Tackling water woes through strategic partnership

In collaboration with our strategic partner China Association for Poverty Alleviation and Development (CAPAD), we organised our first Village Water Management (VWM) programme commendation event in Beijing on 22 May where we took the opportunity to share the clean water project outcomes from our partnership in the last five years.

VWM programme commendation event organised in collaboration with CAPAD

VWM programme commendation event organised in collaboration with CAPAD

The event saw the participation of 58 attendees, including key leaders from Lien AID and CAPAD, various government authorities, Student Village Officers (SVOS), corporate partner and the local media. CAPAD’s Vice Chairman Mr. Wen Kegang shared the collaboration programme with Lien AID has benefitted more than 100,000 rural villagers across 73 poverty stricken villages in nine provinces in the past five years. He expressed the importance of continuous close collaboration between Lien AID and CAPAD as well as the support from various local government authorities. SVOs were called upon to continue to advance their efforts in project implementation for the villagers and for their personal growth.

Vice Minister of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development of China Mr. Ou Qingping also attended the event. In his keynote speech, he spoke highly of the VWM programme. Commendation awards were presented to outstanding SVOs, local partners, individual and corporate donors at the event.

Commendation awards presented to outstanding SVOs

Commendation awards presented to outstanding SVOs

Closing the session, our CEO Mr. Koh Lian Hock called for foundations, corporates and individuals to participate in the programme to improve clean water access and living conditions of rural communities in China.

Updates on ongoing Village Water Management (VWM) projects in China

Back in January, we shared the progress of our ongoing VWM projects in China. With most of the projects under the 7th batch of the VWM programme completed and pending inspection, we are picking up on the progress of the 8th batch of VWM projects spread across Hunan, Shandong and Guizhou provinces.

Construction of piped water system in Jinlan village, Guizhou

Construction of piped water system in Jinlan village, Guizhou province

Under the 8th batch of the VWM programme, the construction of water distribution and storage infrastructure has kicked off at some project sites, with some households in Huangshanzi and Zhujiazhuang villages in Shandong province and Qishu village in Guizhou province gaining access to clean piped water.

In addition to the construction of infrastructure, we also conducted a series of Health and Hygiene (H&H) training sessions for villagers in April and May. These sessions aim to increase the knowledge capacity of local communities, as well as raise awareness on best practices in health and hygiene. As we move towards the conclusion of the 8th batch of VWM projects later this year, stay tuned to learn more about our takeaways and milestones accomplished!

Villagers attend training on best practices in health & hygiene in Longshan village, Guizhou province

Villagers attend training on best practices in health & hygiene in Longshan village, Guizhou province

Learn more about the VWM programme in China here. To stay in touch with our latest updates, join our mailing list:

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Better access to affordable clean water no longer a pipe dream for 1,800 villagers in Myanmar

Earlier this year, we shared the progress of our pilot clean water project in Tetma village, Mandalay region, Myanmar. In partnership with Myanmar Engineering Society (MES), this project aims to create better access to affordable clean water for more than 1,800 villagers.

Tetma village is located in the dry zone in Myanmar and experiences low annual rainfall. When we first visited this area in 2014, we saw the importance of clean water to the villagers – especially in terms of livelihood, and their daily challenges to get access to clean water. Families typically start their day with a walk of up to an hour to fetch eight to 10 gallons of clean water from a well for personal use and their production of jaggery (honey and candy) for trade. The amount of jaggery produced is dependent on the amount of clean water that families can collect in time, before the local tradesman collect their products daily.

Women in Tetma village making jaggery (honey and candy) for trade

Women in Tetma village making jaggery (honey and candy) for trade

Handover of completed pilot clean water project to Tetma village on 12 June 2016

Under the pilot clean water project, a solar-powered and gravity-fed piped water distribution system was extended from an existing tube well to eight water points at six surrounding hamlets (small rural settlements with a small population), bringing access to clean water closer to the homes.

New water tower and storage tank

New water tower and storage tank

The local Water Management Committee (WMC) was trained to manage and monitor the new water distribution system, while workshops were conducted for both the WMC and local villagers to increase awareness on best practices in health and hygiene.

