Southeast Asia


Water Challenges in Cambodia

Cambodia’s agricultural sector is its primary water user, accounting for up to 96% of total water consumption each year.  Rice production is central to this, but rice productivity in Cambodia is low compared with surrounding countries.

Despite the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) making significant efforts to increase the area available to irrigation, water scarcity in the dry season continues to impact the rural communities which reside in the delta and floodplains and rely on water to sustain their livelihoods.

While low rainfall is the main cause of water scarcity, Cambodia lacks water storage infrastructure that would enable it to better handle periods of water shortages. Its existing irrigation system is vulnerable to the tremendous volume of water in the rainy season and cannot store water for dry season consumption.

There is a growing reliance on groundwater in some regions, however in many parts of the country it is unsuitable for agriculture and human consumption due to issues such as arsenic contamination. Furthermore, available surface water is commonly polluted through open defecation in rural areas as well as unsustainable agricultural and industrial practices.

With water resources critical to Cambodia’s economic and human development, effective water resource management will be essential in securing the wellbeing and prosperity of the country into the future. 

AWP’s support to Cambodia

AWP’s activities in Cambodia have included support for modern, effective and sustainable irrigation, district level water resource management, water scarcity and disability inclusion. 

AWP supported an activity to build irrigation capacity within the Government of Cambodia through introducing modern approaches to irrigation performance measurement, establishing a framework for Cambodia and piloting the framework in a number of Cambodian irrigation schemes. 

AWP has also provided to support to strengthen inclusive governance and increasing capacity at the sub-national level for water resources management (WRM) in Cambodia. A series of training sessions with the district government focused on gender sensitive and inclusive WRM planning; investment planning with WRM and climate change integration; flood and drought resilience measurements; climate-resilient water safety planning; and accountability scorecards for piped water operators. The resulting WRM Plan integrates water security and climate resilient WASH concepts.

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