Water and Sanitation in Cambodia
I miss having access to good quality water 24/7.
At my house in Siem Reap I have two types of water, what I call ‘good water’ and ‘bad water’. The ‘good water’ costs us $10USD a month and I use it to take a shower, wash my hands, brush my teeth and do the dishes. The ‘bad water’ is free and I use it to flush the toilet.
For the past few months I have been having a lot of trouble with my water. Quite often there is no ‘good water’ to use. That means after I go to the gym in the morning or when I come home in the evening covered in dust and swear, I am left to have a shower with the smelly ‘bad water’. Then, quite often there is no ‘bad water’ left in the ground, meaning I have to fill up a bucket with the ‘good water’ to flush the toilet. And of course, sometimes there is no water at all, leaving my boyfriend and I smelly and agitated, especially in this heat.
Water is something many people take for granted. Despite all the research and warnings, even I tend to waste this precious resource (when I actually have access to it). Yet, there are still so many people in this world who don’t even have access to it. Take for example, Cambodia.
Did you know that nearly half of Cambodians don’t have access to clean drinking water? I pay $1 to fill a 20 litre tub of drinking water (though even then, I doubt the cleanliness of it, given my health troubles). Around 40 percent of primary schools and 35 percent of health centres in the country don’t have access to safe water and sanitation, with 20% of primary schools failing to even have one toilet. In fact, over TEN THOUSAND Cambodian children die each year due to diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.
At Human and Hope Association we incorporate hygiene into our education programs. This means running workshops on proper toothbrushing and hand washing techniques every six months, providing safe drinking water for our students to access daily, ensuring our preschool students brush their teeth at our organisation each day (some had never brushed their teeth before attending HHA) and providing a sink and soap for our students to wash their hands every day. We even make our staff and students wear their shoes into our toilets to stop the spread of worms (a cultural habit which is difficult to change, but must). However, there is so much more to be done wide scale. Villagers NEED access to clean water at their homes. They must learn how to properly sanitise their drinking water as to eliminate diseases the costs associated with this. Public schools must have toilets and sanitation facilities built so children can spend more time at school and less time at home, knocked out with diseases caused by a lack of these facilities.
Although Cambodia has made progress with access to water, largely due to assistance from grants and NGO’s, there is still a long way to go.
Consider donating to these NGO’s to ensure the improvement of access to water and sanitation in Cambodia.