The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $180 million loan to help three cities in Cambodia improve urban infrastructure and boost economic competitiveness.
According to an ADB’s press release issued this morning, the Livable Cities Investment Project will help more than 140,000 residents in Bavet, Kampot, and Poipet access better wastewater and solid waste management services. It will help the cities reduce flooding by upgrading their urban stormwater and drainage systems. The project also aims to strengthen the capacity of municipal governments to deliver urban services.
“More Cambodians are moving to secondary cities, but limited access to urban infrastructure and services, as well as environmental degradation, has worsened living conditions and hurt urban economic growth,” said ADB Urban Development Specialist Wei Kim Swain. “The project will help the government upgrade sanitation and waste management and raise living standards, especially among low-income households vulnerable to the health, economic, and environmental effects of poor sanitation. It will also help the municipalities attract private sector investment and create jobs.”
Cambodia’s urban population rose to 6 million in 2019 from 2.6 million in 2008, which has posed a challenge for municipal governments to provide services. In 2019, about 47 percent of Cambodia’s urban population had access to piped water supply in dwellings. Untreated sewage is commonly discharged into the open environment through combined sewers and road drains or indirectly via open canals. Solid waste services are limited. A large proportion of solid waste is left uncollected, dumped in open canals, the open environment, or burned.
Cambodia’s National Strategic Development Plan, 2019–2023 aims to address those challenges. The plan prioritises investments in public infrastructure, including water supply and sanitation, and sets a national target for all cities to provide safe water by 2025 and strengthen solid waste management.
ADB’s country partnership strategy for Cambodia, 2019–2023 supports economic growth along the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Southern Economic Corridor, where Bavet, Kampot, and Poipet are located. Bavet and Poipet are entry points to Viet Nam and Thailand, and the port city Kampot has become a tourism destination.
In Bavet and Poipet, the project will support the rehabilitation of existing canals and the construction of a wastewater treatment plant, sewerage network, new stormwater drains, and landfills. In Kampot, the project will expand the sewerage network and lay out a plan for local governments to become self-sufficient service providers.
The project will deliver a road map to boost revenue collection by municipal governments, which have relied heavily on subsidies from the central government to provide services. The road map will include tariff reform to cover city operations and maintenance and a plan to ensure efficient service delivery, including an assessment of opportunities for private sector participation.
ADB’s new project will be supported by a $2 million technical assistance grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction. The technical assistance will focus on the sustainable and climate-resilient development of the cities, including improving land use planning, as well as institutional capacity and governance. ADB will work with the Ministry of Land Management Urban Planning and Construction in coordinating with the participating cities and the ministries for national regulatory and policy reforms.