Cambodian Capital’s Water Supply Authority Thrives Under Leadership of Ek Sonn Chan
Historically, the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, thrived by the rivers of Tonle Sap and the Mekong. However, decades of conflicts left the water supply system running low until the 1990s. In 1993, Ek Sonn Chan was appointed as general director of the city’s water supply authority.
Together with his team, he managed to refurbish the whole supply system, introduce cost-effective billing and payment collection methods, as well as management to provide water to almost all of the city’s residents.
“The PPWSA has successfully fought corruption and shown this can be achieved in a developing country on a large-scale basis using simple but effective management techniques that are based on well-accepted business principles and strategies. As a self-sufficient company, operating without subsidies from the state, PPWSA provides 24-hour service and 90% coverage to a city of 1.3 million and fully recovers its costs as it continues to develop both its infrastructure and management,” said the International Award Jury in its citation.
The PPWSA will receive the award during the World Water Week in Stockholm 2010, September 5 to 11.
“My team is encouraged by this prestigious award to carry on our mission to increase our collection efficiency, improve water regulation and deliver affordable water to the poor,” Chan said. “We will continue to work to provide water continuously for a price affordable by our society through good management and cost recovery practices and despite increases in electricity and other costs.”
In 1998, the PPWSA provided clean drinking water to all households in the city area. By 2008, its customer base had increased nine-fold, which lead to higher profitability. Water losses due to leakages in pipes and pumps declined from 72% in 1993 to 6% by 2008, which is very low in an international comparison. Meanwhile, the bill collection ratio reached over 98%, which improved the PPWSA’s costs-recovery.
Today, the authority meets international standards as it provides services to its customers.
According to Chan, the road ahead is full of ambition. “Our future goals pave a challenging road ahead, as we aim to expand water provision at the same rates and standards to Phnom Penh’s suburban areas and surrounding regions. We’re working on reducing water loss from current 5.9% to 4% by 2020, which would place us in the same league as Singapore and Tokyo. We will continue to improve the efficiency of our staff and revision practices as we work towards providing water at a cheaper price.”