Message from the Prime Minister

Waste management

 

PILES of floating rubbish no longer ruin Kampot’s famous river sunsets, the way former district governor Neak Sovannary believed they had before resident’s attitudes towards littering began to change. 

The program that sparked that change could now form part of a valuable case study for district councils across the country, given the greater pressure they will soon be under to take responsibility for waste management. 

Although these districts were handed responsibility for solid waste management through the issuing of sub-decree number 113 in 2015, provincial administrations have continued to provide the service in almost all regions.

This was put down to a lack of technical training and guidance at district level.

Yet as districts are smaller and more in touch with the needs of their communities, it was believed they should be able to deliver a better quality service, resulting in better community hygiene and health outcomes, if they had the right tools. 

So on August 1, the National Committee for Sub-National Democratic Development secretariat (NCDDS) hosted a meeting of more than 400 district governors and councilors to help bridge this knowledge gap.

Armed with these additional resources, more districts will soon begin taking responsibility for waste services. 

However, as former Kampot district governor and current Tuekchhou district governor Neak Sovannary described, successful implementation of this policy should be coupled with a push to change the attitudes of citizens towards waste management.

This was what the Kampot District Council did in 2010, when he was governor, by kicking off a number of educational programs. 

Financial support came from DELGOSEA- the partnership for Democratic Local Government in South-East Asia- and UNESCAP- the United Nation’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. 

Schools adopted programs to teach student how to separate organic and inorganic waste. 

Council members visited villages and communities, encouraging residents to use bins rather than dumping their rubbish. 

Market managers were instructed to separate their waste into different types and use rubbish services. 

A community compost center was created, and plans are in place to soon start selling the high-quality fertilizer. 

The district council also started fining those caught littering, although Mr Sovannary said only about 15 $5-10 fines were ever issued. 

In the governor’s opinion, the program sparked obvious changes- benefitting the environment, the tourism sector and most likely the health of citizens.

He believes the sub decree, requiring district councils to take on solid waste services, will not only validate these ongoing efforts, but provide a mechanism to broaden their scope. 

“Every meeting we have I will get up and talk about waste management,” Mr Sovannary said.

“Kampot was very messy (before this program started). Now I would like to see the rest of the country clean as well.”

***Further information about the sub decree and what will be required of district councils.***