A record 12 Community Water Enterprises handed over to the communities, bringing clean affordable water to close to 30,000 people in rural Cambodia

“I am very happy because from now on, everyone is able to drink treated water. When we bought the water from the Community Water Enterprise, we demonstrated to the children that this water is safe for drinking. We also told them that they should only drink water from these bottles from now on. The children do not like drinking the river water anyway, because it is smelly and still dirty.” – Ms Seung Khom, 39
Kampong Chhnang Province

The need for an affordable source of clean drinking water continues to plague poor rural communities in Cambodia. In some communities, clean drinking water is simply not available with no connectivity with water infrastructure. In many, commercially-produced bottled water remains too expensive.

In 2010, Lien AID has worked in close partnership with the Ministry of Rural Development in Cambodia to pilot the first community water enterprise in Chhnok Trou Commune, in the Kampong Chhnang Province. Three years later, this enterprise continues to be a thriving social business that is owned and run by the community, providing bottle water at a quarter of the commercial price, and conveniently within the commune as well as for the neighbouring floating villages.

While the pilot began within the floating villages of Kampong Chhnang Province, it was soon ascertained that communities that lived on floodplains as well as those on land were equally needing improved access to clean water.

Recently, Lien AID handed over a record twelve community water enterprises to the community, benefitting close to 30,000 people across 23 villages (including those on floodplains and on land) in the Kampong Chhnang and Siem Reap Provinces. Cambodian government officials and villagers were present at the milestone event.

“This achievement has significantly contributed into the government commitment as set in national policy and national rectangular strategy phase II to improve the well-being and living standard of the Cambodian people. In the name of the Ministry of Rural Development, I suggest commune councils continue to manage and maintain these plants to ensure its sustainable operations to meet the needs of the rural community and in the line of the Ministry of Rural Development’s objective under its slogan of Sustainable Rural Development.” – H.E. Tray Meng, Secretary of State, Ministry of Rural Development

The organisation continues to reach out to more communities to provide an improved and sustainable access to clean water in Cambodia, expanding its coverage to Kandal and Kg. Cham Provinces. Beyond Cambodia, it is also expanding the community water enterprises programme to Tra VInh Province in Vietnam.

To find out more about our programmes, take a look at Implement Sustainable Programmes.

Rural township home to dinosaur fossils now equipped with inaugural permanent water facilities

A township in mountainous rural China that became a major tourist attraction after archaeologists found dinosaur fossils there recently came into the international spotlight again but this time, not because of its archaeological past but instead its now promising future.

Till last year, the community within the Chuxiong Prefecture in the Dinosaur Valley Township lived without a permanent drinking water facility in the village. While there is a natural spring that flows through the village, this water is contaminated by animal manure and waste materials. In order to obtain relatively unpolluted water from upstream, villagers need to spend considerable time and effort to collect water manually from the main source of the spring, which is at a distance of 1,150 meters away in the surrounding hills. Many resorted to harvesting rainwater, which was especially inconsistent during the annual drought. A primary school in the village also had insufficient facilities to store water for its students. Wastewater from the school kitchen, teachers shower room and other washing points flowed freely, untreated. School toilets were also inadequate.

Last year, a collaboration between Green Cross International and Lien AID installed the first permanent water facilities at the village, bringing an improved access to clean water to the community. Two new suitable spring water sources were discovered through extensive research and evaluation. Water storage tanks were subsequently constructed, and a water distribution network set-up, piping water into homes and the school. Shower facilities with solar heaters as well as eco-toilets (with handwashing facilities) were also built in the school. Additionally, health and hygiene training was conducted to facilitate behavioural change.

The project is estimated to have benefited 442 people in the village.

Four rural villages in Chongqing Province have new lease of life

In the dead of winter or the height of summer, people from the rural villages of Chongqing Province walk long distances, traverse risky terrain and brave the natural elements everyday to collect and carry home fresh water on their backs. During the annual drought season, these difficulties are made worse with the number of fresh water sources dwindling and consequent distances necessary to travel increasing.

For these villagers, collecting water was a dangerous yet necessary task. Zhang Qiong, a 35-year-old housewife from Shi An Village knows this all too well. When Ms. Zhang was 12, her father died when collecting water for the family. “My father was carrying the buckets when he fell in and drowned. He may have slipped or fainted because of the summer heat.”

Through a collaboration between Lien AID and the China Association of Poverty Alleviation and Development (CAPAD), communities living in four rural villages including Shi An now benefit from an improved access to safe water. A total of eight water storage tanks were built, with one village also equipped with a filtration tank and five decompression tanks for further water treatment. Water distribution systems were also erected, with all homes now able to receive piped water. Good hygiene practices were also shared with these communities.

Strong community involvement and commitment is fundamental in ensuring the sustainability of the water project. For Shi An Village, 27-year-old Zhong Enkui played a key role in bringing improved access to safe water for the community. He is a college graduate who is working as a Student Village Officer (“SVO”) at Shi An focusing on improving the livelihood of these villagers. He attended the SVO training programme run by CAPAD, which focuses on how to alleviate poverty through activities linked to economic development.

As part of the training programme, Lien AID provided lessons on water and sanitation project management to the SVOs. It then gets trainees to suggest projects. Suitable ones are carried out, with Lien AID providing part of the funding. “I knew the problems in Shi An village, but I did not know of the possible solutions. The training sessions gave me new ideas.” Additionally, the Chinese authorities and villagers also provided some funds needed for the project.

With the completion of the projects at these four villages, an estimated 4,582 villagers are now able to access clean water from their homes and Lien AID continues to train SVOs and initiate new projects at poverty-stricken villages in China.

“Water is essential to life. Without clean drinking water, one can’t survive, let alone work,” said Ms. Zhang. “So if you don’t even have water, what’s there to talk about for economic progress and development?”

To find out more about our programme in China, take a look at our Village Water Management Programme.

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.

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.

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.