Since the completion of the system in April 2016, villagers shared that it has reduced walking distances and saved time on water collection. Some of them have been able to collect more water for their personal use and jaggery production with the reduced walking distance and lower cost.

Villagers collecting water at one of the water points

Villagers collecting water at one of the water points

We handed over the project to the village authorities at an official ceremony graced by Ministers and General Attorney from the Mandalay Regional Government, district administrators and villagers on 12 June 2016.

Lien AID Chairman Mr Michael Sim with local authorities at the official handover ceremony

Lien AID Chairman Mr Michael Sim with local authorities at the official handover ceremony

The completion of this pilot project in the Mandalay region marks Lien AID’s first step in enabling clean water access for Myanmar’s rural communities. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the outcomes of this project for the next two years. Moving forward, we are also studying the feasibility of piloting clean water projects in the Ayeyarwady region, bringing the gift of clean water to more rural communities in Myanmar.

Learn more about Myanmar’s water woes and our focus areas here.

Clean water sources critical amid Cambodia’s prolonged drought

Cambodia’s drought crisis

Exhausted drinking water supplies, cracked river beds, dead animal carcasses and ruined crops – a barren and desolate sight greets many Cambodians as the country is gripped by one of the worst droughts in decades.[1]

According to a recent Channel NewsAsia report, many regions in Cambodia have not received significant rain since late last year and about two-thirds of the country now has insufficient drinking water. One of the regions is Kampong Thom province, where locals shared that they have not recalled seeing heavy rain for about a year.[2]

Our upcoming intervention at Kampong Thom province

Clean water sources have become even more critical amid Cambodia’s drought crisis. Back in 2015, as part of our Cambodia three-year work plan, we identified Kampong Thom province as one of our key focus provinces.

We conducted needs assessments and baseline surveys in seven communes within Kampong Thom province between 22  February to 3 March this year and found that most of the respondents acknowledged to falling sick from drinking untreated water.

We have kicked off our Community Water Enterprise intervention in these seven communes in Kampong Thom province this month:

  • Kampong Kou commune, Kampong Svay district
  • Prey Kuy commune, Kampong Svay district
  • Koul commune, Prasat Sambou district
  • Sraeung commune, Prasat Sambou district
  • Chhuk commune, Prasat Sambou district
  • Mean Chey commune, Prasat Sambou district
  • Msar Krang commune, Stoung district

Stepping up on our CWE projects in Cambodia

In addition to our upcoming interventions in Kampong Thom province and Ta An commune in Siem Reap, we are also exploring viability of projects at Kratie and Stung Treng provinces. Both are located along the Mekong River and the Provincial Department of Rural Development (PDRP) reported only 48% and 49.5% of families with access to improved water supply in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces respectively. Some of these local communities also face:

  • Risk of exposure to arsenic-contaminated water
  • Limited access to treated drinking water
  • Lack of piped water supply
  • Low water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices

Join us now to work together towards a common vision – better water governance and a future where clean water access is available to everyone. You can also learn more about our work in Cambodia here.

 

References

[1] Crothers, L. (2016, 05 05). Animals die as Cambodia is gripped by worst drought in decades. Retrieved from The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/may/05/animals-die-cambodia-worst-drought-decades

[2] Board, J. (2016, 05 18). Desperation grows as drought grips Cambodia. Retrieved from Channel News Asia: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/desperation-grows-as/2792150.html

China: A Thirst for Change

A Chinese villager using our piped water system

This month, Lien AID shared about how our Village Water Management (VWM) programme helps to mitigate some of the sustainability issues faced by water projects in China on China Water Risk. China Water Risk is a non-profit initiative dedicated to foster efficient and responsible use of China’s water resources by engaging global investment and business community, civil society and individuals in understanding and managing China’s water risks.

Despite large-scale investments from the central government, poor operational and financial management of facilities, deteriorating source water quality and insufficient water resources can impact the success of centralised water supply projects.

Lien AID’s VWM programme looks at mitigating some of these sustainability issues by adopting an effective and efficient implementation framework. Since 2012, we have enabled 72,150 villagers from 50 rural poor villages in China to gain access to clean tap water.

