Safe Drinking Water, Healthy Communities

A PSI/Cambodia inter-personal communication (IPC) agent holds up a card depicting a glass of clear water and asks the participants if they know whether this water is safe to drink. The participants, about 20 community members, answer in unison, “yes”. A man sitting at the front speaks up candidly, “if you don’t see dirt in the water, it means the water is clean.” The IPC agent holds up another card with a microscope picture of the water. “Clear water, like you get from the river or rain, is not always safe to drink because it can contain bacteria that you can’t see with unaided eyes,” he says.

IPC sessions like this are part of PSI/Cambodia’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project, funded by USAID, which delivers messages about safe drinking water to encourage the adoption of a clean water solution among households in Kampong Speu. PSI’s IPC agents engaged with 35,845 participants in 29,707 households by using creative tools to encourage community members to use safe drinking water options such as O-We branded water and Sawyer water filters.

Among the participants is Lon Lin, a farmer of Tpong District, whose family of five members used to capture rain water for drinking, without any treatment. “We drank rain water that we stored in the jar outside the house, but after learning from the PSI staff that drinking uncooked water run the risks of many diseases, I bought a Sawyer water filter which significantly reduced the time spent on finding wood for cooking water and more time working in our rice field,” Lin said while proudly showing off his newly bought water filter.

Fifty-five year-old Sokheng of Phnom Sruoch District also shares the same sentiment. As a family-loving housewife with ten energetic grandchildren who love to race around the house, she tries to keep them hydrated but supplying them with cooked water seems to be a never-ending task. “I started to use O-We water after attending one of the IPC sessions and my grandchildren have never had diarrhea again,” she said, adding that “all of my neighbors use O-We water, so it’s nice if the suppliers can deliver the water every three days.”

In addition to collaborating closely with the Kampong Speu Department of Rural Development, PSI/Cambodia worked with TS1001, Hydrologic, and Clear Cambodia to provide O-We water, Super Tunsai and Sawyer water filters to support healthy communities in Kampong Speu.