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FEATURE STORY

Cambodia: Clean Water on Tap Saves Time and Improves Health

July 6, 2010

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Provincial and Peri-Urban Water and Sanitation Project is assisting Cambodia in moving forward to fulfill the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in water supply and sanitation by 2015.
  • With the operation of new water plants, families are not just spared from having to fetch water from public wells but are also realizing the health benefits of having clean water.

July 6, 2010 — Sixty-three-year-old Nem Kem used to walk more than six kilometers every day to get water from a public well. “It took me one or two hours every day just to get 20 liters of water,” she recalls.

But since January 2008 all Kem has had to do is turn on her water tap. “It’s very easy and saves me a lot of time,” she smiles. Besides ordinary household use for drinking, cooking, and washing, Kem uses tap water for raising pigs and producing rice wine. She says the high quality of the tap water has improved the quality of her wine.

Kem’s neighbor, Ma Touch, 22, is one of several vermicelli producers in Chopvary commune, Preah Net Prash district in Banteay Meanchey province, who are now using the tap water supply to produce their vermicelli. Each day she makes around 30 to 50 kg of vermicelli for sale. In the past, she washed her vermicelli with unsafe water from an open water pond around 2 km from her village.

I knew I used unclean water to wash my vermicelli, but I had no choice,” she said. “Now, I am using pipe water. I think my vermicelli is better,” she laughs.

Kem and Touch are among more than 1,000 families who have gained access to clean water provided by the Phsar Chub Water Treatment Plant, which began operation in January 2008.

The Phsar Chub Plant is one of 11 water plants around Cambodia sponsored by the Provincial and Peri-Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Project, which is supported financially by the World Bank. The PPUWSSP has provided 90 percent of the total cost of Phsar Chub Plant, with the remaining 10 percent invested by Sakor Cambodia Co., Ltd, which runs the day-to-day operation. The investment has been used to construct water treatment facilities, distribution lines and household connections, and the plant produces 300 to 400 cubic meters of water a day.

Pann Yeurt, Acting Director of the Phsar Chub Water Treatment Plant, says he is proud to be supplying water 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Mr. Yeurt said people in his community used to pay 10,000 riel per cubic meter—five times what they are paying now. Worse than that, the water vendors sold back then was untreated, whereas the water he supplies now is clean.

To ensure the quality of water, Mr. Yeurt said, the company sent samples for laboratory testing every month during the first year of operation, and since then continues to have the water tested every quarter.

As a former member of the Village Development Committee, Mr Yeurt observed that people benefited in three ways from having clean water on tap: it improves their health; it saves time from collecting water from public well or open water pond; and it makes special events such as weddings easier because villagers no longer need to have water supplied from an outside source.

Regarding the health issue, Chopvary Health Center Director Phum Kosal confirmed what Mr. Yeurt had noted.

Mr. Kosal said the number of diarrhea cases caused by unclean water had dropped from an average of 50 cases a week to 10 since the clean water supply had begun.

The tap water is also at the health center for baby deliveries. He said for each delivery, the midwife needs at least one cubic meter to wash the baby.

Before, when there was baby delivery, we asked their husbands or relatives to collect water from the public well to put in the jar at the center,” he said. “But now we just turn on the tap. It’s far much easier for our nurses, and saves a lot time.”

July 6, 2010 — Sixty-three-year-old Nem Kem used to walk more than six kilometers every day to get water from a public well. “It took me one or two hours every day just to get 20 liters of water,” she recalls.

But since January 2008 all Kem has had to do is turn on her water tap. “It’s very easy and saves me a lot of time,” she smiles. Besides ordinary household use for drinking, cooking, and washing, Kem uses tap water for raising pigs and producing rice wine. She says the high quality of the tap water has improved the quality of her wine.

Kem’s neighbor, Ma Touch, 22, is one of several vermicelli producers in Chopvary commune, Preah Net Prash district in Banteay Meanchey province, who are now using the tap water supply to produce their vermicelli. Each day she makes around 30 to 50 kg of vermicelli for sale. In the past, she washed her vermicelli with unsafe water from an open water pond around 2 km from her village.

I knew I used unclean water to wash my vermicelli, but I had no choice,” she said. “Now, I am using pipe water. I think my vermicelli is better,” she laughs.

Kem and Touch are among more than 1,000 families who have gained access to clean water provided by the Phsar Chub Water Treatment Plant, which began operation in January 2008.

The Phsar Chub Plant is one of 11 water plants around Cambodia sponsored by the Provincial and Peri-Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Project, which is supported financially by the World Bank. The PPUWSSP has provided 90 percent of the total cost of Phsar Chub Plant, with the remaining 10 percent invested by Sakor Cambodia Co., Ltd, which runs the day-to-day operation. The investment has been used to construct water treatment facilities, distribution lines and household connections, and the plant produces 300 to 400 cubic meters of water a day.

Pann Yeurt, Acting Director of the Phsar Chub Water Treatment Plant, says he is proud to be supplying water 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Mr. Yeurt said people in his community used to pay 10,000 riel per cubic meter—five times what they are paying now. Worse than that, the water vendors sold back then was untreated, whereas the water he supplies now is clean.

To ensure the quality of water, Mr. Yeurt said, the company sent samples for laboratory testing every month during the first year of operation, and since then continues to have the water tested every quarter.

As a former member of the Village Development Committee, Mr Yeurt observed that people benefited in three ways from having clean water on tap: it improves their health; it saves time from collecting water from public well or open water pond; and it makes special events such as weddings easier because villagers no longer need to have water supplied from an outside source.

Regarding the health issue, Chopvary Health Center Director Phum Kosal confirmed what Mr. Yeurt had noted.

Mr. Kosal said the number of diarrhea cases caused by unclean water had dropped from an average of 50 cases a week to 10 since the clean water supply had begun.

The tap water is also at the health center for baby deliveries. He said for each delivery, the midwife needs at least one cubic meter to wash the baby.

Before, when there was baby delivery, we asked their husbands or relatives to collect water from the public well to put in the jar at the center,” he said. “But now we just turn on the tap. It’s far much easier for our nurses, and saves a lot time.”

 

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