Safe Water Programs are a critical centerpiece to Sustainable Cambodia’s community development strategy. They provide a necessary base upon which other community development programs such as Food Security and Healthcare can build. Before the Safe Water Programs, many of the communities in which Sustainable Cambodia operated had no source of clean drinking water, forcing the villagers to carry water over long distances and/or gathering dirty water from nearby scum-covered ponds. This significant workload is often the responsibility of school-age students and thereby reduces, if not eliminates, the time available for studies.
We help the families gain access to clean water in three ways:
Wells: Providing communities with steady access to water, opening doors to many other programs
Bio-Sand Filters: Supplying villagers with a cheap and reliable method to make water potable
Rooftop Rainwater Harvesters: Further increasing communities’ access to clean water
The Safe Water Programs are designed to work in conjunction with one another to address each aspect of water resources, from availability to safe household use. Wells and Rooftop Rainwater Harvesters are installed, granting access to a steady supply of water for a community. A BioSand filter is then used to treat the water, removing most of the disease-bearing bacteria.
Everything changes when clean water becomes available! Sickness and disease are dramatically reduced. Water becomes available for growing vegetable gardens or for fishponds, addressing hunger and malnutrition. Children who previously had to work for hours every day hauling water are able to attend school regularly. Life begins anew!
Wells are often chosen by the village families, and they are a joint project with the villagers. The Village Development Committee, our staff, and the well drillers decide on the locations. The villagers themselves dig the initial well pit, around 20 to 30 feet deep, using hand tools (hard work!). The well driller then drills a conventional deep-water well through the bottom of the pit, and concrete ring liners are put in place, forming a cistern to hold water. The well is capped, and a hand pump installed. The Village Development Committee contracts with a particular family for the maintenance of each well. The cost of each well ranges, depending on the type of well, from US$1,200 (for a multi-purpose well) to $2,200 (for a deep-water well), including supplies, training, and oversight to ensure the village is maintaining the wells. Each well serves 5 to 15 families, depending upon the type of well and the proximity of the families.
Villages also often choose biosand filters. These are concrete filters that the village families build with our guidance and help. The filters provide clean water even if the water source is a river or shallow well.
Often the families will choose rainwater catchment. Using these concrete containers, the family can capture enough clean water to last through the entire dry season.
The wells, biosand filters, and rainwater catchment systems provide not only fresh, clean drinking water, but water for irrigation of vegetable gardens during the dry season. The quality of life in the village is forever changed through these projects.