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How simple water jars are changing family dynamics during drought in Cambodia

In the remote province of Ratanak Kiri in Cambodia, women and girls were traditionally the main people in the family to do housework. This included collecting water for drinking, cleaning and washing in their home—a significant task when water sources are often a long walk from their home. Prolonged drought in Ratanak Kiri province in early 2016 caused many sources of water to dry up. Women and girls faced a harder task than before to collect enough water for their family.

CARE has been addressing this by improving access to water. The organisation provided water jars which allow families to store large amounts of water at their home. Combining this with hygiene and sanitation training in the community has helped change people’s attitudes to women’s role in their family.

Mrs. Rocham Yek, 57, said “Before, my daughters and I needed to collect water at least twice a day for cooking, cleaning and washing.” She continued that after her household received water jars from CARE, she has reduced the time she spends collecting water, especially water for cooking and washing. “My sons bring water for the home with their motorbike to fill the water jars. Now I just collect water for drinking.”

Peun, Yek’s son, said “After I joined training with CARE about hygiene and gender roles this made me realise that women and girls have much work to do in my home and men did not see it. From now on, I will help my family in collecting water. I am happy I now know better how I can help my family,” Peun added.

Romas Svann, the village chief, noticed that men in the village often did not care and would not help to collect water, but now he sees that most of them help women to collect water and fill the water jars distributed by CARE. “Since I got a water jar, I try to act as role model to help my wife collect water,” the village chief said. “I now see that in all 25 families in my village, men are helping to collect water.”

The village chief mentioned that once upon time, many of the people in this village suffered from serious diarrhoea, which they believe was caused by drinking poor quality water from the stream. “I believe that people in this village will have better health as a result of these water jars.” He also shared that these big water jars have helped people a lot in storing water not only for the rainy season, but also in dry season. This meant that when the drought hit, women such as Yek and her daughters were not disproportionately affected by this but could work together with all of their family to overcome this themselves.

These activities are part of the WASH in Schools and Communities project, which is funded by the Australian Government.

Learn more about the WASH in Schools and Communities project >

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