Banteay Meas is now Cambodia's first open defecation free district! We congratulate all those involved and hope that this impressive milestone sets an example for the rest of Cambodia.

Before our Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All (SSH4A) programme -supported by The Stone Family Foundation- started in Cambodia, open defecation was a common practice in the Banteay Meas district. In 2012 just 16% of households had access to a toilet, and people’s awareness of the importance of improved sanitation and hygiene was low. Mr. Kob Phoeun, Commune Chief of Trapeang Sala Khang Lech in the Banteay Meas district stated: "At first, we didn’t think we could do it. But now we have! It is an effort from everyone, including commune and all the villages, because it is good for all."  

Banteay Meas becoming an open defecation free (ODF) district was celebrated with an event in the Samraung Kroam commune on Friday 4 November - organised by SNV, together with the Cambodia government and NGO partners. "The remarkable results in Banteay Meas district have been achieved because of the different actors working together. The lessons from this success have reinforced our understanding that we need an integrated approach to reach universal access to rural sanitation that includes leadership at the district, commune and village levels which drives and supports the communities’ own sense of motivation and commitment to become and sustain ODF," said Sunetra Lala, SNV WASH Sector Leader in Cambodia.

The achievement accomplished by the Banteay Meas community members ties in with the theme of this year’s National Sanitation Day, which is to address the value of participation by each individual and agency in helping Cambodia reach universal access to sanitation by 2025. Getting ODF status is the result of the hard work and good cooperation of all the relevant stakeholders, and strong commitment of the Provincial Department of Rural Development (PDRD), district authorities, the commune council, village chiefs, and school principles.

Mr. Chreay Pom, Director of the Department of Rural Health Care of the Ministry of Rural Development, observed: "First, we managed to work well together between the partners, the government and sub-national authority. We also got good cooperation from PDRD. We cooperated with local authorities. Second, we’ve used mixed methods to promote sanitation and hygiene. What we have done here is a good lesson for other provinces and districts."

For more information on the SSH4A programme or reaching ODF status, please contact Sunetra Lala.