF programme projects that by 2015, 2.4 billion people will lack “improved sanitation” and 1.1 billion of those people will still defecate in the open.

Jean Humphrey, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the United States of America, says that most people involved in the provision of sanitation believe free toilets will not be used. “Some methods (such as the community-led total sanitation projects promoted by UNICEF) do not provide any subsidies. Instead, people are triggered to want a toilet and to build it out of existing sticks, grass, logs, stones, etc.,” she says.

Sanitation is central to the Asian Development Bank’s development agenda and the organization is keen to improve toilet provision. Anand Chiplunkar, principal water supply and sanitation specialist at the bank, says: “The economic returns of good sanitation have been demonstrated universally. We must find innovative ways of translating them into effective and sustainable solutions to provide environmentally sound sanitation. The task is difficult, as we need to overcome traditions, beliefs, politics and poverty.”

An internal evaluation of several projects undertaken by the Water and Sanitation Program, an international partnership led by The World Bank, revealed the most successful projects provided only a small subsidy, equal to about half the cost of the latrine. The more heavily subsidized projects failed. “The reasons for this are interesting; in some cases the subsidies are given as a sort of reward to political leadership for universal toilet construction,” says Humphrey. “The leadership, anxious for the money, impose toilets on the most resistant households, who then do not use them because they didn’t want them in the first place.”

A second reason is that sanitation promotion or behaviour change is essential for success. Programmes that used all or most of their budget on building toilets without using any resources to change people’s behaviour have failed. “In my mind, the cause of failure may be not so much that money was spent on subsidies, as that money was not spent on social mediation,” adds Humphrey.

Subsidies are often a controversial issue,” says Chiplunkar. “In the long term, the Asian Development Bank will try to persuade governments and regulatory agencies to phase out subsidies as economic conditions improve.” He says many community-based organizations, such as Gram Vikas in Orissa, India, have pursued innovative, socialized, community fund-raising. “Families contribute according to their economic capacity. This demonstrates that, with awareness, the financing need can be met without subsidies.”

Sim says that there are compelling reasons why people resist changing their sanitary habits. “People enjoy daily sessions squatting in social groups and public defecating is accepted as normal,” he says. Some academic studies, including one on the Orissa project, have suggested that shaming people about this practice can motivate them to buy and install a toilet, but Sim disagrees. “You can give people information on the privacy advantages of toilets, how their use can cut down disease and death and lecture them on hygiene but none of that will convince enough people to change their view. Envy is the only way to sell toilets; people need an emotional trigger.”

Getting people to use toilets requires imagination, says Sim. “Toilets need to be as sexy as mobile phones and TVs so that people really want them in their homes. It is not unusual to find houses in Africa and Asia where people have high-tech gadgets but no toilet, so it’s not really about their ability to afford one.” He believes charitable projects are inefficient because too much money is wasted on administration and too little spent on toilets and education. “Grey, boring concrete toilets installed for free don’t appeal at any level. People don’t understand why they have been installed, they don’t know how to maintain them and they often abandon them when they get smelly.”

The market model advocated by Sim is being developed in Cambodia but should be rolled out in other developing countries in the next three years. “Our idea is to manufacture bright, colourful toilets that are simple to use, easy to maintain and can be bought for less than US$ 100. The only way to supply toilets in a sustainable way is to create a market and a demand for them. When people invest their money in a toilet, they are more likely to accept it and use it.”

Sim and others at the World Toilet Organization have been collaborating with Christopher Ng and Rigel Technology to develop an alternative to the “sticks and stones” self-built latrine. “The basic concept is to provide an economically sustainable and yet affordable toilet. Hence, with Rigel, we are trying to develop toilets for as little as US$ 30 each. The products will be ready around March to April this year,” says Ng, the managing director of the Rigel Technology Group, based in Kaki Bukit, Singapore.

Rigel exhibited its latest toilet at the World Toilet Organization Summit in December 2009. It is attractive and ecologically sound, turning excrement into fertilizer. “It doesn’t need running water to flush it, although water is still needed for washing and hygiene,” says Sim.

In Cambodia, toilets are being provided to villages, where families work together to pay by monthly instalment. “This is arranged on rotation, with one family receiving a toilet each month. At the end of the year, all 12 families have toilets,” says Sim. He is promoting a franchise concept to encourage people to become distributors and suppliers in their area. “Then the market model becomes a ‘no-brainer’,” he says.

