In rural Cambodia, access to clean water is severely limited. This reality has a very real impact on the health and well-being of an already impoverished population. Women and children are particularly affected, as they are forced to walk long distances to remote sources to collect water from streams and ponds. More often than not, this water is not safe for consumption. Poor water quality, coupled with the residents’ general lack of education regarding waterborne illness, results in the spread of typhoid, diarrhea, and myriad related maladies that not only pose immediate health risks but also trigger cascading financial burdens.
Life is especially tough during the 7 to 8 month dry season. While many of the villagers have been there forever, a good percentage of the villagers are poor Cambodian migrants that have newly arrived from Kampot and other provinces. While looking to make a fresh start, many of migrants build themselves roughhewn shacks that are without water or electricity. In the mean time they scratch a living from the land while getting their small farms established.
Over the past year, Lotus Outreach has been able to establish 13 new wells. The following is a short account of a visit to a newly established well in Monosok, Takaen Commune, Dist.Chhukk, Kampot Province (known locally as ‘Phnom Tom Point’ - as it’s at the foot of a big hill).
There are 15 members of the Well Committee in Monosok, one from each of the 15 families served by the well. The well will serve up to 100 people as the dry season lengthens. Houses of the 15 families are spread up to 600 meters from the well location. The well was established near the home of the village head. We were originally concerned about the misuse of power in the making of this decision so we asked the village head why we were directed to build the well next to his home. The village head said “I’m the only one at home all the time. My children are away in the forest gathering produce (bamboo, wood, forest seeds) for livelihood, as are members of most other households. If placed in the middle of town, there would be no one to keep an eye on the well and take care of the well. The nearest pond is 1km from the new location and the water in it is yellow and muddy. It never gets dried up but the water is horrid”.
The village head continued, “we are so happy and thankful to have a well with clean water so close to home."
The Getting Well program staff brought the community together to form the Well Committee and educate the community about office bearers and managing such a committee. Getting Well Committees are most often overwhelmingly women but in this case most are men. Each committee has a head, deputy head, and a treasurer. There were 7 of the 15 family heads at the meeting, all of the rest were in the forest working.
We are confident that we will see a decrease in water-borne diseases within the Monosok, Takaen Commune, and an increase in school attendance by the local children as we have seen in the community’s past. We fully expect the health, wealth, and education of the local populations to establish a positive feedback loop, a prosperous synergy that will drive this commune forward towards a brighter future.
Thank you to all that supported this program. Your generosity will have an exponential impact on the communities we work with in Cambodia.
The Getting Well Committee!