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.

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