Chun Ni

By Glenn Fawcett, Executive Director

According to the most recent data from UNICEF, approximately 22%1 of the total population in Cambodia lack access to safe water. With approximately 80 per cent of Cambodians living in rural areas, poor access to safe water and sanitation disproportionately affects its rural communities

In the beginning of June, we travelled from Phnom Penh to Kampot to visit six completed Pump Wells established in 2 communes, Doun Yay, and Kraing Sbouv of Chhuk District, Kampot province. At least 102 households are now benefitting from the Wells, consisting of 316 (149 women) people including 122 (65 girls) children under 18 years, as well as 7 persons with disabilities, 4 of those being female. June is the beginning of the wet season and the wells were completed during the month of April. All the 6 wells gave up water at a depth of around 47 to 50 metres (164feet) and provide between 2 and 3 cubic metres of clean, potable water per hour. Lotus Outreach has now implemented 74 pump wells that are changing lives for more than 10,000 village Cambodians across several provinces of Cambodia We asked some of the villagers we met at the site of the new well to tell us what it means to them to have fresh water nearby and some of the stories were simply amazing.

33 years old Chun Ni has been carting water on her shoulders nearly two miles, twice a day, one in the morning and once in the afternoon for 13 years! And tells us, “I was 20 when I first starting carting it when my parents were too old to cart water after which the job fell to me.”

We asked her what she felt about having access to clean water right at her doorstep. A huge grin and sheer delight on her face told us everything as she brought her hands together with a huge thank you!! Chun Ni has two small children in grades 2 and 4. Earlier water had to be conserved as it was simply too precious to use for anything but fundamental needs. Now with fresh water at hand Chun Ni and her children will now enjoy a clean bath and a fresh smelling change of clothes everyday!!

There were plenty more stories to come. One woman from the same village had been carting water since the time of the Khmer Rouge in 1979! Another 69-year-old woman had been carting water for great distances since she was 15! A life like theirs is simply unimaginable for those like us that have always had a house full of taps providing access to water 24×7 and as certain as that is the fact the lives of several hundreds of villagers that now have access to clean water close to home have changed dramatically, for the better.