Women taking the lead in transforming community sanitation: Sim Noarn
Any woman in any community can play a part in promoting hygiene, not just village chiefs like Leuk Saroeun. Mrs. Sim Noarn (right) is 42 years old and lives in Prey Ngaong village, Pheary Mean Chey commune, Basedth district, Kampong Speu province. She is widowed with two children.
Noarn constructed a pour flush latrine in 2013, sharing the cost with her sister Sim Nath. But she also motivates her relatives to construct more latrines. “I previously had no knowledge about the spread of diarrhoea,” she said, “but the Provincial and District Departments of Rural Development conducted a village CLTS event and motivated the village to construct latrines.
Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) is a process to bring about community-wide behaviour change and eliminate open defecation. As a leader in her family, she plays a variety of roles in championing CLTS, and regularly attends meetings with commune councils and the village chief. “I understand that this is of the utmost importance,” says Noarn, “and it contributes to developing my rural community and it impacts on our health and environment.”
Both Sim Noarn and Sim Nath said that before they had the latrine they themselves would practice open defecation. “It was difficult at night time, especially if it was raining and if we had diarrhoea, and as lone women we were afraid of being attacked. So we needed one or two people to wait for us outside. Noarn concludes: “Sanitation and hygiene promotion is a big challenge, because we have to encourage people to change their mindsets and behaviours.”
Since January 2012, SNV has been providing capacity building and technical assistance for the Provincial Departments of Rural Development (PDRDs) and local government partners in Cambodia in the planning, effective implementation and regular monitoring of sanitation and hygiene interventions. There are five target provinces: Kampong Cham, Kampong Speu, Kandal. Takeo and Svay Rieng. The improved capacity of the line agencies and partners in the programme target areas to continue to implement sanitation and hygiene interventions is an important factor determining the sustainability and long-term benefits of the programme.
Over the past two years remarkable results and progress have been made in enhancing access to improved sanitation and hygiene in more than 700 rural villages in the five CR-SHIP target provinces. By December 2013, more than 85,000 additional people had access to and were using toilets in the target areas supported by SNV. More than 100 villages have successfully eliminated the practice of open defecation and have been declared open defecation free (ODF). Based on the remarkable results and lessons learnt, the provincial and district authorities are committed to scaling up programme interventions to effectively address the sanitation challenges in other rural communities in the five provinces.