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UNICEF says 6.3 million Cambodians still lack access to safe water

World Water Day
© UNICEF Cambodia/2014

World Water Day
6.3 million Cambodians lack access to safe water: UNICEF

Increased commitment and investment needed to improve access and accelerate Cambodia’s economic and social development

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia 21 March 2014 – It is almost four years since the UN General Assembly declared that water was a human right, meaning every person should have access to safe water and basic sanitation, yet 6.3 million Cambodians do not have this basic necessity, UNICEF said to mark World Water Day.

Some 3.9 million of those without access to safe drinking water in Cambodia are poor and live in rural areas. Without safe water and adequate sanitation and hygiene, children (41 per cent of the population) are especially vulnerable to water-borne diseases.

This costs lives and money.

Diarrhoea is second leading cause of death for children under the age of five in Cambodia, while vitamin and mineral deficiencies due to diarrhea results in an annual loss of US$146 million to Cambodia’s GDP.

UNICEF says that increased commitment and investment in enhancing the quality of rural water will not only ensure that every person has water and sanitation as a human right, will also help to accelerate Cambodia’s economic and social development.

“Attention to rural water supply, sanitation and hygiene will unquestionably deliver results - less child deaths, better learning at school, less disease, more productive workers, less health costs for the people and the system. These services are central to Cambodia’s future as a middle income country,” said Rana Flowers, UNICEF Representative to Cambodia. “The sector requires substantial investment – in commune investment plans, for example – and strengthened commitment and inter-ministerial collaboration at both national and local levels,” said Ms. Flowers.

To improve health outcomes in Cambodia public institutions as well as households must have access to safe water and sanitation. Currently, about 40 per cent of primary schools and 35 per cent of health centres do not have safe drinking water facilities.

UNICEF works with the Royal Government of Cambodia, development partners and non-governmental organisations to formulate and implement national policies for the provision of safe water and sanitation, to improve household and school water supplies, and to promote hygiene behavior in local communities including the poorest, the most difficult to reach and the most disadvantaged.

To celebrate World Water Day in Cambodia, the popular Cambodian comedy Perkmy team will be a host a one-hour TV show on CTN on Saturday, 22 March at 7.30 p.m. The programme will highlight the importance of safe water and feature ways to prevent diarrhoea.

Followers of UNICEF Cambodia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can discuss what water means to them using photographs and the hashtag #WaterIs to help raise awareness of what it means to live without access to safe drinking water.

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About UNICEF
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work in Cambodia visit: www.unicef.org.kh

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For further information, please contact:
Denise Shepherd-Johnson Chief of Communication, UNICEF Cambodia, Mobile: 092 555 294 or dshepherdjohnson@unicef.org

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