Water — Everybody’s Business in Cambodia

Using business models to manage public water supply, the 2010 Stockholm Industry Water Award winner Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) provides leading edge services to its customers today.

The PPWSA started using business models in 1993 which increased water provision in the capital city area from less than 30% then to almost 100% in 2010. The PPWSA received the Award today in recognition of its outstanding performance and world class management.

“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 today provides 24-hour service and 90 per cent 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 was supported by international donors in its efforts to reach where it is today. However, it managed to become entirely self-sustainable as it benchmarked itself against the best operators in both developing and developed nations. PPWSA’s work has contributed to visible improvements in public health and a reduction of constraints to industrial, social and economic developments in Cambodia’s capital.

Parallel to the public sectors’ increased application of business models in water resource management, businesses are realising that the availability of their financial, human and material resources is threatened by unsustainable use of water, posing a high risk for water-dependent industries.

The textile industry provides one important example. It is estimated that 2.5% of the world’s arable land is used for cotton cultivation, and about 80 countries produce cotton on a commercial scale. Cultivation of cotton is a water-straining process threatening the availability of clean water, soil fertility, human health and the biodiversity in many water-stressed regions. Increased awareness of both buyers and producers on the importance of sustaining scarce resources have led many textile manufacturers to improve the efficiency of production processes based on the concept “more crop per drop”.

To address sustainability of water resources, the water sector is currently developing tools to increase the awareness of communities, businesses, and nations on how production chains and consumption of goods and services affect water systems. Existing tools such as the “Water footprint” have prompted for the development of new ISO standards, requirements and guidelines on water use to brand companies with higher sense of responsibility.

About the Stockholm Industry Water Award: The Stockholm Industry Water Award recognises the business sector’s contribution to sustainable water management, by minimising water consumption and environmental impact. It is given to any sector of business and industry. It recognises improved performance in production processes, new products, and management, as well as innovative approaches in water and wastewater process technologies which together help to improve the world water situation. The Award was established in 2000 by the Stockholm Water Foundation in collaboration with the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. It is administered by Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).

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