Water and Sanitation


Water, sanitation and hygiene delivery

Promoting key hygiene behaviours

Improving water supplies


Water, sanitation and hygiene delivery

Improving capacity to deliver on water
© UNICEF Cambodia/Nicolas Axelrod

Sustainable improvements in hygiene behaviour patterns require more than education activities. At the same time, water, sanitation and hygiene facilities are not sufficient on their own to improve health.

Over the years, UNICEF’s work on water, sanitation and hygiene has shifted from an emphasis on provision of water supply ‘hardware’ such as hand pumps and wells to a more holistic approach that combines provision of facilities with the promotion of behaviour change and supportive policies and institutions.

The development of policies, institutions and community capacity to manage and sustain hygiene, water and sanitation programmes is essential for long-term success. In Cambodia, UNICEF works with the government and other partners to create conditions for change – or enabling environments – to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of all water, sanitation and hygiene efforts.

Communities must be equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively manage their own facilities and to demand high-quality services from government, civil society and the private sector.

Engagement of the private sector through sanitation marketing will encourage local producers to design and sell affordable sanitation facilities to households, avoiding the need for direct subsidies to households.

This model has been shown to be effective in areas where communities have been mobilised through community empowerment and participatory approaches like community-led total sanitation. This helps to free the limited resources of government and development partners to focus on the poorest and unreached areas, ensuring quality and appropriate products and services are available to all.

UNICEF works with the government at national, provincial and local levels to develop their capacity to deliver water, sanitation and hygiene services. Governments are encouraged to develop national strategies that are tailored to local priorities and needs, whilst addressing in particular the interests of the poor.

What we do

  • Support capacity development of the provincial and locallevel government to develop action plans to operationalize the national rural water supply, sanitation and hygiene strategy to effectively deliver on water, hygiene and sanitation.
  • Together with partners, strengthen national capacities to use monitoring in policy development, planning and resource allocation.
  • Build the capacity of the government to collect and disseminate accurate information on access to water and sanitation services, including disaggregated information on levels of access by vulnerable and marginalised groups.
  • Advocate for an increase in government resources by demonstrating the economic and social benefits of investment in water, sanitation and hygiene.
  • Continue to advocate for open markets and opportunities for sanitation marketing so that affordable sanitation options are made available to households.
  • Support the government to establish appropriate regulatory mechanisms to create a competitive environment that will attract private sector service providers to invest in water, sanitation and hygiene improvements in the country.

Improving capacity to deliver on water
© UNICEF Cambodia/Nicolas Axelrod


UNICEF has contributed significantly to policy dialogues that have led to the establishment of the Technical Working Group on Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene in 2007, the development of a National Strategic Action Plan for Arsenic Mitigation, and a National Strategy for Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene in 2010.

A sub-decree on National Sanitation Day signed by the Prime Minister in 2010 and a joint Prakas (Declaration) between the Ministry of Rural Development and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on school and community sanitation and hygiene were also key results of intensive collaboration with UNICEF.

These initiatives have led to stronger leadership of the Ministry of Rural Development in coordinating and leading the rural water supply, sanitation and hygiene sector.





Millennium Development Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

UNICEF’s work on water, sanitation and hygiene contributes to achieving target 3 of MDG 7: to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainableaccess to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

Increasing water and sanitation access for the poor has a fundamental impact on MDG measures related to poverty, gender equality, health and education.


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