UN declares Nov 19 as World Toilet Day

Through a unanimous vote by its 193-member states, the UN has officially declared Nov 19 as World Toilet Day. “Sanitation for All” is the first resolution that Singapore has tabled in its 48 years as part of the UN.

UN-Deputy Secretary Jan Eliasson said annual observance of World Toilet Day will “go a long way towards raising awareness about the need for all human beings to have access to sanitation”.

“By the UN officially designating a day, it creates tremendous awareness of the global water and sanitation crisis. It will rally much needed investments to this area, and hopefully create sustainable and long-term change for communities in need, ” shared Lien AID CEO Koh Lian Hock.

Lien AID continues to work towards improving access to clean water and proper sanitation in poor rural communities in Asia, but more can be done. Support our cause and get involved with what we do!

Clean drinking water brings cheer to schoolchildren across three rural schools in Kandal Province

It is not difficult to spot a tube-well while walking around the rural school compound in Kandal Province, Cambodia. They used to be the main source of drinking water but these tube-wells are now used by students and staff for other purposes such as watering plants and cleaning. Instead, students and staff ration what water they are able lug from home daily, to last through school.

Echoed across three rural schools in Kandal Province (Bu Yong Kbal Chroy, Hun Sen Set Tbo and AreyKhsat), poisonous arsenic-contaminated groundwater that is tapped on has rendered such tube-wells obsolete for drinking water. With a lack of water infrastructure to rely on, schools are unable to provide their staff and students with adequate clean drinking water.

When the school terms begins in September, the story changes for an estimated 1,268 beneficiaries.

Through a partnership between Lien AID, the Ministry of Rural Development Cambodia, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports Cambodia, as well as the school authorities, these three schools are now equipped with rainwater harvesting and treatment systems of sufficient capacity to collect, store and treat rainwater enough for the school community.
Hand in hand, two arsenic awareness campaigns were carried out in March at each school to increase the awareness of arsenic poisoning amongst the school community.

This project is part of a pilot by Lien AID to improve access to clean water to rural schools with arsenic-contaminated water sources in Kandal Province, Cambodia.

To find out more about our current work in Cambodia, take a look at Where We Work – Cambodia.

Water Tanks of Hope : Lien AID CEO speaks on Singapore Radio Station 938Live’s breakfast club

In May this year, Lien AID CEO Koh Lian Hock was invited as a guest on Singapore Radio Station 938Live’s daily morning programme. He candidly shared with listeners on the water and sanitation crisis in Asia and how Lien AID’s Gift of Water programmes are working towards changing the worlds of poor rural communities in the region, through improving their access to clean water.

No more a pipe dream : Water project pipes clean water to rural village in Northern China

With water piped directly to my home, I can spend this winter in ease, knowing that I no longer have to take the 45 minute walk to the public well to draw water,” says Zhao Xiao Qiu.

Winters in China, especially in the Northern provinces average temperatures between -10 to -30 degrees Celsius and yet many villagers have to walk several kilometres to the nearest water source in order to carry water home for drinking and cooking. The situation is now alleviated through the completion of a clean water project initiated by Lien AID and its local partners.

The project completion, commemorated on 21 May 2013, is part of Lien AID’s on-going effort to improve water and sanitation conditions in rural villages and schools. It involved piping water from underground wells  to one village and one primary school, resulting in the rural community obtaining sustained access to clean water throughout the year.

On top of the ‘hardware solution’, health and hygiene training to raise awareness of the importance of drinking clean water as well as proper hygiene practices, water conservation, protection of water sources and the environment were also carried out. This is part of a larger effort to catalyse behavioural change, and to ensure that rural communities are able to enjoy the benefits brought about by the project in the long run.

The project is estimated to have benefited more than 1,800 villagers, including over 300 students at a local primary school.

Eight local champions selected in efforts to pipe clean water into homes in rural China

In rural China, hours spent trekking to the nearest water source only yields villagers as much water as he can carry home. During the annual drought, this worsens as villagers are forced to ration whatever little water they manage to collect from increasingly parched water sources.

In its second instalment, a revolutionary collaboration between Lien AID and the China Association of Poverty Alleviation and Development (CAPAD) continues to combat water woes in rural China, selecting an additional 8 Student Village Officers (SVOs) /大学生村官 to implement appropriate water projects in their poverty-stricken villages. The program ensures the sustainability of these projects through its holistic approach of identifying, equipping and empowering local champions with knowledge and skills to tackle the water and sanitation crisis in rural China.

The 8 Student Village Officers (SVOs)/ 大学生村官 will receive training and guidance, empowering them to carry out water projects that aim to store and pipe clean water into homes in their villages across the Chongqing and Guizhou Provinces.

A sustained water supply will boost agricultural and poultry-rearing activities, potentially increasing incomes of beneficiaries in these villages. Water storage facilities also ensure that these communities are well-equipped to ride out the annual drought when it hits. Health and hygiene training to raise awareness of the importance of drinking clean water, water conservation, protection of water sources and the environment will also be carried out, in an effort to catalyze behavioural change.

The projects are currently underway, and are scheduled to complete by end July 2013. The improved access to clean water will benefit an estimated 9, 164 villagers.

