Although Cambodia is blessed with an abundant water table containing clean, potable water, much of its population is too poor to afford the construction of a water well. The environment exacerbates poverty, as Cambodians endure annual cycles of flood and drought. With the help of donors like you, Tabitha is slowly changing this situation.
The average distance to walk to a safe water source is 3 kilometers, requiring a member of the family to wake at 4AM to walk to the water source then wait their turn for water – usually 3 to 4 hours. Children, who normally spend their day fetching water from a community well, now can go to school.
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 often develop dysentery. Since a person is only able to carry several containers of water at a time, they do not wash on a daily basis causing skin rashes, their hair to become stiff and eyes become infected. Tabitha wells improve the health of Cambodians by decreasing the incidence of diarrhea and improving infant mortality rates.
Without a sustainable source of clean water near their homes, families are restricted in their ability to increase their incomes. Their productive growing season can expand from 6 months to an average of 11 months per year. This can triple a family’s consumable income as well as provide food security for themselves
Before a family receives a well, they must be in the Tabitha Family Savings program. Without a distinct change in attitude and the development of a dream, wells will not impact a family’s development. Families in the Tabitha Savings Program save for a well. It usually takes the three families about 6-8 months on average to save their $20 – some faster – some longer.
Skilled local well drillers are contracted in each of our project areas. There is a 6 month complete warranty on all wells and parts are easily replaced locally. Families are trained in maintenance and upkeep.
It takes about 2 weeks for the complete drilling, hand pump installation, and setting the 1 metre cement skirt. Pumps come with an extra spigot to allow for a diesel pump to be added for irrigation.
1. FAMILY WELLS Cost: $200
Family wells are constructed near the family’s homes and are used for household water supplies, kitchen gardens and animal husbandry. 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 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. The cost includes the well, hand pump and a 1 metre cement skirt.
The families dig a hole about 10-15 metres deep. Cement pipes 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. Open wells are used when deeper water is brackish or polluted, preventing the use of tube wells. They supply at least 5 families ( 40 people).
2. FIELD WELLS Cost: $300
Field wells are constructed in the fields where crops are grown; sometimes well away from the family’s home. Each well typically supplies two families with enough irrigation water to grow crops year round- an average of 4 hectares of land. As with tube wells, a machine drills down into the aquifer and a plastic pipe to the surface is 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.
3. FIELD PONDS Cost: $400
Family field ponds are used in areas where the water table is dispersed. In these areas water seeps up through the soil, providing a constant source of fresh water. Family field ponds fill by seepage from the water table and provide household water and water for irrigation – on average – 2-4 hectares of land.
These are about 10 X 7 metres and about 3-4 metres deep. They supply several families with drinking and some irrigation water.
How do families apply for a well:
Families in the Tabitha Savings Program save for a well. It usually takes the three families about 6-8 months on average to save their $20.00 – some faster – some longer.