TABITHA CAMBODIA WATER PROGRAM
The Tabitha WATER program runs in parallel with the “Community Development through Savings” program. This program enables families to have access to clean, potable water and to raise a family’s income significantly. Before a family receives a source of water they must be in the savings program. Without a distinct change in attitude and the development of a dream, wells will not impact a family’s development.
Water Security in Cambodia
In the absence of safe wells, drinking water is sometimes taken from open ponds or rivers which are commonly polluted with excreta or chemicals. Villagers (and most importantly children) often develop dysentery.
The average distance to walk to a safe water source is 3 kilometers. This means that several members of the family are required to wake at 4 in the morning, walk to the water source and then wait their turn for water – usually 3 to 4 hours. This precludes a number of children from attending school.
Since a person is only able to carry several containers of water at a time, it means that family members often develop skin rashes, their hair becomes stiff and dull and eyes are infected with dirt related causes because of their inability to wash on a daily basis.
Water Sources and an Increase in Income
Without a sustainable source of clean water near their homes, families are restricted in their ability to increase their incomes. Animal husbandry or growing crops is impossible without an ongoing source of water available.
Crops (mainly rice) are grown during the wet season. However, because rainfall tends to be erratic–wet season crops may fail because of inadequate sources of water – wells provide that water.
During the long dry season no crops will grow unless a reliable source of water is secured. Wells and ponds provide that security. Families with wells or ponds grow “6-week’ vegetables, including “morning glory”, peas, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. throughout the dry season as well as summer rice. Animal husbandry, the raising of pig, chickens, ducks are an integral part of income generation from wells. Their productive growth seasons expand from 6 months to an average of 11 months per year thereby tripling a family’s consumable income as well as providing food security.
TYPES of Water Sources
Tabitha constructs three main types of wells in Cambodia:
1) Family wells:
Two main varieties of family wells are used; the decision on which type will be used in an area depends on the type and quality of water available.
a) Tube Wells
A machine drills a pipe to reach the aquifer – usually 50-60 metres down. A hand pump is placed at the top of the pipe allowing water to be pumped to the surface. A cement apron is placed around the well.
Tube wells are used whenever possible - that is, when good quality water can be found in deeper aquifers. They supply at least five families (40 people)
b) Open Wells
The families dig a hole about 10-15 metres deep. Cement rings are then used to keep the well open and rise more than 1 metre from the ground. Tops are placed over the well to prevent pollution and villagers are taught about correct sanitary well maintenance. The cost includes a 1 meter cement skirt.
Open wells are used when deeper water is brackish or polluted, preventing the use of tube wells. They supply at least five families (40 people)
2) Field wells:
These wells are constructed in the fields where crops are irrigated and/or livestock maintained.
As with tube wells, a machine drills 2 bore holes down into the aquifer; and 2 plastic pipes to the surface are installed allowing water to be pumped to the surface.
Families then either save for a petrol-powered pump or rent a pump from a villager who has one.
Field wells allow 2-4 hectares of land to produce crops all year, dramatically increasing the reliability of food supplies
for poor families.A field well can look like a regular family well - tube well or an open family well - but they differ in the depth of the well. They make it double purpose especially if they live near the fields.
These are about 10 X 7 metres and about 3-4 metres deep. They supply several families with water for household use as well as water to irrigate an average of 2 hectares of land to grow crops and/or raise fish.
Impact of water:
The impact of a secure water source for Tabitha families is immense. All families are required to earn a steady source of income through their source of water. This enables families to rapidly increase their incomes from an average of .50 cents per day to an average of $5000-$6000 USD per year. This spendable income enables families to pay off debts, to further increase their incomes with additional sources of income, to rebuilding their homes, to putting their children in schools.
For Families who
Income is derived from animal husbandry
For Families whose land
In addition to animal husbandry, vegetables
For Families who own
In addition to animal husbandry, kitchen gardens– rice and vegetables are grown year round.