To understand more about how the VWM programme aims to deliver sustainable water access through centralised water supply infrastructure, local water advocates, local government participation, community management and cost-sharing, read the complete opinion piece at China Water Risk. To learn more details about our programme in China, visit Lien AID China’s new microsite.

 

World Water Day and Lien AID in 2016

Observing World Water Day 2016

22 March marks the annual international observance of World Water Day where we learn more about water related issues, be inspired to share and take action to make a difference.

As we look forward to learning from the United Nations World Water Development Report that is launching on 22 March, we are taking this opportunity to share our recent Community Water Enterprise (CWE) project handover to the communities in Banteay Meanchey Province, Cambodia, last Wednesday, 16 March 2016.

Handover of CWE project to communities in Banteay Meanchey Province, Cambodia

This CWE project was implemented in partnership with Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) and Asian Development Bank (ADB). MRD and ADB had improved access to clean water with the development of community ponds, wells and rainwater jars previously. Lien AID joined the partnership and worked with Provincial Department of Rural Development, local authorities and commune councils to set up water treatment plants to enhance the quality of drinking water, as well as to train new Water Management Committees and water entrepreneurs, in both Phnom Dei and Bos Sbov Communes.

New water entrepreneur, Mr Bo Saroum, 25 years old, shared, “This business teaches me about the production of treated water and water distribution system. Villagers can now have clean bottled water at affordable prices and I can also look forward to earning more income to support my family.”

Under this CWE project, these water entrepreneurs will be serving and selling clean affordable bottled water to 15,000 villagers.

Ms Tark Sanith purchased clean bottled water at the handover event in Banteay Meanchey Province, Cambodia, on 16 March 2016.

Ms Tark Sanith purchased clean bottled water at the handover event in Banteay Meanchey Province, Cambodia, on 16 March 2016.

One of the villagers, Ms Tark Sanith, 41 years old, who attended the handover event said, “This treated water will prevent my children from getting water-related illnesses and I would no longer need to boil water before drinking.”

Lien AID in 2016

2016 marks Lien AID’s 10th year in enabling sustainable access to clean water and sanitation for rural poor in Asia. This year, we are focusing our efforts on:

  • Expanding our programmes for 120,000 new beneficiaries in 47 communities across four countries – Cambodia, China, Myanmar and Vietnam.
  • Enhancing programme and technical support for Monitoring & Evaluation of our projects.
  • Increasing public awareness on the issue of clean water and sanitation in Asia, as well as Lien AID’s mission.

Back in January, we shared some of the groundwork completed for upcoming projects in China, Vietnam and Myanmar. In Northeast Vietnam, we have since completed our Phase II research in four villages in Bac Quang and Vi Xuyen Districts and we are starting our pilot projects in two of these villages this month.

Stay tune as we share significant learnings and milestones from these pilot projects in Northeast Vietnam, as well as our 8th batch of Village Water Management (VWM) programme in China, pilot project in Tetma village, Magwe division, Myanmar and CWE projects in Cambodia in the coming months!

Coutts Foundation X Lien AID – Bringing Clean Water to 17,959 rural poor in China

Coutts Foundation partnered with Lien AID in February last year for the 5th batch of projects initiated under the Village Water Management programme in China and which were recently completed in July 2015. The 11 projects in this batch are located in the prefectures of Zunyi, Bijie and Anshun in Guizhou province and have received strong local support with 74% of co-funding from local township/ county governments as well as villagers contributing cash or labour in kind.

VWM China Batch 5 projects in Zunyi

VWM China Batch 5 projects in Zunyi

The projects encountered some challenges during the implementation process, largely due to obstructions and delays associated with national rail works in Anshun prefecture as well as resettlement of village groups and rural-urban migration that resulted in a drop in number of villagers requiring clean water access in the selected locations. The continued delays in the completion of the rail works resulted in more than a 6 month delay to projects located in Anshun. We will continue to follow up with the Student Village officers of affected projects as well as the local officials to ensure secure villagers’ access to the water supplies.

