By Mom Chantara Soleil
At least 1,400 rural population in Cambodia’s newest province of Tboung Khum will have access to more affordable purified water supply run by local youth entrepreneurs – a joint project whose first water purification station was inaugurated today.
“Clean water means life. We need clean water to survive. Drinking clean water prevents us from diseases. Untreated water causes diseases, wastes our money on medication and damages our health. Unsafe water affects children’s development and their education,” said H.E. Try Meng, Rural Development Secretary of State when presiding over the inauguration.
According to Country Director of Plan International Cambodia Mr. Jan Jaap Kleinrensink, the child rights organisation invests all efforts in sustainability of the project rather than a short term solution.
“We are applying holistic approach toward sustainability. The Water Purification Station provides youth with jobs, supplies safe water, and encourages the role of Commune Council in its operation. Though it’s very reasonable, not all community people can afford the price of the supplied water. But this is not the only solution that Plan and partners are providing,” added Mr. Jan Jaap Kleinrensink.
Inspired by a water purification technology model of a French organisation known as 1001 Fontaines, Plan initiated the so-called Youth-managed Water Enterprise project being implemented in partnership with the Commune Council and Teuk Saat 1001 under the funding assistance from Plan in Korea.
It develops entrepreneurial capacity of as well as provides technical and managerial assistance to interested youth to invest reasonable resource to run a local water purification station that supplies potable water for 1,500 riel [or US$ 0.37] per 20 liters – twice lower than the current market price.
“Under the management of the youth entrepreneurs and Commune Council, a part of the income from the business will subsidize very poor families to have similar access,” said Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist Mr. Hang Hybunna.
The Inter-Censal Population Survey 2013 indicates that half of rural Cambodians still don’t have access to improved water supply. The problem is exacerbated during the dry season when many of the sources get dry, forcing people to use unsafe water from ponds, unprotected wells and the like.
Studies also show that issue remains there with some particular improved water sources, as water is transported or stored in such a way that it is no longer safe by the time it is consumed.
“Our children and communities need to be healthy to join in the development of Cambodia. The support from Plan and Teuk Saat 1001 with the water purification station establishment is very important. It is not only addressing the clean water assess issue among 54% of this community, but contributing to the commitment of the Royal Government of Cambodia to ensure 100% access to safe water across the country by 2025,” added H.E. Try Meng.