Ek Sonn Chan
General Director, Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority
Getting the News Out/Managing Expectations, Building a Reform Team and Staff
Wed Oct 28 2009
Ek Sonn Chan, the general director of the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority, describes his role in providing clean and affordable water. The proper delivery of this service necessitated several reforms that he was able to implement using financial assistance and expertise from the international community. First, Chan explains the restructuring of the management and the resistance that emerged from some employees and the media. He also points out the support they received from the political level, the World Bank and the new group of managers. Second, he discusses the self-reliance programs that consisted of staff training, measuring performance improvements and revising the water tariff to ensure the commercial sector could afford it. Chan also identifies the bill-collection problem, which was related to the performance of the collector, the fact that powerful people refused to pay their water bills, and the inefficiency of the water supply system. To resolve these issues, the water authority installed meters at every connection and all were required to pay their bills through a new automatic billing system. It also established an incentive system based on bonuses among the workers, introduced an internal discipline system with a penalty for violators, and set up a discipline commission for all levels of the organization to deal with corruption.
At the time of this interview, Ek Sonn Chan was the general director of the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority. An electrical engineer by training, he previously served as the director of municipal commerce and as the director of Electricité du Cambodge. In 2006 Chan was given the Ramon Magsaysay Award in recognition of his achievement in reforming the water supply authority.