It has been a very busy few months here at RainWater Cambodia. With a small team of dedicated Cambodians managing five different projects scattered throughout the countryside, resources are stretched, but in true Khmer style complaints are few and good-natured and the work gets done, meaning rural Cambodians get to drink clean rainwater throughout the year.
Or in this case, expectant mothers can venture to rural health centres knowing they will have sanitary conditions and plenty of clean water in which to give birth.
RainWater Cambodia has been working on a health centre project for the last 12 months which is due to be completed within the next month. The project was based in Kampong Speu province, only an hour from the capital city but in a very poor area with water access limited and sanitation and hygiene rare commodities for people living here.
Twenty one of the provinces most resource- poor health centres were targeted for an upgrade which involved installing rainwater harvesting systems with 35m3 Ferro-cement tanks, bicycle pumps, header tanks, hand-washing stations and in some cases pour flush latrines. The bicycle pump is used (by the expecting father!) to pump the rainwater from the main tank into a smaller header tank which then gravity feeds the water directly into the building. Rainwater is also piped from the main tank directly to the latrines and outdoor hand-washing stations.
Alongside the infrastructure improvements, RWC , working closely with the health centre staff, local district authorities and village health volunteers to launch a huge WASH campaign where villagers surrounding each health centre were invited to check out the upgraded health centre facilities and pick up a few tips on hygiene and water safety . The campaign was structured to promote the health centres as a ‘model’ for good Water use, sanitation and hygiene practice in the community, and to encourage expectant mothers to make the trip to the nearest one to give birth ….hopefully saving lives as many mothers die from infections each year giving birth in remote rural areas.
With toilets and cunningly placed hand-washing stations positioned to encourage visitors (and the HC staff) to make the link between toilet use and hand-washing, backed up by the WASH open day campaign it is hoped that the visiting villagers take this life saving information back to their villagers and households. The village health volunteers and health centre staff were bombarded by questions throughout the different days and in many cases the villagers themselves were answering each others questions, suggesting that indeed the campaign was working.