Missed school days often caused by drinking contaminated pond water
Khnar Chour is a rural village located in the western part of Siem Reap Province. The village is situated in a rural area about 65 kilometers from the provincial town. Over 85 percent of the community depends on local resources to maintain their livelihoods such rice cropping, fishing, and selling forestry products, while some migrate to work as laborers in the city and in the neighboring countries. Without clean drinking water and having poor local health services in the area, day-to-day life is difficult. Many families are not satisfied with the existing infrastructures in the area as many challenges are still faced such as drought, water sources drying up, pollution caused by agricultural waste, and having to walk long distances to collect water for daily consumption. The primary school in the village is faced with the lack of clean water. The borehole and pond at the school are the only water sources used for multi-purposes such latrines, gardening and drinking. The school has no water treatment facility.
Phalla is a 57-year-old widow who cares for her five children at home because her husband passed away from a mining accident 13 years ago in the nearby the village. Phalla’s house is small and built a bit far away from the village pond. In the early morning, she walks with two buckets to collect water from the pond to fill her water jar in her house. She explains, “Water is my first priority, even more than electricity. My children often drink water from the pond directly and we have abdominal pain frequently. I know the importance of clean water, but here we have no choice. We still hope and long for clean water to be piped into our village because this will make our living better.”
Loeung Channy, the fourth-grade teacher at Khnar Chour Primary School explains the poor water conditions that she and her students experience and their challenges with health, “A few days ago, three students from my class suffered from diarrhea and typhoid and they missed their class. Most of our students are from poor families in the village -their sickness has impacted their school attendance and adds to their family’s expenses for medical care. The school always raises awareness about hygiene, but it is difficult to care for them when they are not in the classroom.”
Purchasing bottled water is a significant burden on family resources and is not a sustainable solution.Long Sreilin explains, "I have two brothers and two sisters and I walk with my friends to school and stop to buy bottled water in the village shop. I hope one day our school will have clean water to drink so I will save my money and we will have enough water to drink and take back home.”