Link: http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/88/3/10-020310/en/index.html

WaterSHED – Sanitation in Cambodia

WaterSHED is led by the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health and supported by USAID’s Regional Development Mission-Asia (RDMA). WaterSHED, which stands for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Enterprise Development, is a public-private partnership designed to bring effective, affordable water and sanitation products to market in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

Meeting debates Mekong sanitation

HA NOI — Ways to improve water quality and sanitation for 1.8 million poor people living across three countries are being discussed at a three-day conference in the city.

The conference of the Mekong Region Water and Sanitation Initiative (MEK-WATSAN) started yesterday.

The initiative, with a likely budget of US$41 million, aimed to halve the proportion of people in Laos, Cambodia and Viet Nam without access to quality water and sanitation services by 2015, said Andre Dzikus, the chief of the Water and Sanitation Section II of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat)

Conference delegates want to finalise regional programmes for training, analysis, sanitation and hygiene education along with cost estimates so the initiative can achieve the best possible results for at least eight more towns in the countries.

MEK-WATSAN promotes pro-poor urban water governance, urban water conservation and demand management; integrated urban environmental sanitation and income generation for the urban poor through community-based water and sanitation services.

Secondary urban towns in the Mekong region are the target of the initiative. While some progress had been made, a substantial percentage of the people in the peri-urban and secondary urban settlements and rural areas were left without improved water and sanitation, said the United Nations Resident Co-ordinator, John Hendra.

In Viet Nam, the national coverage for water and sanitation was 70 and 30 per cent respectively, but coverage for secondary towns remained at a third for water and only a tenth for sanitation, noted Hendra.

Some water and sanitation projects under the initiative have been fast tracked in 17 secondary towns in the Mekong region. Investments of more than $3 million have provided safe piped water and sanitation facilities and improved the standards of water utility staff and through public awareness campaigns, water conservation and demand management skills.

In Viet Nam, the fast-tracking of projects in Quang Tri Province’s Lao Bao and Dong Ha towns improves water quality and sanitation for 40,000. The projects use poverty mapping and an initial environment examination to ensure the best service is implemented.

Community-based water supply and sanitation projects involving nearly 300,000 people are under way in five towns, including Khanh Hoa Province’s Cam Ranh Town, Ninh Thuan Province’s Thap Cham and Ca Na towns, and Phu Yen Province’s Song Cau and Tuy Hoa towns. —VNS

Source – Viet Nam News

Sell sanitation with sex appeal

‘Selling sanitation the Madison Avenue way, with good old-fashioned sex appeal and social pressure’, writes a National Geographic reporter from the Istanbul World Water Forum on 17 March 2009. How?


The feature provides six messages that every water and sanitation promoter should spread continuously.


  • Make a toilet into an object of desire.
  • It’s cool to have a toilet.
  • Be the first person on your block to have one.
  • Miss Kenya promotes toilet malls use in Kibera slum.
  • Romantic songs and videos make sanitation and health sexy in Cambodia.
  • Make it acceptable to talk about shit. 

See a video belo from Cambodia featuring an attractive young couple. The woman sings “You’re a great husband for giving me this well,” and he responds “I gave it to you because I love you.” Theay also sing about arsenic pollution.

Cambodia: Floating Toilets for Floating Villages

Mr. Sahari Ani, Photo: ADB

Mr. Sahari Ani, Photo: ADB

Mr. Sahari Ani, the CEO of Lien Aid, a Singapore-based nongovernment organization, was interviewed by the Asian Development Bank in their “Water Champion” series. Mr Ani spoke about his organisation’s work in Cambodia, in particular on the floating toilets of the “River of life” project (see also an earlier blog post on this project). “With this, we hope to provide better sanitation options for the floating communities on the Tonle Sap [lake]. We’ve already heightened the communities’ awareness on proper sanitation. This month, we will introduce different toilet designs that they can build on their houseboats. Simultaneously, we’re providing them with a safer choice for drinking water by building a floating water treatment plant” Mr. Ani said. “We are exploring several options including the use of especially adapted septic tanks plus ecological sanitation using the urine diversion-dissecting (UDD) toilet”.

