PHNOM PENH, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Wednesday signed two agreements to provide 89 million U.S. dollars to Cambodia for improving rural areas' water supply and the country's financial sector development, said an ADB statement.
The deals were inked here by ADB country director for Cambodia Sunniya Durrani-Jamal and Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth, the statement said.
"The two programs support all four priority areas of the Rectangular strategy IV, which are human resource development through the improvement of public health care and nutrition; economic diversification by promoting financial and banking sector development; private sector development and employment by supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); and inclusive and sustainable development through the promotion of agricultural and rural development." Durrani-Jamal said.
She added that over 400,000 people will benefit from the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Services Sector Development Program through the construction and rehabilitation of 2,500 water supply and sanitation facilities, as well as the implementation of awareness campaigns in at least 400 villages across 10 Cambodian provinces.
Sustainable and reliable water supply and sanitation services remain scarce in Cambodia's rural areas, where about 77 percent of the country's total population of 16.4 million live, the statement said.
It added that in 2017, while 73 percent of rural households had access to improved water supply, only 11 percent of those had piped water supply. Meanwhile, 56 percent of rural residents had access to improved sanitation, and about 41 percent of rural residents still practice open defecation, which can cause diarrhea and other public health problems.
For the Inclusive Financial Sector Development Program, it will support the government's efforts to develop an efficient and stable financial sector that promotes greater financial inclusion and sustainable development, the statement said.
Key interventions will include improving access to finance, particularly for the poor, rural households, and SMEs, it said.
"The program will also enhance the stability of Cambodia's financial sector and upgrade financial infrastructure to support the introduction of new financial services and products," the statement said.
Financial sector in the Southeast Asian nation is in its early stages of development and is dominated by the banking and microfinance subsectors, it said, adding that while much has been achieved, access to finance remains limited, especially in rural areas.
"Almost one-third of the population is completely excluded, having no access to any form of financial services. Efforts to improve access to finance have been constrained by low levels of financial literacy," the statement said.