Measuring Rural Water Supply Access in Cambodia

The new WSP publication, "Measuring Rural Water Supply Access: Findings from a Comparative Analysis of Cambodian National Surveys", focuses on the Cambodia Rural Water Supply Coverage Analysis Project. The project was implemented at the request of the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) and the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD). It aimed to i) document any major gaps obtained from the Ministry of Planning for the period of 1996 - 2005; ii) report coverage trends at the provincial and national levels based on official data and research using Socio-Economic Survey data.

The reason for the formulation of the project was the release of two national data sets, showing a marked discrepancy in rural water supply (RWS) coverage rates between them. Specifically, the Cambodia Inter-censal Population Survey (CIPS) showed that 39.6% of the rural population has access to safe water, while the Cambodia Socio Economic Survey (CSES) showed that fully 60.1% of the rural population has access to safe water; a difference of more than 20 percentage points.

Some of the major recommendations highlighted in the publication comprise:

  • Government and sector agencies should formulate an official definition of access to rural water supply services. This definition should encompass the classification of improved and unimproved sources, as well as considerations of water quantity and source accessibility. It is recommended that the definition take into account (but does not necessarily copy) existing internationally accepted definitions.
  • The use of the terms "safe water source" and "unsafe water source" in official targets and definitions should be abandoned in favor of "improved source" and "unimproved source".
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