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Sanitation in Challenging Environments

We are working with our partners to make Sustainable Development Goal 6 a reality for millions living in challenging environments
Almost 2.4 billion people worldwide lack access to toilets and practice open defecation. This increases the risk of disease, resulting in ill health, malnutrition, stunting and poor development outcomes for communities.

Challenging environments compound these issues because even when standard sanitation systems are available these designs typically don’t work in areas prone to flooding, high groundwater, and drought. This makes it even harder for these communities to access good sanitation.

What do we do?

Living and working in the country, our experienced technical professionals are not only skilled in the development of appropriate SCE systems, but also in community-led design and engagement. We work hand in hand with communities and local organisations to develop effective and approproate sanitation solutions for the hardest to reach, and to ensure that these systems are adopted and maintained.

We also share knowledge and advocate, to increase awareness of the issues faced by the hardest to reach, and to provide a platform for collaboration, knowledge sharing and innovation.


This program is supported by ANCP and Australia Aid.

World Toilet Day

EWB is a supporter of World Toilet Day November 19 and aims to achieve SDG 6 which includes targets on adequate sanitation



Not all toilets are created equal

This World Toilet Day we are talking about toilets for the millions of people who live in flood prone, mountainous and remote areas – challenging environments where standard sanitation systems don’t work.

Without access to sanitation, millions of people still practice open defecation, leaving them vulnerable to disease and pollution. We believe everyone has the right to access a toilet, and in Cambodia our national staff like Piseth Kim, train and mentor local engineers and enterprises to design appropriate sanitation, and advocate for SCE policies; helping to make SDG6 a reality.

“I was born in about 50km from Phnom Penh. It’s not as crowded as Phnom Penh and people earn a living by farming. There are a lot of mountains and valleys in this area and it can be a difficult place to live,” says Piseth Kim a lead facilitator with EWB’s Sanitation in Challenging Environments (SCE) program in Cambodia. “My Bachelors degree is in Water Resource Engineering, and afterwards I did a Masters in Environmental Engineering. Cambodia has the biggest freshwater area in South East Asia, but still we can’t manage it properly. The first thing I can do now is to bring all I have learned into my working environment.”

The Human Centred Approach to Sanitation

Engineers Without Borders Australia uses human centred design to empower people in Cambodia to be the change they want to see in their communities

Just two months before this picture was taken, Mr Chin had never heard the word toilet before. He and his family, including his two young children and elderly mother, had been using nearby bushland to defecate in.

Since then, Mr Chin has invested his own time and savings to build a latrine for his family, and has helped several of his neighbours build toilets too. He is now a ‘champion’ for toilet construction in the rural village of Reay Peay, despite never thinking he would be able to afford his own

“I feel bad because I have been to other countries where they don’t have to care about sanitation anymore because it is already in place, but on the Tonle Sap they don’t even know that they should care about it, that it is their basic right to have access to appropriate sanitation. I want to change this,” says Piseth “I am working on sanitation now to bring proper technology and solutions to people who live in flood prone communities. I think the job I am doing can contribute a small part of the solution.”
Piseth Kim

EWB SCE Lead Facilitator, Monash University

For any queries about this program, please contact E: sceproject@ewb.org.au