Water and Hygiene

In the Western world, access to water and hygiene is so easy. I mean, do you ever spend much time thinking about where you will go to the toilet? How to find clean water to wash your hands afterwards? Where to get water to wash your clothes in? The location of the nearest water source for a drink? And I don’t mean coffee!

I discovered there are lots of things we take for granted on my recent trip to Cambodia. Find out why I was in Cambodia HERE. And read my recent post about how we have no idea how the things we learnt at school have such a huge impact on our physical health.

In Cambodian villages, mothers spend a LOT of time and energy on . . .

  1. Finding water for their families to use.
  2. Carrying water back to the place where they live. This might be a few hundred meters. Or it might be many kilometers.
  3. Finding ways to reduce water use to minimise effort spent on Numbers 1 and 2. Eg. wash clothes less often.

I had NO Idea

The huge amount of energy required to get water, not to mention the time spent, means every day life in Cambodia is just plain hard work. And a lot of the time, the water is nothing like the clean, clear “liquid gold” we in the West are used to. But the impact of difficult access to water and hygiene is just the beginning.

So many kids in Cambodia, and other developing nations, get sick from bad water. Then they miss a lot of school. Which means they don’t get a very good education. And then they often bomb out before getting to High School. This puts them at risk of life-long of poverty: witness the extreme end of the poverty cycle. And it’s all to do with clean water!

I mean, we really have NO idea how much having access to clean water, and having good hygiene habits, impact on daily life.

In many parts of Cambodia, Samaritan’s Purse Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Projects make all the difference. Not just now, but into the future of a child’s well-being.

Water and Hygiene: Do It or Die

The day we visited the Water and Hygiene projects during our trip, our team of students helped build a latrine, and watered veggies being grown for market. Later that afternoon, we visited a house where a water pump was installed not so long ago. (See pictures below.) The pump provides fresh, clean water for drinking, washing and growing crops.

Children in these households don’t get so sick anymore. Their Cambodian mothers can be confident their children will probably live past the age of five years old. What?! I do remember being concerned about my kids’ health when they were toddlers, but I have to be honest and admit I never considered they might die. Our Western way of life means infant mortality is uncommon. It’s nothing like that in Cambodia.

Making a Difference Both Now AND in the Future

However, water and hygiene projects such as the ones we saw are changing all that. Because they are no longer sick, these children have the opportunity to regularly attend school. And their families learn how to grow veggies, to sell at the local market. This creates employment and much-needed finance to pay for basics such as shoes, clothing, books and transport. Oh, and also, food!

Water and hygiene projects make a HUGE difference in both the short-term and the long-term for these families.

Water adn Hygiene: Latrine building
Generally villagers build the walls and roof of the latrine, but it was some Aussie students this day!
Water and Hygiene: Water pump
This is a well-cared for water pump. It has its own roof and a veggie garden, including flowers, around it. Samaritan’s Purse built the water pump. All parts are available at the local market. Can you imagine how difficult it might be if you had to import a piece from overseas when the pump breaks down?



Thanks to Jade Baker for the photos

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