World water day was celebrated in Phnom Penh on the 22nd of March with local dignitaries speaking on the importance of safe water in urban and peri urban environments; this years theme. On the same day a huge World sanitaion fund was launched in Cambodia with the aim of improving the toilet and hygiene situation of the rural population over the next five years.
World water day is celebrated around the world to highlight the need for safe water access amongst the worlds poor, this year was the theme was Water in Cities. As the worlds urban population grows, in particular the growth of slums surrounding big cities, the need to provide safe drinking water and sanitation facilities in these areas is becoming increasingly important. In Cambodia the slums are often surrounded by open sewers and with no nearby water supply, and when it floods in the wet season? Knee high raw-sewerage in the houses, rampant typhoid, dysentary etc etc.
The event was held at a local school (see video) which just had a sanitation make over, new toilets, handwashing stations and an innovative underground de-centralised waste water treatment system consisting of several anaerobic and aerobic chambers and gravel filters which removes solids and considerably reduces the BOD, COD, nutrients and viruses in the black water making it safe to discharge into the ....nearby field?? Which floods in the wet season..?
The WSSCC launch of the global sanitation fund in cambodia is great news for villagers in the targeted areas. $5 million dollars is available for sanitation marketing and behavioral change programs over the next five years. RWC currently has a project working with local community councils in Prey Veng province which aims to help them find ways to eliminate open defication and its concomitant risks in the community. So with this fund hopefulle we can conitnue to work with these communities as behavior change does not happen overnight and the aim is to work with communities for long periods.