Water is an essential component of day to day living. Various family activities such as cooking and farming cannot happen without a constant supply of water, and lack of a clean supply of water to communities could be detrimental and result in various health related problems.
According to a study done by UNICEF, over 900 million people all over the world do not have access to clean water, and almost half of these are children. On a global scale, waterborne diseases are considered the second major cause of death in children under the age of 5 years, In Cambodia not having access to clean water is the primary cause of death in Children under 5, in fact more than 20% of deaths are caused by simple diarrhea. This is why we need clean water action in Cambodia. The Mad Monkey developed our own clean water charity project in response to these requirements – more information is available about our clean water project in Cambodia here.
Cambodia is one of the countries where clean water is still a challenge to most households. According a recent study, it was estimated that more than 30 percent of the citizens of Cambodia do not have access to clean drinking water, or up to 60% of the rural population.
Many communities still get their water from streams, pools and canals which in most cases are usually contaminated with micro organisms and chemicals. Owing to this, the country’s infant mortality rate is one of the highest in Asia, and about 20 percent of these deaths is attributed to waterborne diseases such as hepatitis, typhoid and diarrhea.
Although the country has several water bodies and enjoys fresh water during the rainy season, most of the citizens living in rural areas have to walk for long distances to access clean water during the dry season, and this needs a lot of time, strength and energy. To alleviate this problem, several public as well as private companies have started water and sanitation building projects in various communities within the country. Some of the benefits of these projects to Cambodian communities include:
Safe Water Supply: Households within the country will get free and easy access to safe drinking and cooking water and this will significantly reduce problems caused by contaminated as well as inadequate water supply such as waterborne diseases, dehydration among others.
Reduced Infant Mortality Rates: According to the Reproductive Health Association of Cambodia the top most deadly diseases affecting infants within the country are diarrhea and malaria, both of which are linked to unclean water. Having wells dug within villages in the country will significantly reduce the mortality rates and ensure that as many children as possible survive during their childhood years.
Improved Sanitation and Hygiene: Together with the construction of water wells, most organizations also build sanitation facilities and health centers. Such organizations also offer free training on sanitation and hygiene and this will ensure a great improvement in sanitation and hygiene levels both at home, in school as well as in hospitals and other health centers.
Reduced Cost of Living: Safe drinking water will reduce the risk of transmitting water related diseases and this translates into reduced medical costs for households. Money that would be spent on treatment can then be channeled into other family projects that will improve the living standards of members of the family.
Improved School Attendance: Education levels and school attendance are greatly affected by the health of the students as well as their inability to attend school. Because of lack of a stable water supply, some of the children in the rural areas are forced to skip school so as to walk for long distances in search of water. Successful installation of wells in these areas will ensure that such kids do not have to skip school and this will result in an increased school attendance and improved performance.
Income stability: Families’ incomes are greatly affected when the bread winner falls sick due to contaminated water. Providing access to clean water will help to prevent members of these households, including the main income earner from falling sick and this will be a great step in improving income and living conditions among most rural Cambodians.
Time Saving: For individuals living in rural Cambodia, the average walking distance per day to a safe water source is usually 3 kilometers per day. This means that most households have to wake up early to look for water and sometimes this includes school children. Continuous supply of clean water from the borehole will save most households a lot of time, which can then be spent engaging in other important family and community activities.
Increased Food Production: Without a stable source of clean water near homes, families are restricted in their ability to engage in farming activities as they will only be able to cultivate crops during the wet season. During the dry season, most of the crops fail due to lack of inadequate water but with the availability of wells, wet season crops can be grown during the dry season and practices such as irrigation embraced to sustain the crops until harvest. Families with easy access to water wells can thus expand their productive season from the average 6 months to 11 months per year, and this will translate into increased food production, increased income and food security.