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Access to water allows women to branch out

Sitting with Hun You looking across a full pond and green crops, it’s hard to imagine the village in drought. Yet drought and the impact of climate change is exactly what worries 21 year old Hun. She is the Deputy Village Chief of a remote village in Ratanak Kiri province in North East Cambodia and takes an active interest in supporting her community to prosper.

Drought is not unusual in Ratanak Kiri. The province has always experienced a six month dry season with no rainfall at all. Water is a precious resource that is under increased pressure from land clearing and changes in land usage in the region.

The pond is a welcome new addition to Hun’s village which used to be dependent on water from a stream three kilometres away. Hun recalls how she used to have to make several trips a day to collect water. She spent four hours each day, travelling 12 kilometres on foot, to collect enough water for her family of six. The time spent collecting water left her with less time to earn an income and help lift her village out of poverty.

CARE partnered with Hun’s village to tackle the problem of poor water supply. CARE worked with villagers to build a pond close to homes, and also provided training on farming techniques to improve crop yield. Having water nearby has made a major difference to the community, and You is thrilled with the change, “[the pond is] only four or five minutes away. Because it’s near my house I use it for bathing and also for washing clothes. I also get drinking water from the pond.”

Instead of walking to get water for four hours a day, Hun can now spend her spare time looking after her pigs and chickens, and preparing the soil to plant vegetables. “It is good for me to use the water to plant vegetables because [then] we don’t need to buy from others,” she says.

From CARE, Hun learnt techniques to improve her planting and livestock raising skills. CARE also provided training in business skills, teaching her ways to sell products to make a profit and earn an income.

Hun’s life has improved following the introduction of the pond and the training, she says “I am happy I have enough water to use – my life has changed because I have water.”

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