Helping to provide clean water in Cambodia

There are 4.5 million people in Cambodia with no access to clean piped water.

Hoping to make a difference, the Singapore International Foundation started its second Water for Life project in Cambodia, with the aim of providing clean water for daily living.

Kampong Speu province is just 50 kilometres from the Cambodian capital, yet villagers have no access to clean piped water.

They get their daily supply by collecting rainwater, digging shallow holes in the ground or from nearby streams.

Water from these sources is not considered safe to drink, but the people have no choice.

They use it for cooking, washing and drinking.

It is no surprise that diarrhoea, hepatitis A and typhoid are among the most common causes of death in Cambodia.

Seet Wing Gang, a volunteer at the Singapore International Foundation, said: “Their water source is contaminated so it’s very important (to have a) water filter installed so they have clean water for eating, drinking.”

This year, the Singapore International Foundation started a Water for Life project to provide clean drinking water to the 800 households living in Kampong Speu.

Each household pays a nominal fee of US$2 to have a water filter installed.

It is a fraction of the cost to produce the filter. If maintained properly, it can last a lifetime.

Village chief Um Cheung said: “I don’t have to boil water and that saves time. I don’t have to find and use firewood, and I’m not getting sick from the water anymore.”

Pov Ran, a rice farmer, said: “Since I got the water filter, I no longer spend money on medicine. Before, the doctor used to come my house, even at night.”

During the three-year project, volunteers from Singapore will also be helping to build wells and toilets for the villagers.

Yusof Yakah, a volunteer at the Singapore International Foundation, said: “It brings a lot of joy… seeing what we put in. And I feel like coming back and bringing in more friends to help out.”

Kampong Speu is the second place in Cambodia to benefit from the Water for Life programme.

The first, launched two years ago in Seam Reap, has been hailed as a success.

Villagers in Kampong Speu can similarly look forward to an improved quality of life when the project is completed in 2015.

This article was first published in CNA