Village chief protecting his community from COVID-19

Mr Dun Yien, Snay Phleung Village Chief holding COVID-19 informational flyers for the community

"Prevention is better than cure." Mr. Dun Yien, Snay Phleung Village Chief and iDE Sanitation Champion, is ensuring his community is educated on COVID safe practices, including the critical importance of handwashing regularly with soap and water. (Photo: iDE Cambodia / Mr. Chy Teng)

As Village Chief for 18 years, Dun Yien has long been a champion for the welfare of his community. So, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the 65-year-old father of four, who holds the highest office in Snay Phleung village in the Cambodian province of Prey Veng, rose to the challenge.

An iDE village mobiliser gave Mr. Yien training about COVID-19, and provided Ministry of Health-endorsed leaflets and posters to share with his community. Armed with this knowledge, he visits households to discuss the topic, distributes the leaflets, and encourages community members to take vaccines when available to them.

Mr. Yien has noticed how the pandemic has change people’s hygiene behaviours for the better, with more frequent handwashing, wearing of masks, and avoiding crowds.

He said: “Before the COVID-19 pandemic, people weren’t as interested in hygiene and handwashing. During the pandemic... people changed behavior by handwashing with alcohol three to four times per day, with soap from two to five times per day, and wearing masks regularly.”

For Mr. Yien and his community, the connection between COVID-19 and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is clear. Their collective efforts to defend against the disease have paid off, with no village transmission or deaths.

He wants to make sure this does not change, saying “prevention is better than a cure” and “investment in hygiene and sanitation is very important for the community.”

Today, Mr. Yien is also one of iDE’s trained Sanitation Champions, working to promote sanitation and hygiene within local communities. While sharing knowledge about COVID-19, he also encourages households to purchase and install a latrine. His ambition is for his village to achieve open defecation free status.

Water for Women partners with iDE in Cambodia to deliver the WASH-SUP2 – Cambodia water, sanitation and hygiene scale up program, targeting communities in six provinces of Cambodia - Svay Rieng, Kandal, Prey Veng, Kampong Thom, Siem Reap and Oddar Meanchey.

Through Water for Women, Australia is investing AUD118.9m to deliver 33 WASH projects and research initiatives that aim to support 2.9 million people in 15 countries across South Asia, South East Asia and the Pacific. Water for Women is the Australian government's flagship WASH program and is being delivered as part of Australia's aid program over five years, from 2018 to 2022.


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