The Global Sanitation Fund-supported programme in Cambodia


In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, WSSCC has provided the country’s  partners with guidance about reprogramming, allowing funds to be directed to preventing, delaying and containing COVID-19 in line with government and advice from the World Health Organization (WHO). More detailed country information can be found here.

Executing Agency:
Plan Cambodia
Programme duration:
Programme Coordinating Mechanism:
Chaired by the Ministry for Rural Development
National Coordinator: 
Dr Chea Samnang, head of the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development, Council of Ministers


In line with the vision to be an Open Defecation Free (ODF) nation and to accelerate towards SDG 6.2 achievements, in 2019, CRSHIP continued to promote basic hygiene and sanitation, delivering significant results against ODF targets and surpassing the programme’s objectives.

At national level, the programme continued to work closely with the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD), supporting the formulation of the second National Action Plan 2019-2023 (NAP) on rural sanitation, MRD’s roadmap for achieving universal sanitation coverage by 2025. Under this plan, the government aims to increase coverage of sanitation in rural areas to 90 percent by 2023 and, with a significant shift in approach, is targeting five provinces to become model open defecation-free provinces by 2023. CRSHIP is supporting the government in the roll-out of the National Action Plan and adapting its programming accordingly.

Advocacy and capacity development: Through CRSHIP, the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) has carried out extensive advocacy work at the subnational level, with communes and villages, raising the profile of sanitation in the local government’s agenda and addressing efforts on access to sanitation for vulnerable populations. On Cambodia’s national sanitation day in November 2019, subnational level government officials participated in an institutional triggering led by Kamal Kar, the pioneer of the Community-Led-Total-Sanitation approach. Participants included PDRD Directors and Chairs of Provincial Working Groups (PWGs). The event was an opportunity to further enhance institutional engagement in the hygiene and sanitation sector.

Over the year, CRSHIP also continued to support a range of other activities at the national level, providing technical inputs through hosting and participating in technical working group meetings; reviewing and editing guidelines; and sharing research studies and program assessments to influence guideline development.

Innovation and learning: During 2019 and 2020 the programme continued to exchange lessons learned and best practices with other WASH actors. In late January, CRSHIP participated to a peer-to-peer learning exchange hosted in Kathmandu, an event which provided Cambodian political leaders and civil servants from all levels of government with insights into how Nepal mobilized and coordinated its national sanitation campaign.

Furthermore, in 2019, with support provided by the programme to the MRD, Cambodia became a member of the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA), taking an important step toward enhancing sector coordination and government leadership.


With a population of 16 million (23% urban and 77% rural) and a GDP of 24 billion, the country still faces big challenges in scaling up sanitation. In fact, in Cambodia, at the household level, 59% of the population has reached basic sanitation, (JMP 2017: limited, basic and safely managed sanitation service levels) but 32% of the population, or 5 million people, still practice open defecation. The most recent data states 35% of school-age population does not have access to sanitation services at school.

Furthermore, despite the progress made with support of the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF), the advancement against the programme target for improved sanitation is still lagging behind. Linked to this, the target of 90% for sanitation coverage, required under the National Action Plan, is also affected by reported levels of latrine sharing. Both require increased attention on latrine building, in particular for the most vulnerable populations, who remain the most challenging to reach. In this context, the recent approval of a new Vulnerable Support Approach (VSA) allows the programme to provide timely and quality support to those who are unable to build latrines.

The sanitation and hygiene sector is still under-funded in Cambodia. Investments are lagging behind at both household and institutional levels, as well as for schools and health care facilities. Furthermore, the country continues to struggle due to its low sanitation capacity and coordination gaps at both national and sub-national levels.

Over the past year, the programme has envisioned a gradual handover of the implementation responsibilities to PDRDs in order to promote greater ownership, commitment and accountability. However, this transition presents a challenge due to capacity gaps in PDRDs. For this reason, capacity building is a key area of CRSHIP’s work. 

Future direction

For 2020, CRSHIP will continue to promote hygiene and sanitation, increasing its focus on Leaving No One Behind, Equality and Non-Discrimination, and Menstrual Health and Hygiene (MHH) initiatives in communities and schools. To promote MHH initiatives, the Executing Agency, Plan International Cambodia, is collaborating with the School Health Department (SHD) and the Provincial Office of Education, Youth and Sports (POEYS) to provide cascade training to community and school focal points on the minimum hygiene and sanitation standards.

With the technical support provided by WSSCC, CRSHIP will continue to work on strengthening sector policy and strategy frameworks through policy review and the development of SDG guidelines. WSSCC engagement will focus on strengthening national leadership and capacity for (cross-) sector coordination at the national and sub-national level, and on consolidating sector financing. Finally, WSSCC will provide technical support for CRSHIP transitional strategy to ensure further alignment with the National Action Plan. In line with the transition, CRSHIP will concentrate efforts in strengthening the capacities of PDRDs staff.