Clean water supply

Clean water supply

29 July, 2013
RainWater Cambodia
Chinese International School’s ‘Waterworks’ group builds rainwater-harvesting systems in Cambodia
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Access to clean drinking water has long been a major issue in developing countries. The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals touches upon this, with one of the targets to “halve, by 2015, the proportion of population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.” Cambodia is a prime example of the barriers developing countries must overcome in the endeavor to supply sustainable and safe drinking water to its citizens. Not only does Cambodia lack the necessary infrastructure, but the country is also plagued with high levels of natural arsenic within the water table and illegal industrial waste dumping.

Waterworks, one of Hong Kong’s Chinese International School’s Global Issues Groups, was founded with the purpose of addressing the importance of water conservation and taking imperative action through fundraising for RainWater Cambodia. Over the first week of summer, along with 8 other students from Waterworks, I journeyed to Dong Tong Commune in Cambodia to assist RainWater Cambodia with the construction of rainwater harvesting systems.

Since its founding in 2011, Waterworks has managed to raise over HK$200,000 from multiple fundraising events, such as the Chinese International School sustainable fashion show, ACQUA. The Global Issues Group has also been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to collaborate with the directors of RainWater Cambodia to ensure an efficient use of the donated funds.

Because providing rainwater-harvesting systems is the empirical solution to Cambodia’s lack of clean accessible water, the team decided to fund the construction of water systems for households (known as Jumbo Jars), designed by RainWater Cambodia. These Jumbo Jars can store up to 3,000 liters of water and will last for 10-15 years. To date, RainWater Cambodia has assisted over 100,000 people by providing similar rainwater-harvesting systems, and is currently building Jumbo Jars in Dong Tong district’s 11 communes.

The Waterworks team spent 3 days under the blistering sun, faced with laborious tasks such as cement mixing. Additionally, the lack of clean water in the province resulted in us enduring our first-ever water rationing. Despite the grim living conditions, the Waterworks team managed to successfully build rainwater-harvesting systems for two underprivileged households over the weeklong excursion.

As our trip neared its end, we were tasked with planting 75 trees around a UNDP donated reservoir. 80% of Cambodia’s population lives in areas that are vulnerable to floods, droughts and other weather-related disasters. Dong Tong Commune is no different, with the cracking soil being the first indicators of a drought. Although the monsoon season began a month before our arrival in Cambodia, there was only half a day of rainfall over the entire week. RainWater Cambodia’s tree planting initiatives are aimed at slowing down water runoff, which over time will recharge underground aquifers benefiting Cambodia’s agricultural industry.

For more information about RainWater Cambodia and their work in Cambodia, please visit: www.rainwatercambodia.org

If you are interested in supporting RainWater Cambodia, please visit: RainWater Cambodia or email rainwatercambodia@online.com.kh

For more photos, please visit: RainWater Cambodia Gallery

By: Matthew Ho
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