According to the 2014 Updated Report on the “Progress on Drinking Water and Sanitation Report” released by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, through collaborative efforts worldwide, the global community met the Millennium Development Goal’s (MDG) drinking water target, of 88% of the global population having access to improved water sources.
With better water infrastructure put in place through these collaborative efforts, many more communities were able to access to improved water sources more easily than previous years. Hand in hand with improving this access however, a conscious effort to educate and raise awareness to beneficiaries on the importance of drinking clean water is necessary to change behaviors, and further extend the sustainable impact achieved by the increased ease people have to access improved water sources.
This May, as part of our Community-based Water Social Enterprise (CWE) initiative, Lien AID’s team continued to travel to five locations, across two provinces in Cambodia (Kandal Province, Kampong Chhnang Province), to conduct health and hygiene awareness sessions with the assistance from the local government officials. At these sessions, information on the importance of drinking clean water and the negative effects of consuming contaminated water is shared interactively in a thought-provoking manner.
Changing behaviors does not occur overnight, but through these sessions, it is our intention to encourage and facilitate these changes in behavior, that if not addressed, may diminish the impact of an increased access to clean water.
We have listened to many water stories over the years. Last year, we spoke to some villagers in the Kampong Chhnang Province to get a better understanding of their water situation. Through conversations with the villagers, it drove home the point that raising awareness and educating villagerson the benefits of drinking clean water, and how drinking dirty water may cause water-related diseases such as diarrhea, has to go hand-in-hand with the improvement of clean water through the development of adequate and sustainable water infrastructure.
Seung Khom, Mother of 7 children, Kampong Chhnang Province
Seung Khom is a mother of 7 children. The adults and older children take turns fetching water for daily use. The family retrieves dirty river water using six small containers, which is then used for boiling, drinking, washing, and cooking. She waits for the water to sit “for a couple of hours until there is no turbidity before I consume it”. However the river water is still unsafe to consume and she regularly falls ill. Every month, Seung takes medications to ease her diarrhea, but drinks it with the same river water that caused her illness.
Duk Tom, 72-year-old woman, Kampong Chhnang Province
We had asked Duk if she had fallen ill recently, in which she recalls she had diarrhea and attributed this affliction to the food that she ate (water flowers and snails), and not the water that she’d drank, which at that time continued to be untreated river water. She readily shared with us her home-made remedy to treat diarrhea which involves holding her breath while picking seven leaves from a specific medicinal tree. These leaves are eaten whole or mixed with water before they are consumed.
To find out more about our efforts towards delivering clean water access, take a look at What We Do.