Limited access to water and hygiene prohibit communities from leading healthy lifestyles in the north-eastern province of Ratanak Kiri in Cambodia. In Romas Sin’s community, CARE has improved access to water through installing a community pond attached to new wells, changing rooms, water jars and hygiene and sanitation training.
In his family of five with three young children, members must go to the pond and well each day to collect water for cooking, cleaning and drinking, as well as wash clothes and bathe, like most in his village. Before the new facilities were installed earlier this year, his family collected water from traditional wells in the ground, which sees the water scooped from the ground without any pumping. He said they used that water for cooking and drinking, and used water for washing and bathing from a stream.
“The water quality was very bad, especially in rainy season. There was only one stream, so there would be three or four groups along the stream,” Sin said. “Now people can get clean water easily.”
Sin is a member of the village Water User Committee, instigated by CARE as a sustainable way for communities to manage their ponds and water supply. He was nominated and voted into the position by village members.
“I’ve made a commitment to my villagersto , so I keep it in mind. Lots of the community trust and respect me.” Sin’s main role is the treasurer of the group, but he also calls for meetings, organises fundraising, talks community people about water use and the infrastructure and repairs the well.
He sees the pond as a long term resource and community asset, providing quality water for its population as well as giving back much needed time to family members who spent time collecting water each day.
Although life in his village is relatively simple, Sin has dreams of what the village will become. After all, it is his home and where he has lived his entire life.
“Every house should have their own toilet.” He said there were about 10 households with a private toilet, out of a village with about 1000 households. “Most people go into the forest. During wet season it can run into the streams.”
He would also like to see a new school building with better facilities for children to learn, and the village connected to electricity.
“It’s good to see the pond and the change that it is bringing – it’s reducing the workloads of girls in families because they don’t have to spend as much time collecting water.”
These activities are part of the WASH in Schools and Communities project, which is fundedby the Australian Government.