Sanitation innovations safeguarding healthy homes and livelihoods on Lake Tonle Sap

A Cambodian man stands in an industrial work yard in rural Siem Reap with his left elbow resting on top of a cylindrical concrete latrine component and smiling at the camera. He is surrounded by large upright concrete cylinders and green shrubs and trees and a pile of sand can be seen in the background.

Mr. Khut Khon, an iDE sanitation entrepreneur, has expanded his business to promote and offer the Sky Latrine – an innovative latrine that addresses the challenges of households living in seasonally flooded environments (iDE / Tet Chann)


Meet Mr. Khut Khon, an iDE sanitation entrepreneur who is helping to safeguard the health of communities and the environment around Cambodia's Lake Tonle Sap in rural Siem Reap. Each year, the freshwater lake swells to around five times its size in the rainy season, flooding communes along its banks for up to six months at a time. 

People living along the Tonle Sap are also highly affected by flash floods and storms. As the climate changes, the severity and volatility of weather patterns are expected to increase, leading to heavier, more damaging storms in the rainy season and decreased water quality in the dry season. Traditional latrines are ineffective and unsafe in this sanitation challenging environment, and many households simply cannot afford a toilet at all. 

Like many others on the lake, households in Mr. Khon's community of Kampong Khleang are mainly dependent on fishing for food and income. They are suffering from a declining fish population, due in part to overfishing and water pollution. Households in this community are also struggling to get access to affordable and climate-resilient sanitation products and services, putting their health and well-being and the health of aquatic life at high risk.

Mr. Khon described conditions in the commune: “Kampong Kleang’s environment is not clean. I think soil and water are contaminated. This is because not every household has a toilet to use, and most of the toilets installed are not functional during the rainy season when the water level is high. During the dry season, most of the people relieve themselves in small bushes within their communities."  

Supported by Australia through Water for Women, iDE and Mr. Khon are helping to improve this situation by providing households with affordable, aspirational, and climate-resilient solutions like the Sky Latrine – an elevated latrine that enables year-round use and safely contains waste, preventing septage from contaminating the waterway and local environment. 


“It is more challenging for us to work in this area. For normal areas, we can install up to three toilets a day. But, in this flood-prone area, it took us three days to complete installation of one toilet in some cases. The most challenging parts for us are the smell and the soil that is too sticky, with a lot of wastes such as plastic and fishing gears to remove.”

Mr. Khon


Four sanitation workers are installing an iDE Sky Latrine at a home in a rural Siem Reap location. One holds a long blue pipe above their head, which is connected to another in the underside of the floor of a stilted house. Two are leaning over a nearby concrete pit securing a lid using a trowel with mortar and a drill. The ground below their feet is wet and muddy. A neighbouring house on stilts with thatched roof, yard with a clothes line hanging colourful garments and lush vegetation can be see in the background.

Mr. Khon and his staff install a Sky Latrine in Kampong Kleang commune, Siem Reap (iDE / Rana Abdel-Sattar) 


Despite these challenges, Mr. Khon is happy with his business, as he can promote safe sanitation and hygiene by offering a climate-resilient toilet to the most marginalised groups in his community. Mr. Khon has already delivered 30 Sky Latrines since the start of 2023.

In rural Siem Reap province, iDE is partnering with latrine business owners and sanitation entrepreneurs to deliver climate-resilient and inclusive toilets and strengthen the markets and systems that underpin sanitation services. Through the Water for Women Climate-Resilient Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Scale-Up Program, iDE aims to reach an estimated 19,906* people with safe and climate-resilient sanitation by the end of 2024.


November 19th is World Toilet Day and this year's theme, 'Accelerating change' reflects the urgency of sanitation action to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 - safe water and sanitation for all - and all other SDGs by 2030.

The global sanitation crisis poses a threat to nature and everyone’s health, but especially women, girls, people with disabilities, people from sexual and gender minority and other marginalised groups, who are disproportionately affected by unsafe sanitation and climate change.

Adaptation and mitigation go hand-in-hand for sanitation. Safe sanitation has the power to significantly reduce methane emissions and protect the health and well-being of people and ecosystems.

The time is now for sanitation action!


*Project targets are based on partner Civil Society Organisations (CSO) project baseline studies. Project targets are updated periodically in response to changes in context as appropriate.


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