Groundbreaking ceremonies for an expanded water treatment plant in Phnom Penh were held Monday, as officials try to reconcile a growing urban population with limited access to fresh water.
Only about 60 percent of the city’s people have access to clean water, with the rest left to find it from other sources or face the risk of disease from unsanitary water, Prime Minister Hun Sen said.
“Improving access to clean water is key to improving the welfare of the population,” said Hun Sen, adding that his own son died in 1979 because of a dirty water supply.
“The lack of clean water is the source of many diseases, creating health risks and hazards to the livelihoods of the people,” Hun Sen said.
Japan gave Phnom Penh a $21.5 million grant to refurbish its water treatment plant in Phum Prek. Expected to be completed by March 2004, the project’s aim is to increase the capacity of the water plant by 42 percent, or 50,000 cubic meters per day, a statement from the Japanese Embassy said.
The project includes plans to improve and expand existing water intake facilities, install more pipelines, rehabilitate water treatment facilities, expand a distribution reservoir and reinforce distribution pumps, the embassy said.
Other assistance for the Phum Prek project came from the French government, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, Phnom Penh Governor Chea Sophara said Monday.
Plans also call for more equipment to test the water quality, said Ek Soun Chan, director of the municipal water supply authority.
Phnom Penh’s population is growing five percent annually, putting additional strains on access to clean water.
The city’s facilities currently produce enough water to meet half of the demand, which is about 230,000 cubic meters per day, water officials have said.
The city hopes to provide clean water access to 95 percent of the city by 2005, Chea Sophara said.