CAPAD is an NGO registered with the Ministry of Civil Affairs, and is endorsed by the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development. One of its key programs is “Supporting the development of SVOs at poverty stricken villages or “支持贫困村大学生村官成长工程“. The program started in 2010/11, and conducts training on poverty alleviation for SVOs who have been assigned to work in poverty stricken villages across China.

Harmful medical wastewater made safe for the environment

Rural communities living near four district hospitals (with a capacity of 100-200 sick beds) in the Nghe An Province (Vietnam) breathed a sigh of relief as medical facilities were equipped earlier this year, to treat harmful medical wastewater making it safe before release into the surrounding environment. Poor infrastructure had left these communities at high risk of coming in contact with the hazardous medical waste. According to the Vietnam News, Vietnamese hospitals discharge about 2.5 – 3 tonnes of untreated medical waste a day.

Medical wastewater is full of infectious pathogens that spread diseases (e.g. cholera, rotavirus) and toxic chemicals, posing serious environmental and health risks to surrounding communities.

Without adequate wastewater treatment facilities, untreated medical wastewater is discharged into open concrete drains, absorbed by the soil and seeps into groundwater; often the drinking water supply of patients and staff reliant on wells on the compound for consumption.

The partnership between Lien AID and the Ministry of Health Vietnam saw four wastewater treatment systems installed, and operations & maintenance skills imparted to the hospital staff.  These district hospitals are now able to treat the harmful medical wastewater before it is safely released into the environment, benefitting the community of 52, 800 people.

More importantly, the project enabled local authorities to compare the merits of various technologies deployed and gather practical experience for subsequent implementation of such solutions for district hospitals (with a capacity of 100 – 200 sick beds) in Vietnam.

Getting affordable drinking water made easier on the polluted Ton Le Sap

A few months ago, most of the people living in several remote floating and flooded villages in Kampong Chhnang Province of Cambodia drank directly from the polluted Ton Le Sap, putting them at high risk of water-related illnesses such as diarrhoea. This is because the Ton Le Sap lake is heavily polluted with human and animal waste, sewage water, emissions from motorized boats, and industrial runoff, rendering it unsafe for direct consumption.

However, safe drinking water is difficult to access as it takes up to 45 minutes to travel from these villages to the nearest jetty. When available, commercially-bottled water is also too costly for these villages to afford. As a result, despite the health risks involved, these communities continued to drink directly from the polluted water source.

Due to the inaccessibility, these communities’ need for safe drinking water had been neglected, till now. In February 2013, Lien AID completed two community-based water treatment plants, providing affordable drinking water to the estimated 4,339 people living in these villages.

These community-based water treatment plants adopt a social enterprise model, where bottled water for the communities are kept affordable; less than half the price of those provided commercially. Profits generated are used to sustain the treatment plant’s operations and maintenance. These plants are also conveniently located within the community to reduce the effort for the villagers to transport drinking water home, making it easier for them to choose to do so.

To find out more about our work in Cambodia, take a look at Where We Work – Cambodia.

Every drop counts: Singapore World Water Day 2013

Water is precious; every drop counts.

Lien AID marked Singapore World Water Day 2013 together with an estimated 25, 000 people across 15 locations island-wide in an event organised by the Public Utilities Board Singapore. At the anchor location Marina Barrage, Lien AID raised awareness about the poor access to clean water that still faces disadvantaged communities in Asia. Photo stories illustrating the real experiences of families and individuals across these communities were displayed at the event. These stories were put together last year as part of the Pour A Glass of Hope Campaign; an advocacy initiative carried out in partnership with a class of students and their professors from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University. The class had travelled to Cambodia in Feb 2012 as part of their curriculum and were given the opportunity to interact with beneficiaries and government officials at selected project sites. Two student volunteers, Cynthia and Athena were also on hand at the event to share their experiences in Cambodia.

The public was also urged to show their support for the 31st article in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the right to clean water. Coined the Blue Right by Lien AID, people were encouraged to document their support through photo declarations at the event. School children, families, friends and government officials were photographed showing that they believe in the Blue Right as shown in the photo gallery.

Lien AID and the China Association of Poverty Alleviation and Development in Collaboration to Empower Local Champions in Improving Water Conditions at Poor Rural Villages

‘With water, I see hope for my village. The township and county governments are very supportive of plans for the village to embark in greenhouse farming and cultivation of herbs for sales.’Student Village Officer from Gansu Province.

Lien AID continues with a revolutionary collaboration with the China Association of Poverty Alleviation and Development (CAPAD) in combating water woes in rural China. This is an ambitious programme that is pioneering a holistic and comprehensive approach to identify and empower local champions in implementing appropriate water intervention projects in poor rural villages.

On 28 November 2012, as part of a two week training, organized by CAPAD for over 500 selected Student Village Officers (SVOs)/ 大学生村官 from 14 provinces, Lien AID held a water forum aimed at creating exposure of water issues for the SVOs, wherein projects will be seeded for implementation.

Attendees included representatives from Lien AID; CAPAD; Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute, Nanyang Technological University; experts from the China Center Control for Disease and Prevention; experts in the water and sanitation fields; as well as the SVOs.

CAPAD is a premier government-linked NGO which aims to educate and facilitate SVOs based in poverty stricken villages to conduct effective poverty alleviation activities.  Every year, more than 1,000 SVOs across China are selected by the respective provincial poverty alleviation departments to attend the prestigious training sessions.

To find out more about our work in China, take a look at Where We Work – China.