National and local authorities in Cambodia have taken a huge step forward to secure area-wide sanitation improvements. Recent endorsement of the country’s first-ever Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) Guidelines for Rural Households is showing a government determined to enable inclusive sanitation services for the almost 17 million population of Cambodia.
‘While efforts to realise full sanitation coverage will need to continue, simultaneously, attention in FSM services is increasing. Faecal sludge management is a challenge for our sector and one that we readily accept. The National FSM guidelines for rural households represents an important first step in the direction of safely managed sanitation services. It ensures that our sanitation programmes and solutions have a strong foundation to build on.’ – Dr Lon Sayteng, Director, Department of Rural Health Care Ministry of Rural Development
SSH4A implementation goes beyond sanitation coverage
Since 2018, SNV has been supporting sub-national authorities’ ambition to promote safe faecal sludge management in the Banteay Meas and Chum Kiri districts of Kampot province and Basedth district of Kampong Speu. This collaboration has been taking place within the framework of SNV’s partnership with the Stone Family Foundation, which applies the Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All (SSH4A) approach. Together, the partnership has seen through the open defecation-free certification of all three SSH4A districts; Basedth district having been certified by January 2020.
With the noticeable increase of FSM interest in the three SSH4A districts in 2018, district governments with SNV’s SSH4A team took this as an opportunity to increase the availability of Alternating Twin-Pit (ATP) toilets and promote safe pit emptying, handling and disposal. As a result, this success and lessons learnt from SNV’s experience in the three SSH4A districts provided a blueprint for the multi-stakeholder development of the National Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) Guidelines for Rural Households.
About the national FSM guidelines
The national guidelines document was developed by the Faecal Sludge Management Sub-group under the leadership of the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) of the Government of Cambodia. The sub-group, co-chaired by SNV and the World Bank, comprised of representatives from government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and development partners. Drafting and finalisation of the guidelines were spearheaded by SNV.
On 17 January 2020, a national consultation workshop was convened in Phnom Penh to review and compile feedback on the draft guidelines developed by all 25 Provincial Departments of Rural Development (PDRD) along with national-level representatives from MRD and NGOs. The guidelines was formally endorsed by the government in March 2020.
Overall, the guidelines provides national and sub-national authorities with information on how to motivate communities and households to engage in viable and sustainable on-site FSM solutions. The document offers insight into the following:
- how safe on-site household level FSM solutions can be promoted by duty bearers of sanitation and practised by suppliers;
- how faecal sludge may be treated, emptied and disposed of in a safe manner, within the context of rural Cambodia;
- how rural households, themselves, can carry out the safe management of their own sanitation situation, on their own property; and
- the enabling environment needed to scale up FSM solutions throughout the country.
A commitment to achieve higher levels of sanitation
With the increasing pace of sanitation coverage in the country, the focus will now shift to issues of FSM, quality of latrines and sustainability to ensure that sanitation achievements make a lasting and long-term impact on the lives of rural Cambodians. The guidelines represents a first step to harmonise approaches aimed at achieving safely managed sanitation in Cambodia. Going forward, it is envisaged that FSM measures will be intermittently adapted as technical, institutional, economic, social and financial capacities evolve, and as new technologies, concepts, and best practices emerge.
Prepared by: Sunetra Lala with input from Andrew Shantz
Photos by SNV/Bunleng Tan: (banner) National Consultation Workshop on Faecal Sludge Management Guidelines for Rural Households | Early safe FSM household adopters
 As of date there are only five districts verified to be open defecation free. Three of five of the districts are SSH4A implementation districts.