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Empowering Pursat: Addressing Environmental Challenges through Sustainable WASH Initiatives

Cambodia grapples with the harsh realities of climate change, and Pursat province stands as a testament to the environmental challenges faced by many in the region. Floods, droughts, high water tables, and clay soil pose significant threats, leaving households in Pursat vulnerable to water-borne diseases and sanitation-related issues.

Acknowledging this pressing need, the East Meets West Foundation (EMWF) has embarked on a mission to foster positive change in Pursat's communities. With a focus on Output-Based Aid (OBA) for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), EMWF collaborates with national and sub-national governments, as well as local authorities, to bring about a universal approach that extends to rural and remote areas.

More than 70% of the targeted villages lack access to safe drinking water, relying on surface water and private shallow wells. Recognizing this disparity, EMWF, in collaboration with the Ministry of Rural Development, addresses the sanitation gap through innovative proposals for latrine construction and upgrading.

In Pursat, where 5.48% lack sanitation facilities and 10% of existing latrines require upgrading, EMWF adopts a dual strategy. The foundation works with local contractors and masons trained in installing bio-sand filters and constructing or upgrading latrines. These eco-friendly household latrines not only address the critical issue of sanitation but also incorporate designs that facilitate liquid drainage, minimizing environmental impact.

Crucially, EMWF ensures community involvement and empowerment throughout the process. Women and children's community committees, operating in every Cambodian village at the sub-national level, play a pivotal role. These committees not only advise commune councils on budgeting for the needs of children and families but also actively engage in behavior change education within households.

Tailoring content to meet the specific needs and interests of women in the households, EMWF creates a sustainable impact. The project's longevity is guaranteed through the implementation of unique latrine and bio-sand filter models, boasting zero maintenance costs. These strategic designs not only benefit families living below the poverty line but also serve as inspirational models for future water supply and sanitation projects at the community and district levels.

The project was suppoerted within the framework of Small Scale Projects 2023 financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affair CZ.