by Monday Yakubu
WISE, in partnership with Neakpoan Organisation for Development, NOD, has constructed five latrines for five poor households in Phnom Village, Tbong Khmum Province, Cambodia. This was in fulfilment of the proposed latrine construction subsidy pilot scheme as discussed, agreed and planned with the villagers last year.
The recipients were carefully selected through a rigorous and transparent process using criteria that was developed together with the community members. Four out of five households – Hai Hong, Hom Lean, Um Phai and Sok Rorn – were granted 80% subsidy of US$240 while Sina (who has a physical disability) was granted 100% subsidy of US$300.
No doubt, the successful execution of the latrine construction subsidy pilot scheme was a landmark achievement. “This time, we provided subsidies to five households who otherwise would not have been able to construct their own latrine. For one of the recipients, Sina, who is paralysed from waist-down, we also consulted closely with her to design a latrine which she would be able to use, not only to defecate, but also to bathe and wash her clothes,” said Yoke Pean, WISE’s co-founder.
In addition, Mr. Ero of NOD said the two organisations “collaborate” to execute a project for “success” and consequently become “stronger”. He said partnership creates opportunities for organisations to work together, share knowledge and experience, and raise funds for project.
The implementation of the latrine construction scheme in Phnom Village by WISE, in partnership with NOD, is a step in the right direction as WASH-related issues remain a great challenge in Cambodia. Sophorn, a volunteer with WISE, said that she supported Phnom sanitation project in various capacity to help improve sanitation conditions in her country. While Panha, also a volunteer, said that the people in rural areas are struggling with the problems of access to clean water, poor sanitation and hygiene conditions, hence, the need to improve the quality of their life.
The latrines constructed for the recipients of the subsidy will not only improve the sanitation conditions of their households but relieve some adults of the stresses of open defecation. For instance, in order to avoid being seen while defecating in the open, Sina, who is physically challenged, wakes up between the early hours of 5 and 6 in the morning to defecate. “It’s uncomfortable for my family to defecate in the open,” said Mr. Um Phai, a recipient of the subsidy. Aside from this, Mr. Um Phai was worried that his grandchildren would get bitten by poisonous insects. Mr. Um Phai thanked WISE and NOD for enabling him to construct a latrine for his family.
Nevertheless, executing a project of this type is not without any challenges. And, of course, WISE and NOD had some. “Our main challenge was to ensure that our selection process was fair and transparent, so that the households selected were those that really needed the subsidy,” said Yoke. But at the end, the exercise was successful because the team members who were involved in the selection process remained objective, and kept in mind that they were there to serve the households with the greatest financial need.
Even though the five latrines have been constructed, NOD and WISE will be visiting monthly to collect repayments from the two recipients yet to finish repaying their contribution. We will also monitor how the recipients are using the latrines and their satisfaction towards the design. At the same time, data on the financial situation of households would be collected which would be used for further decision making in the future.
The Phnom sanitation project is powered by National Youth Council‘s Singapore-ASEAN Youth Fund.