The use of clay pot filters can effectively clean water and reduce the need of heating materials such as gas, wood or charcoal, according to Resource Development International Cambodia.
The organization is trying to disseminate 35,000 of the filters, which can clean water just as effectively as boiling it, said Mickey Sampson, RDIC’s country director, in an interview in Washington. The group hopes to fill clean water needs of 200,000 people, including students at schools, he said.
Water filtration can help Cambodians with a widespread problem that leads to stomach pain, diarrhea and potential death in children, Sampson said.
“My organization is working in many provinces, but I think most of the work is in the schools,” he said. The organization was showing teachers how to use the water filters for use in classrooms and for teachers to sell them in the future, he said.
“It is also to help their neighbors to be able to use the clean water filter at their house,” he said.
Each pot costs 33,000 riel, around $8, and can be paid for in installments, Sampson said. His group is trying to sell the filter pots in 15 provinces and has been particularly successful in Siem Reap and Kandal provinces.
Filtration may even be preferable to well water, which can be poisoned with toxins, including arsenic, Sampson said. He encouraged villagers to check with the Ministry of Rural Development on the safety of their wells or have them tested.
The provinces of Kandal, Prey Veng and Kampong Cham, as well as other provinces along major rivers, have all been found to have a potential arsenic threat, Sampson said.
Minister of Water Resources Lim Kien Hor, applauded the RDIC water filtration pots and agreed that arsenic was of concern in some locations.
“Most of our citizens are using well water,” he said. “As you know, most of the well water along our rivers is contaminated with arsenic. It is seriously toxic.”
The government hopes to pass a water law and to circulate warnings to areas in danger, he said.
One Cambodian woman in Phnom Penh, Chi Yu Mai, said her family has been using the clay pot filter for two years, and her family has never been sick from its water. She has even saved money by using it, she said.
“The use of this clay water filter is providing us a lot benefit,” she said. “One, it does not waste time to boil water. Two, it provides good health for us.”
Meanwhile, RDIC has also set up videos to teach young children to read Khmer, the importance of hand-washing for health and sanitation, and the dangers of HIV and AIDS. More information can be found at www.rdic.org.