According to the Joint Monitoring Programme, 64% of Cambodians have access to water. GRET has been striving to increase access to safe drinking water since 2001, by supporting small private operators. Below is an update on the situation with Ek Sonn Chan, Under-Secretary of State for Water, at the Cambodian Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy.According to the Joint Monitoring Programme, 64% of Cambodians have access to water. GRET has been striving to increase access to safe drinking water since 2001, by supporting small private operators. Below is an update on the situation with Ek Sonn Chan, Under-Secretary of State for Water, at the Cambodian Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy.
In Touch. What is the government’s policy to increase access to safe drinking water in Cambodia?
Ek Sonn Chan. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target an 80% increase in the supply of drinking water. Recently, the Government appealed to international donors to fund a plan of action to achieve these objectives. Urban populace needs modern tap-supplied drinking water, which can only be ensured by water operators. The ministry is currently conducting reforms to facilitate public and private investments in the water sector, and to formulate technical, financial and commercial recommendations to public operators in order to help them enhance their capacity to supply water in provinces.
In Touch. Private water suppliers play a key role in enhancing access to drinking water, what are the challenges facing them?
ESC. The challenges facing the sector relate to regulatory technical, marketing and financial problems. I believe that AFD (French Development Agency) should establish a line of credit for small private operators, but there is also a need to help operators access these funds and provide advisory support in technical, financial and administrative issues. The government is setting up an association of water operators in Cambodia which intends to facilitate experience sharing, technical cooperation to achieve economies of scale, the centralization of equipment and materials, to serve as a training centre and foster competition and thereby increasing performance.
In Touch. What kind of collaboration does the ministry have with GRET?
ESC. GRET has done a lot for the sector: conducting a survey on subsidised connections for the government, training technical and sales agents and inventing models to support initiatives at the local level. I have just learned that you have launched the ISEA project [Ed: creating a service centre for water supply operators]; and it would be very interesting if private operators could be given funding for their investment projects along with technical and administrative assistance. GRET teams have garnered experiences in different countries, and that is why we always need their reform recommendations and proposals to take a further step forward.