Public/private partnership to supply drinking water

With less than 25% of the population enjoying access to drinking water, Cambodia is in the bottom ten of countries in this field. Since 2001, the Gret(1) association has been working with the Cambodian ministry of rural development to tackle the problem with local private sector support.

Humanitarian and Development

Takeo and Kompot Provinces, Cambodia

Thierry Vandevelde

20,000 € to the Selection Committee at 2004/07/06

Project leader

Gret (Groupe de recherche et d'échanges techniques)

Poor quality underground water, surface water (ponds, rivers, etc.) which is untreated, due to inexistent or badly maintained hydraulic infrastructures, and therefore unfit for human consumption. The upshot is that less than a quarter of Cambodians have access to drinking water. Worse still, many are unaware of the health dangers posed by poor quality water.
Faced with this situation, and as the country struggles to put its war-torn past behind it, MDR(2) has set itself the goal of establishing a supply of drinking water for the entire rural population by 2025. To this end, it is encouraging the participation of the dynamic local private sector in a country where numerous services and infrastructures have to be rebuilt. In this context, it has called on the support of Gret, an NGO(3) which has been active in Cambodia for over ten years as well as a Cambodian engineering firm, Kosan. Veolia Waterforce/Waterdev experts played a key role in constructing the Angkor Borey water treatment plant and supply network.

An example for others

In 2001 they participated in the joint launch of the Mirep (mini drinking water distribution system) programme starting with the region of Takeo, in southern Cambodia. Ten water treatment plants and a drinking water supply system in large communities (200 to 500 families) were first constructed in late 2005. The Veolia foundation participated in funding the ninth project in Angkor Borey. Thanks to the 20,000 euros grant, this ancient historic region of Cambodia now has an efficient water treatment plant, equipped for example with a settling tank for sludge from the drinking water plant. The system has also been supplemented with a 12 m high water tower with a capacity of 50 m3, in order to supply the 6 km network with sufficient pressure. The drinking water plant was commissioned in March 2005.

Local involvement

Eighteen months after the operation of this new network began, 300 families, of the 900 living in the village, were connected and regularly paid their water bills. Besides, thanks to the encouragement of MDR, a customer management service was organized, with four full-time employees, one of them specialized in customer relations. Every month, the meters are thus read, the bills sent out and paid!
Using state-of-the-art technology (developed with Veolia Waterforce/Waterdev experts) which is affordable, easily maintained and locally sourced, Mirep can thus be rolled out to other regions of Cambodia in the medium-term and even the whole Indochinese peninsula. Already, in early 2005, new worksites were launched in the Kampot region, and particularly in the commune of Prey Pkhoam.

1. Group for research and technological exchange
2. Cambodian minister for rural development
3. Non-governmental organisation