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How a short-term emergency response can have long-term value to communities

A disaster response should first and foremost meet people’s immediate needs to help them face the challenges caused by an emergency situation. But in some instances, a well-planned response can have a lasting impact beyond the duration of the issue and even help people be more prepared for the next time disaster strikes.

Yam is one such woman who is benefitting from an emergency response to combat the severe drought which hit Cambodia in early 2016. She usually gets water from a private supplier, but this year they ran out. She was forced to go to another supplier which was twice as expensive and her family struggled to pay for this.

“In my family we don’t have a regular income and much of this is spent on medicines because I have cancer,” Yam says. Their entire family of eight is dependent on informal labouring jobs and the money her elder sons are able to send back from working in construction.

Yam explains that the drought has left them with very limited options. “We cannot live without water. All we do depends on water—drinking, cooking, washing, laundry. We have had to limit how much food we eat to pay for water. Not having enough water is very, very stressful but all I can do is be patient as we have no other choice.”

To address this emergency situation CARE, with partner People in Need (PIN), has been distributing large tanks filled with water to the most vulnerable families, along with water filters and hygiene information. These met the immediate needs of Yam and her family by providing much-needed water at a time when it is either unavailable or unaffordable.

The buckets will provide Yam’s family with drinking water while the drought continues, but their value does not end when they become empty. Many families could not afford these large buckets to store water, so the response made sure that the supplies distributed were of good quality and sure to last.

Along with the buckets, the response distributed information about how to install a basic rainwater harvester and encouraged people to use their containers to collect rainwater in the future. Yam was so keen she has already added this to her house.

“Collecting rainwater during the wet season will allow me to save some of the money we usually spend on suppliers. Because we have the water filter, I don’t have any worries about using this water for drinking and cooking.

“I have also learned a lesson from this year—we cannot depend on our usual water supplies any more so we need to be prepared. Next year we will try to keep some water in reserve so that if there is another drought we are not so affected. With these three large containers, I can store much more than we ever could before.”

There are many ways to distribute water during a drought. The hope is that the impacts of this response will continue to be felt many months after the water shortages end.

In response to the severe drought affecting much of Cambodia, CARE Cambodia and partner People in Need (PIN) responded to support communities in the province of Koh Kong. The response included distribution of water tanks and water filters to particularly vulnerable households in the most affected areas.

Read more stories from CARE's drought response >

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