The growing incidence of water borne diseases in Cambodia poses a major threat to its population. There are many programmes run by the WHO and the UNICEF that are intended to help developing countries to cope against this mammoth of a problem. Cambodia is one of those developing, rather underdeveloped countries that is a participant in these organisations programmes. Cambodia is a part of UNICEFS WASH programme since 1990. As mentioned earlier, Diarrhoea is a major water borne disease’ affecting Cambodians and mainly children, causing stunting and impaired brain development.
A simple method such as washing hands with soap and water and practicing proper cleaning methods after defecation, along with other sanitary cautions like using sanitary pads and proper cleaning of the intimate area for girls especially, can significantly reduce their susceptibility to these diseases. Cambodia has shown steady growth in meeting water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) targets, however it isnt sufficient. Despite improvements in WASH practices, the country shows one of the highest rates of open defecation in the region, eight out of ten Cambodians defecate openly in fields, in open water bodies, or other spaces that arent properly confined rather than using a toilet.
This waste stays in the water sources and becomes a non-improved drinking water source, since the human waste hasnt hygienically been separated from the drinking water. Whats shocking is that this water is still consumed by one in every three Cambodians. According to UNICEF, a concerted, holistic and systemic approach is needed to promote WASH in Cambodia. Concerted meaning that progress in each aspect depends on the presence of the other aspect for basic hygiene we need clean water for which better sanitary practices meaning a toilet system. Holistic because health and education need to go hand in hand to promote sustainable improvements. And systematic because the cause needs to be tackled from a home to a national level. With the help of UNICEF/WHO joint wash programme there has been a fair amount of improvement in Cambodias water contamination issue. Although poverty, adequate storage methods and space still show resistance and to the success of this policy. (UNICEF 2003)
According to the World Health Organization (WHO)/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for WASH programme, the 22% of rural Cambodian population that had access to improved water, went up to 70% in 2015. Despite the progress, one in three Cambodians in rural areas still lack access to an improved water source. Indigenous ethnic minorities are particularly vulnerable due to socio-economic exclusion and comparatively poorer access to drinking water sources. (Bernard Collignon 2016) Continued global fossil fuel use and the changing climate means that Cambodians are faced with an escalating challenge to overcome the potential health impacts of extreme weather events of unprecedented magnitude or duration. Chief among these will be water-borne or water-related diseases, such as diarrhoeal illnessone of the preeminent health burdens in developing countries. (Grace I. Davies 2014 Dec 23) It is hoped that through this research we were able to shed some light onto the ongoing battle between South East Asia and water borne diseases, and also brought to notice the alarming incidents of water related diseases in developing countries such as Cambodia. All in all the key to prevent all sorts of water related diseases seems to be to maintain a sanitary standard in your personal surroundings and also as a community.
Although there is an abundance of empirical evidence in the international literature of increased incidence of water-borne disease related to extreme weather events such as floods, there is not enough data available on the other aspects of water related diseases like watershed diseases and also preventive measures adapted by the government. The discrepancy between the literature review and these findings could also be due to inherent inaccuracies of the data and incompleteness of datasets. The true diarrhoea incidence may be under-reported due to financial, technical and/or systemic limitations in the context of an under-resourced, developing country, particularly at times of disaster. Another drawback was the time constraint as well as a world limit that prevented us from more adequately presenting this review paper. (Organization 30 September 2004 )
Bernard Collignon, HYDROCONSEIL. 2016. Global Evaluation of UNICEFs Drinking Water Supply Programming in Rural Areas and Small Towns . UNICEF.
BUREAU, POPULATION REFERENCE. December 20, 2002. Children in Cambodia Face High Mortality Rate.
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Grace I. Davies, Lachlan McIver, Yoonhee Kim, Masahiro Hashizume,Steven Iddings,and Vibol Chan. 2014 Dec 23. Water-Borne Diseases and Extreme Weather Events in Cambodia: Review of Impacts and Implications of Climate Change. Int J Environ Res Public Health.
Kim Irvine, T.P. Murphy, M. Sampson, V. Dany, Stephen Vermette and T. Tang. 2006. An Overview of Water Quality Issues in Cambodia. Buffalo State College – SUNY; NWRI, New Technologies Research; Resource Development Int; Royal University of Phnom Penh.
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World Health Organization. 2010. Drinking water quality in South East Asia region. Regional Office for South-East Asia.
(Cambodia Environmental Health Country profile 30 September 2004)