Cambodian, Taiwanese clubs team up for clean water
Rotarians from Cambodia and Taiwan, including Chin-Hsien Lee and Bunthai Prom (front row, fourth and sixth from left), celebrate a Matching Grant water project in Cambodia. Photo courtesy of the Rotary Club of Panchiao North, Taiwan
A US$22,700 water project is giving more than 350 households in northwestern Cambodia clean water from 80 hand-operated pump wells. Fourteen clubs in districts 3350, 3460, and 3490, which cover parts of Cambodia, Taiwan, and Thailand, and a Rotary Foundation Matching Grant have supported the effort.
Villagers using the wells, the last of which were drilled in December, previously obtained water from rivers and ponds. Less than 40 percent of rural Cambodians -- and less than 10 percent of the poorest half of the country's rural population -- have access to clean, potable water, according to the Cambodian Ministry of Planning.
Bunthai Prom, past president of the Rotary Club of Siem Reap Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia, which led the project, says villagers use the well water for vegetable gardening, drinking, and cooking. Households without well access received 80 water filters through the effort.
The project also taught villagers how to maintain the wells and educated them about the health benefits of clean water. The Siem Reap Angkor club provided training through radio broadcasts and direct visits. This month, the international sponsor clubs are holding a free medical service camp, which means that District Governor-elect Chin-Hsien Lee, of the Rotary Club of Panchiao North, Taiwan, and other Rotarians will spend a long day bouncing along remote roads to reach a dozen wells built through the project. When the driving becomes too rough, they will hike.
For the two-year-old Siem Reap Angkor club, which supervised a local drilling company's work during construction, the effort brought both challenges and rewards. "During the rainy season, we had difficulty transporting equipment to villages, but we all did our best," Prom says. "Our members are very committed."
The connection between clean water and child survival
- Unsafe water and poor sanitation and hygiene kill 5,000 children under age five around the world every day, or more than 1.8 million each year. Eighty-eight percent of diarrheal disease is caused by contaminated water and inadequate sanitation and hygiene.
- Globally, diarrhea kills more people than tuberculosis or malaria. Five times as many children die of diarrhea than HIV/AIDS.
- The number of children who die around the world every year from diarrhea is equivalent to the number of children under age five living in London and New York combined.
- For every US$1 contributed to water and sanitation projects, the expected return is between $3 and $34.
Sources: UNICEF, World Health Organization
This article appeared in the January issue of Rotary World