VWM China Batch 5 projects in Bijie and Anshun

VWM China Batch 5 projects in Bijie and Anshun

25 Student Village Officers attended the initial 5-day training workshop during the project development and training phase and subsequently 11 of those Officers (for the projects/ villages selected) were mentored throughout the project implementation and construction process.

VWM China Batch 5 Training Workshop

VWM China Batch 5 Training Workshop

To ensure the benefits of the clean water access are realised and sustained over a long period, village water management committees were formalised, with rules and regulations instituted and recognised by local governments. Water tariffs that could support the regular operations and maintenance of the facilities and which were acceptable for the villagers were also agreed upon in discussions with all local community stakeholders. A total of 25 health and hygiene sessions were also held in the 11 villages by the Student Villager Officers.

2,942m3 of water storage capacity and 203km run of pipes have been delivered which will ensure that villagers have access to sufficient supplies of clean water in their households, even during the dry season.

Water storage tank in Gaoxin Village, Yuanhou Township, Chishui County, Zunyi Prefecture

Water storage tank in Gaoxin Village, Yuanhou Township, Chishui County, Zunyi Prefecture

The projects have benefitted 17,959 rural poor in Zunyi, Bijie and Anshun prefectures of Guizhou province with clean water. All water facilities at the 11 villages have been handed over to the local communities to manage and operate, with legal ownership residing in their hands. We will however continue to monitor the usage of the facilities through data collection from water meters and correspondences with local community leaders for another 2 years.

Clean water piped to households in the prefectures of Zunyi, Bijie and Anshun

Clean water piped to households in the prefectures of Zunyi, Bijie and Anshun

A Small Price to Pay for Better Health

Mr. Touch and his wife at their home in Preak Koy Village

Mr. Touch and his wife at their home in Preak Koy Village

Preak Koy Village, Preak Koy Commune
Cambodia

“When I was a boy we drank river water without boiling it and didn’t get sick.” said Mr. Touch Bunthorn, a resident of Preak Koy Commune in Cambodia. “During the Pol Pot regime people began to get sick from drinking river water, so we started boiling the water before drinking it.” Mr. Touch and the families in his commune continued boiling water for decades. Like many families in their commune, the Touch family used forest wood as fuel and spent up to six hours per week gathering wood from the surrounding woods.

Mr. Touch and his family of ten live in a traditional elevated house along the banks of the Mekong River in Cambodia. Mr. Touch and his family, vegetable merchants in a nearby market, sit down at a massive wooden table to tell their story. Lim Heng and Ly Meng, wearing matching red and blue shorts, play and stare during the conversation.

After the UNICEF funded community water treatment plant opened in November, 2014, Mr. Touch’s family began drinking from 20-litre bottles of treated water. “We save time now because we don’t have to gather wood to boil the water. My family can use that time to work, study or relax instead. My grandsons no longer wake up in the mornings with stomach pain.” said Mr. Touch.

Lim Heng and Ly Meng, age six

Lim Heng and Ly Meng, age six

Mr. Touch told us that before drinking treated water, his grandsons, six year old twins Lim Heng and Ly Meng, woke up in the mornings complaining of stomach aches. After they began drinking treated water their stomach aches have gone away. We asked Lim Heng, age six, about the stomach pain and he was hesitant to talk. He did point to his stomach when we asked him to show us where the pain was, and he told us that it’s gone away now.

“The treated water has improved my whole family’s health. I prefer the taste and color of the treated water and that it is consistently the same quality.” Mr. Touch said. “I also like that I can go to the treatment plant at any time. Some other people here sell water but I never know how they treat it. In this community I can take a look for myself.”

Mr. Touch said that he feels confident that he is buying treated water from his Community Water Entrepreneur. While there are other local water vendors, Mr. Touch mentioned that he is concerned that it may come from untreated well water.

Mr. Touch’s household of ten people purchases about ten bottles of treated water per month. At 1,000 Cambodian Riel per bottle, a 20-litre bottle of water from the community water treatment plant costs one quarter of that sold in the local market.

