DEY UT, CAMBODIA: RAINWATER CATCHMENT SYSTEM
The community of Dey Ut, near Prek Eng in Kandal province, was faced with enormous challenges. Cambodia is the poorest country in Asia, where the majority live on less than one dollar per day. In addition to high child mortality, lack of adequate health care, chronic undernutrition, and debilitating, near universal poverty, this peri-urban and rural area outside Phnom Penh had no reliable source of clean drinking water or sewerage. The surface water sources were microbiologically unsafe, and the well water had high levels of naturally occurring arsenic, regularly over 500 ppb and occasionally as high as 2000 ppb (10 ppb is considered ‘safe’, according to the WHO). Many large-scale well drilling programs in Cambodia throughout the 1980s and 1990s encouraged the widespread use of well water, before testing revealed areas of high As concentrations. Since then, Cambodia has confirmed its first cases of arsenicosis. Our team’s mission was to design and implement a rainwater catchment system at the primary school in Dey Ut, together with our community partners and with a local NGO. The system provided drinking water to the 1200 children at the school whose only alternative is an arsenic contaminated well with concentrations above 500 ppb.