By Chakriya Khiev


Ms Pa Visaseka is a fourth-year student of Water and Environmental Engineering (WEE) at the Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC). She is passionate about clean water development and hopes to see all Cambodians have access to clean water.


Ms Seka was very excited to join a visit organised and led by Australia's flagship economic development program, the Cambodia Australia Partnership for Resilient Economic Development (CAPRED). The visit was to the water treatment plant at the Lvea and Sra Ngae Water Supply Station in Kampong Cham province. 


30 WEE students and lecturers from ITC joined this visit, including 12 students and 3 lecturers who were female. 


The group visited three different locations, showcasing the process of water treatment and supply, including a raw pump station near the Mekong riverbank, a water treatment plant, transmission pumps, a sub-station, and a booster pump house.


"I am so happy to be on this field visit," said Ms Seka. "Before, I only learned the theories in class, but now I have seen a real water supply station that provides water to the community. This trip has helped me to understand more about the process of water treatment, the technical aspects of water infrastructure, and the challenges in this sector." "In the future, I want to continue my study in water treatment because I want to contribute my knowledge to help strengthen the clean water supply sector in Cambodia," she added.


The students met with Mr Dy Piseth, the owner of the Lvea and Sra Ngae Water Supply Station. Mr Piseth shared his experiences and knowledge in running the water supply station, including the business model, technical and financial issues, legal processes, opportunities, and challenges.


"The visit organised by CAPRED is very useful because it enabled students to see the real practices in the water supply business," said Mr Piseth. "They are able to know what the challenges in the water supply business are, as well as the skills needed." "We still need more human resources for this sector," Mr Piseth added.


“We have been looking for a professional water engineer to work at our station, but we have not found one yet.” 


Ms Hang Leakhena, a researcher and lecturer at ITC, appreciated the sharing of knowledge by Mr Piseth, who has extensive experience in the sector.


She noted that the number of students enrolling in WEE is increasing every year, including female students.


The Lvea and Sra Ngae Water Supply Station is one of the 80 private water operators supported by Australia using an innovative financial model called Viability Gap Financing (VGF). This approach helped leverage investment from private water companies to upgrade and expand their water infrastructure and networks to provide piped treated water to rural Cambodians.


Currently, this water station can supply piped treated water to six communes and 51 villages. It has the capacity to produce 4,000 cubic meters of clean water per day and has connected more than 3,600 households. This has reduced households’ costs to purchase water and has contributed to improved health and livelihoods.


Australia also provided water connection subsidies to vulnerable households and people with disabilities to ensure reliable clean piped water was accessible for all. 


Building on the effort to help Cambodia achieve its goal of universal access to clean water by 2030, Australia, through CAPRED, continues to work with the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation, and other relevant key players to advance access to clean water in Cambodia. 


Part of CAPRED’s strategy is to increase sectoral capacity through robust participation from relevant government ministries, the private sector, development partners, youth, and clean water professionals for sustainable sector development. 


Australia is committed to helping Cambodia achieve universal access to clean water through providing supports to private water operators to build and modernise their clean water infrastructure and expand water connections to more people. The program will engage more young water engineers, especially graduates, to join the efforts to develop clean water services in Cambodia.