Souphi commune in the far northwest of Cambodia, suffered from serious drought from 2013 to 2015, leading to loss of crops and livestock. Desperate villagers bought unsafe water with grave health consequences, and many crossed the border into Thailand in search of work.
“The dirty water led to itchy skin and diarrhea, especially affecting our children. People were exchanging rice for drinking water,” said Sopheak, a member of the Community Development Committee.
Thoeun, a villager, told GNC, “Children from five families became seriously ill. Three survived because we got them to the clinic in time, but sadly two children died.”
Good Neighbors Cambodia cooperated with World Food Program, the Provincial Department of Rural Development, Provincial Department of Agriculture, the Community Development Committee and local authorities in 2016 to improve water resources, including a new community pond and pipe system to deliver water to six villages in Souphi commune. With many of the men away in Thailand, most of the laborers were women.
The community contribute to the costs of the water. Ayu, a 64-year-old farmer said, “I have used the irrigation system to water my vegetables. The extra income from my crops makes it easy to pay the water fees of around USD 5 a month. ”
“Water costs have been reduced now that we don’t need to buy water from outside and we can rely on water all year round. It has improved hygiene and our children are much healthier, ” she added.
Local Water Supply Committee members were recruited and trained to maintain the pipes and storage tanks, and to manage the fee collection. Over 100 families now benefit from the water system, including 65 registered children.