Us and Them: Working together for clean water

Posted on April 11, 2018

Adults and children at water point in Krapeu Pir, Cambodia - Action on Poverty

Water crisis in Veal Veng

Them, 31, lives in Krapeu Pir commune in Veal Veng with his wife, Hem, and his three daughters, aged 8, 6 and 2.

In Veal Veng, climate change is creating erratic weather patterns, making it difficult for farmers like Them to earn a stable income.

Last year, drought created a life-threatening situation in Them’s commune. They had no water point and all the other local sources of drinking water dried up. Some people in the commune spent hours every day fetching water, leaving very little time to earn money.

Drought in Cambodia - Action on Poverty

Them couldn’t afford to spend time away from work. He was forced to purchase water from expensive trucks. Every few days, Them spent $3 on water for his family’s drinking and washing needs. This was about $40 a month – a sizeable portion of their income.

Due to this high cost, his daughters were unable to wash themselves properly. They were often ill and Them could barely cover the medical bills.

Community members in Krapeu Pir surround their new well - Action on Poverty

Clean water in tough times

Together with the Cambodian Organization for Children and Development (COCD), we installed three new wells in Veal Veng to combat drought. 321 villagers, including 81 children, now use these wells.

Local villagers, including Them, contributed money to buy building materials, and have now formed water point committees to maintain the wells and educate their communities about hygiene.

This is much safer for Them’s young daughters. With a clean source of water, they are less likely to contract diarrheal diseases – one of the leading causes of death among Cambodian children. Girls in Cambodia are also at particular risk of encountering violence as they fetch water – something Them no longer has to worry about.

New toilets for students

With COCD, we also built a toilet at the local primary school in Krapeu Pir. Previously, students were forced to walk all the way home to use the toilet. As a result, teachers report lower rates of absenteeism, and students remain focused in the classroom.

Toilet at primary school in Veal Veng - Action on Poverty

As this project continues, we will continue to monitor water quality at the wells and support the water point committees. We will also continue to work with farmers to meet their water needs, especially during the dry season.

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