Access to water and sanitation for vulnerable communities in Cambodia

Access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene improves people´s health which leads to lower health care costs. It also improves school attendance among children, especially for girls, which means more children have improved chances to complete their education. The H&M Foundation supports Plan International in their work in the remote province Ratanakiri in northern Cambodia, contributing to sustainable access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene, with a special focus on girls.

The first phase of this partnership brought about remarkable results. Marginalized children and their communities have adopted safe hygiene practices in relation to water and sanitation, for instance building and using latrines and hand washing with soap. There is also sustainable access to and use of clean drinking water, i.e. improved water sources and water treatment techniques. In addition, the access to clean water has resulted in a reduced walking time to the water collection points, valued time that is now spent on income generating work instead.

During the implementation period there has been a great focus on building local ownership and strong community engagement so when the first three-year phase of the partnership ended the responsibility to sustain the results was handed over to the community.

Scaling up the project

In the second phase of the project, running 2017-2020, the work is being scaled up to reach more communities in Ratanakiri and there is an increased focus on meeting the needs and rights of girls. Girls and women are often the worst affected groups that do not have easy access to clean water and sanitation. Menstrual hygiene is one area that cannot be underestimated. Girls face huge taboos, just for having a period, and the inability to deal with menstruation in school premises means girls miss school each month. Clean water brings health benefits for girls and enables them to profit from increased access to education, and in the long run greater economic security and better protection from violence and stigma.

We are working to achieve the following sustainable outcomes:

  • A system approach to promote gender and inclusion of girls, tackling taboos around girl’s menstruation through a holistic approach;
  • Increased use of innovative methods to support income generating activities for the communities;
  • Stronger efforts to ensure effective communication with the indigenous community members;
  • Empowering children and youth to mobilize their communities against problems and building dialogue between communities and local government in order to increase government support for and investment in hygiene, sanitation and water supply interventions.

Expected results


people in 115 villages have adopted positive sanitation and hygiene behaviour practices.


commune councils have been reached by capacity building on water and sanitation hygiene.


Provincial Action Plan for Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene has been implemented as a result of effective advocacy efforts.

  • Total donation: 6 million Swedish krona
  • People reached by 2020: 40,000
  • Partners: Plan International

Related News


Young farmer Phang Lab lives in a small village in north-eastern Cambodia. Until recently, she and her neighbours had to defecate in the nearby forest, causing diseases and other health issues. A three-year project with Plan International and H&M Foundation set out to change that.

“My family is much healthier now”

Mrs. Sol Haluen is a 22-year-old mother of two young daughters. She lives with her husband and family in Nay village in the Rattanak Kiri province in Cambodia. Mrs. Haluen, like most villagers in the area, have been using the bushes as toilets since they were young.