Mr. Hav Lay, Community Water Entrepreneur

Mr. Hav Lay, Community Water Entrepreneur

After talking with Mr. Touch, we met with Mr. Hav Lay, Preak Koy Commune’s Community Water Entrepreneur. Mr. Lay told us that back in November his treatment plant sold only about 300 bottles per month but that over the past five months his sales have increased sevenfold to almost 2,000 bottles per month. “I’m thankful for this job because it gives me a more predictable income supply than I had before I’m hoping that in the future I can get a trailer so that we can deliver water directly to houses.” said Mr. Lay.

This project in Preak Koy commune, implemented under the Community Water Enterprise programme in Cambodia, was supported with co-funding from UNICEF Cambodia

More Time to Farm

Mrs Chorn Sina and her husband in their home in Pak Nam Village

Mrs Chorn Sina and her husband in their home in Pak Nam Village

Pak Nam Village, Pong Ro Commune
Cambodia

Mrs. Chorn Sina and her husband are tobacco farmers in Pak Nam Village, a rural community of just over 1,000 families along Touch River in Pong Ro Commune, Kampong Cham Province, Cambodia. A UNICEF funded Community Water Treatment Plant opened in Pak Nam Village in November, 2014. Before the plant opened, Mrs. Chorn and her husband had to gather firewood from a nearby forest to boil their water.

“Gathering wood to boil water took us several hours every week so we spent less time working on our farm and with our family.” Said Mrs. Chorn. Now Mrs. Chorn and her family of three, including her husband and ten year old daughter, buy four to five bottles of treated water every week. The bottles cost 1,000 Riel each. “We think it’s worth the time savings to buy water instead of boiling water and we tell our friends to do the same.” said Mrs. Chorn.

During the harvest season, Mrs. Chorn’s family plans to buy even more water, about one bottle every day, so that she can provide clean drinking water for their hired labour. Along with buying water for workers, Mrs. Chorn tells her friends and family that the water makes her feel healthier than boiled river or well water.

“We like that we can inspect the water treatment plant at any time,” said Mrs. Chorn, “It makes us feel confident that what we buy is not just untreated well water.”

Mrs. Si Mean showing the bottles of treated water

Mrs. Si Mean showing the bottles of treated water

Inside the Community Water Treatment plant works Mrs. Si Mean, Pong Ro commune’s Community Water Entrepreneur. Covered under a pink plastic sheet are dozens of 20-litre bottles, filled with water that has just been treated.

Mrs. Si keeps detailed handwritten notes on bottle sales every day. Over the three weeks leading up to our visit, Mrs. Si’s notes indicate that she sold an average of 71 bottles of treated water per day and generated about 525 USD in revenue. As with Mrs. Chorn’s family, Community Water Entrepreneur Mrs. Si was also a tobacco farmer before taking on her new role. “We sell about 2,100 20-litre bottles of water every month,” said Mrs. Si, “but I hope that will continue to grow because we can generate four times as much water.”

Handwritten sales records

Handwritten sales records

Indeed, although sales are strong for Mrs. Si, only 15% of families in Paknam Village buy water from the Community Water Treatment Plant today. Commune Chief Mr. Khim Porteang is happy with the sales so far but thinks they could grow. “We think the progress is good so far but I would like if all families bought water from the plant.” said Mr. Khim.

A few of the villagers we talked with do not buy water from the Community Water Treatment Plant. These included a family with a rainwater collection tank, a family with an arsenic-free well near their home and a family which gathers and sells firewood as a business – they already had a large pile of firewood available and said they don’t mind spending extra time gathering wood for themselves.

This project in Pong Ro commune, implemented under the Community Water Enterprise programme in Cambodia, was supported with co-funding from UNICEF Cambodia

Keeping Children in School in Koah Roka

Schoolchildren in Koah Rokar village where schools receive 10 free 20-litre bottles of treated water per day.

Schoolchildren in Koah Rokar village where schools receive 10 free 20-litre bottles of treated water per day.

Chrey Thmei Village, Koah Roka Commune
Cambodia

Koah Roka is a commune of 508 families just a few kilometers from the Vietnam border. Carts drawn by water buffalo move along the dirt road that runs into Vietnam, arriving empty into Cambodia and leaving heavily laden with bags of rice. Along this main dirt road there are three schools and a community health center.

