Don’t water it down: it’s time to take H2O seriously

Don’t water it down: it’s time to take H2O seriously

There is enough fresh water on the planet for everyone, so why do over 6 million Cambodians go without safe drinking water every day? Elloise Brady is outraged and you should be too.

How many times a day do you turn on your tap and enjoy clean, safe H2O? You shower in it every morning, wash your dishes in it, even water your garden with it – maybe even your grass. You drink it tens of times a day. Fill your glass up, take a sip and then forget about the rest. Down the drain it goes. In Australia we take clean water for granted – but we don’t take it seriously. Water is vital. It’s a necessity for eating, cooking, washing and most importantly, drinking.

Water is life.But what happens when you can’t get safe water? It’s a pretty normal situation for 6.3 million Cambodians, so what do they do?

A daily choice that’s deadly

When clean water isn’t available for you and your family, you’re faced with a frightening choice:

You can spend a huge proportion of your income on buying bottled water for anything from drinking, to washing your family’s bowls at night. The average income in Cambodia is approximately US$950 a year. That comes in at just over US$2.50 per day. Meanwhile, a 1.5 litre bottle of water can be anywhere between US$0.50 and 0.70. That’s about one fifth of the average income for half of the body’s daily drinking needs. What if you’re supporting your wife? Or your child? Or your five children? Your whole income could go on giving your family clean water, leaving nothing left over for food, clothing and certainly none for a rainy day. For a lot of people, this is impossible. They struggle to put rice in their children’s bowls, let alone provide safe water to cook it in. So you go with the second option.

You’re forced to take a risk with the toxic water that is available from the rivers, streams and taps, and live with the consequences. Or don’t live. In Cambodia, 50% of the population are faced with this choice on a daily basis. For some of those people, it kills them. You don’t buy clean water. You take a forced leap of faith and provide your family with water from the local river or lake, which is untreated, unsanitary and riddled with diseases. Not only do you drink it, but you wash in it and you was your children in it. You wash your dishes in it. You clean your house with it. And when your children get sick? You have to shoulder the cost. You take them to the local clinic, hoping they have the medicine you need to keep your child alive. Depending on where you live, your local health clinic might even keep accessing that same filthy river or lake for washing, drinking and cleaning. Because there is no other option available to them.

900 children world wide die every day from diarrhoeal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation and it’s a huge problem in Cambodia. But that’s the price you pay for making an impossible decision.

Water for the future

Access to safe water is one of the most basic human rights but it’s something that half the population of Cambodia goes without. How is that ok? The UN is dedicated to providing universal access to safe drinking water by 2030. Sunrise Cambodia is dedicated to providing Cambodians with safe drinking water now. There is enough in Cambodia for everyone. But without the proper infrastructure it will remain out of reach to the most vulnerable of communities.

Boy in boat on water
The inhabitants of this famous floating village are living off the water that is killing them

One of the villages Sunrise works with is a famous floating village. 1200 people live there, getting most of their daily needs from the freshwater lake that they live on and it’s killing them. Oh, the irony of living on a huge lake and not having access to clean water. More than half of the village are acutely ill from drinking the water that surrounds them and all they need is a water filtration system to have have endless supplies of water, literally, all around them. This will cost fifty thousand dollars – how ironic.

For rural villages in Cambodia, a simple pump is all that is needed for endless supplies of clean drinking water. Not just for a family, or two, but for a whole village. These pumps are available. They cost four hundred dollars to buy and pay local tradesmen to install them in a village. That’s a small price to pay for never letting a village face those two deadly options again.

Let it flow

What can you do to give people in Cambodia the same luxury that you take for granted every single day? To implement an effective and efficient system in one village isn’t cheap. But consider the rate of return; a long term safe solution for people living in the most vulnerable of circumstances – water is an investment worth making.

Sunrise Cambodia works with rural villages around the country to assess their needs and work out how they can be met. But we can’t do it without our supporters. Every dollar you donate makes a life time of difference to real people.

Click here so Cambodian families never face that impossible choice again and leave them with one choice only: clean, safe water, every day.


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