Based on the villagers’ preferences, Lien Aid “determined the size of the toilets, buckets to be used for storage of excreta, ecosan pans (2-hole or 3-hole), and other design considerations [resulting in] 3 workable designs to date”. “Our next challenges are to modify existing toilets to incorporate the UDD options, ensure availability of suitable drying material for covering feces, and keep the costs manageable”, Mr. Ani explained.

Lien Aid, which works together with the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) and local authorities, “is developing simple [...] publications on methods of construction, use, and maintenance of the floating toilets”.

Floating toilets cost “between US$50-200, depending on whether the family will just upgrade their existing drop-hole toilet to accommodate the UDD technology or whether the entire toilet, including superstructure, will be constructed from scratch. The size of the toilet will also dictate the cost – toilets that can accommodate 2 tanks will obviously cost more. We’re still trying to lower the cost by using indigenous materials and encouraging local entrepreneurs to manufacture the UDD pans”.

Together with the floating toilets, “a land-based composting unit and collection system will be established to manage the semi-composted feces. We hope to promote the use of fully decomposed feces as compost”.

Lien Aid had “already set up a community center for water-sanitation related training and advocacy activities” and “will also form a water-sanitation group from among the residents and community leaders”.

“Our work is less about giving hand-outs and more about empowering people to participate and make informed choices on how they can improve their lives. Extensive consultation with local authorities, NGOs, and communities is the backbone of our work”.

See sample designs of floating UDD toilets here.

Source: ADB, Feb 2009

Cambodian comedian takes rural sanitation to the Kingdom’s TVs


Comedian Chab Chean. Photo: PHOTO SUPPLIED

TV personality Chab Chean has been chosen as the government’s spokesperson in a push to promote sanitation throughout the countryside.

The government is hoping a little toilet humour will go a long ways in bringing its pro-sanitation message to the countryside, where millions live without access to running water and the nearest rice field often passes for the bathroom.

Only about 16 percent of rural Cambodians have access to toilets, according to the World Bank-sponsored Water and Sanitation Program. In some parts of the country, that figure can drop below five percent.

[...] “Many people in the countryside come around when they see Chab Chean educating them about the program, which is different from being told by local authorities,” [Chea Samnang, director of the Department of Rural Health at the Ministry of Rural Development] said. “As a local TV comedian and presenter, Chab Chean has been considered an excellent model in encouraging Cambodian people to cooperate with local authorities so that they know how to live in a clean environment and how to use toilets”.

“We have many methods of encouraging people in the countryside to help spread knowledge about rural sanitation. We show them through our jokes so that they are interested and happy, and they will never get bored,” Chab Chean said.

Source: Khoun Leakhana, Phnom Penh Post, 23 Dec 2008

Cambodia: Singaporean group introduces “floating” toilets

In rural Cambodia, only 16 per cent of residents have a proper toilet — the lowest rate in Southeast Asia.


Floating house with outside toilet. Photo: Channelnews.com

[...] On Cambodia’s great lake, Tonle Sap [...] homes are floating platforms and must move seasonally, and outhouses are simply a wooden plank over the open water. People have no choice but to contaminate the very same water they use for drinking and washing.

[The "River of Life" project launched by Singaporean NGO Lien Aid and the Lien Institute For the Environment (LIFE)], aims to make a difference in this community of about 10,000 people [by] introducing the concept of “floating” toilets which are affordable, locally-made, and therefore sustainable.

“It is actually a simple system… We’re going to use locally available buckets where they can collect the faeces. We are going to use some locally available agent to dry the faeces, that is, using ashes and other local material,” said the CEO of Lien Aid, Sahari Ani.

One key to the project is that locals will have to source and build their own toilets, to ensure that all parts of the community are involved.

“The toilet that we introduce to the community — they are very happy to get that one and they try to find their own resources to contribute to the project,” said the director of the Department of Rural Health Care, Ministry of Rural Development, Chea Samnang.

Lien Aid was set up in 2006 to address the water and sanitation crisis in developing countries around Asia. A Singapore based non-governmental organisation, it was established as an independent entity through the Lien Foundation – Nanyang Technological University Environmental Endeavour.

Source: Anasuya Sanyal, Channelnewsaia.com, 13 Dec 2008 ; Lien Aid