Waterborne illness is a huge obstacle for children in Cambodia, limiting a child's potential. We have installed word-class water purification systems at all of our sites to address this problem. But cleaning the water is only half the battle. This project ensures that the mechanisms by which children interact with water are also safe and hygienic by providing water stations for hand washing and drinking, as well as culturally appropriate health and hygiene education.
90% of the 3 million people who die every year due to waterborne illness are children under the age of 5. Our systems get clean water flowing, but it would be irresponsible and ineffective to then walk away. Systems break and need regular maintenance. And if kids do not have a clean, dedicated place to wash hands or are drinking from a communal cup, the benefits of clean water are greatly diminished. Also, knowing the importance of hygiene and proper hand washing is critical to improving health.
We are returning to all of our sites in Cambodia to conduct a full, detailed needs assessment. If a site needs a hand washing or drinking station, we will build it. If a site has a broken water station, we will repair it. If a site has an out-of-date purification system, we will replace it. If a site lacks a hygiene education program, we will provide culturally appropriate materials and trained staff to ensure children are learning these crucial skills and why they're important.
At an average cost of $1 per child, we will: reduce illness and days of school missed; improve health and thereby greatly increase each child's chance to fulfill his or her maximum potential; impact the entire community when children inevitably become 'hygiene evangelists' outside of school; in many cases, give the larger community access to our free, clean water; supply spare parts, maintenance, education, and training for 10 years; position site owners to take over ownership by year 11.