A Community Water Treatment plant opened here in March 2015 and two of the schools now use the treated water from the plant, with the remaining one using a donated rainwater storage system. In the few months since the opening of the plant, 82% of the families in the commune are also now regularly purchasing treated water.

Mr. Nhen Bunthorn, Community Water Entreprenuer in Koah Roka commune, Prey Veng Commune Cambodia. Mr. Nhen has expanded his business by buying this delivery truck so he can deliver water to households and schools himself.

Mr. Nhen Bunthorn, Community Water Entreprenuer in Koah Roka commune, Prey Veng Province Cambodia. Mr. Nhen has expanded his business by buying this delivery truck so he can deliver water to households and schools himself.

Teacher Mrs. Choup Sida credits the Community Water Treatment plant with helping students focus more in class. “We never had treated water at our school before the Community Treatment Plant opened because a bottle of water from Vietnam costs 12,000 Dong (about 0.55 USD) and we could not afford it. We wanted a water storage tank but they are very expensive and only one school in this commune has had one donated.”

Inside Mrs. Choup’s classroom, a 20-litre bottle of water sits at the front of the class. Students in Mrs. Choup’s classroom, as with other classrooms in Koah Roka, can get up to drink water when they need to during a break in class. “Before the CWE, students had to either bring water from home or drink water from storage jars in the neighborhood. It took extra time and became disruptive. Students would leave school just to get water. Now my students can stay at school longer to either focus on work or talk with each other

Schoolchildren in Kaoh Rokar village.

Schoolchildren in Kaoh Rokar village.

Mrs. Choup has also noticed a decrease in students skipping classes due to diarrhoea and other illnesses. The chief of the nearby commune health center, Dr. Long Choum, previously saw about 8 to 10 cases of diarrhoea related illness every day before the CWE opened. Now he sees only two or three. Since the CWE has only been open for four months, he expects that the biggest impact is yet to come.

Mr. Long Choum, commune health center chief.

Mr. Long Choum, commune health center chief.

“The biggest change will come once the rainy season arrives” said Dr. Long, “When the commune floods many of the toilets are not elevated above ground — it is too expensive. The flood water will overflow the toilets and make the flood water not safe to drink. Then we will see big health benefits from having so many people drink treated water.”

This project in Koah Roka commune, implemented under the Community Water Enterprise programme in Cambodia, was supported with co-funding from UNICEF Cambodia

Affordable Water Eases The Burden of Poverty

Mrs. Yong Pom and her grandchildren. Before the Community Water Treatment plant opened Mrs. Yong spent $10-15 per month on medicine. Now she spends far less than that on treated water.

Mrs. Yong Pom and her grandchildren. Before the Community Water Treatment plant opened Mrs. Yong spent $10-15 per month on medicine. Now she spends far less than that on treated water.

Beung Khaik Village, Peam Meanchey Commune
Cambodia

Mrs. Yong Pom used to spend about 10 to 15 USD every time one of her grandchildren got sick. Their illnesses, mostly diarrhoea caused by unsafe drinking water, would require four to five doses of medicine. Drinking water, imported from nearby Vietnam, costs 2,500 Riel (about 0.55 USD) per 20-litre bottle and they could not afford to drink it regularly.

Peam Meanchey commune where Mrs Yong Pom lives, is on an island approximately 80km from Phnom Penh. Her children work in garment factories in the city and send home what they can to help Mrs. Yong care for their children while they are away. Despite this income, Mrs. Yong’s family is living in poverty (according to Cambodia’s ID Poor programme).

In March 2015 the UNICEF funded Community Water Treatment plant opened in Peam Meanchey commune and now an affordable 20-litre bottle of treated water can be purchased for just 1,000 Riel (about 0.25 USD) from a storefront just a kilometer away from Mrs Yong’s house. “This affordable supply of water lets me provide my grandchildren with something safe to drink. I’m grateful that we can now drink clean water and get sick less often. We spend less money on treated water than we spent before on medicine alone.” Said Mrs. Yong.

This project in Peam Meanchey commune, implemented under the Community Water Enterprise programme in Cambodia, was supported with co-funding from UNICEF Cambodia