The Cambodia Water Crisis

The Cambodia water crisis is steadily improving, but there is still work to do. Although half the country has access to a basic water supply, only 24% is safely managed water. Of the 15.6 million people in the country, more than two million are still using surface water for drinking. Plus, only half of the people have access to improved sanitation and an astonishing 6.4 million people are still practicing open defecation.[1][2] 90% of the most vulnerable people live in rural, hard to reach places.

Cambodia water crisis facts

Though Cambodia faces serious challenges, there is hope to end the water crisis. The country is transforming steadily, and people are creating better, healthier lives for themselves, their families, and their neighbors.

Cambodia Today: A Country on the Rise

Cambodia, with a population of roughly 15.6 million people, is a Southeast Asian nation, located in the Indochina Peninsula and bordering Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. Over the last two decades, Cambodia has experienced strong economic growth and has seen a significant decrease in poverty. In 2009, the country even achieved the Millennium Development Goal to halve poverty. With all the growth and development, there is still much work to do for vulnerable people living in rural areas.

Cambodia Water Crisis - children in water
Children in Cambodia fish, bathe, and drink from swampy waters.

In those rural areas where Lifewater focuses, we have identified specific challenges. For example, in children under 5, water-borne diseases, such as diarrhea have a high prevalence, at 74%. Although most people are able to use enough water per day, according to the World Health Organization standards, 87% still reported having a shortage of water. Sanitation is a serious issue in these communities, with a staggering 83% without access to an improved latrine and still practicing open defecation.

Download our Svay Leu and Borkeo Baseline Reports for more information.

At Lifewater, we are dedicated to ending the water and sanitation crisis in Cambodia. To date, we have helped 14,857 people in Svay Leu, a rural part of Cambodia, gain access to clean water and improved sanitation and hygiene. In Borkeo, we recently launched a program that aims to help 7,211 people. As part of our Vision of a Healthy Village program, we have certified 884 Healthy Homes in Svay Leu.

Lifewater’s Vision of a Healthy Village is a community-led program effecting small changes – constructing improved latrines and handwashing devices; implementing the usage of drying racks for dishes; keeping home compounds clean; and keeping water clean – house by house, village by village. In the next five years, we aim to help 100,000 people in rural Cambodia gain access to clean water and improved sanitation and hygiene.

How You Can Help The Cambodia Water Crisis

You can make a real difference for vulnerable people in Cambodia. One way to make a difference is to sponsor a Village Water Project with Lifewater, to bring transformation to a community of people in Cambodia. When you sponsor a village, you get to choose the village, view the communities and homes on a map, and see your impact. Sponsoring a Village Water Project is a great way to be connected to the people you love and serve.

Cambodia Water Crisis - New Well
A new well at a school means better health for children.

Stories from the Field

Meet El Lot, a widow who shows us the power of never giving up. After losing her husband, she kept working hard to take care of her children. After learning the importance of clean water through Lifewater, she saved to get a ceramic filter for the family’s water, and to build a safe latrine. Read more here: How a Poor Widow Overcame Water Poverty in Cambodia

Meet Phorn Pan, a mother dedicated to keeping her children healthy. After discovering how contaminated water was making her family sick, she saved money for three months to build a safe latrine. Read more here: How Lifewater is Ending the Global Sanitation Crisis

These are two stories, among others, of how people are overcoming the Cambodia water crisis thanks to loving people like you. Join us in bringing clean water, health, and hope to more people in Cambodia.

[1] World Health Organization, Cambodia Country Profile, last updated in 2015,

[2] WHO and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, World WASH Data, last updated in 2015,

Choose a Village. Change a Life.