Kampot now boasts a stable supply of clean water thanks to the support of Japan’s Official Development Assistance, which has helped to upgrade infrastructure in the area.
Kampot town’s water woes are no more thanks to Japan building much-needed infrastructure to supply safe, clean water to local residents.
As part of a grant to Cambodia, the Japanese government implemented the upgrading project to expand the water supply system in Kampot from July 2015 to August 2018.
The province’s water purification plant and water distribution networks built in 1950s had been destroyed by decades of civil conflict.
NGOs and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) stepped in to reconstruct and rehabilitate damaged water infrastructure in Kampot, but despite these efforts, water scarcity was still a pressing issue due to the insufficient capacity of the purification plant, a lack of proper water distribution networks and ageing pipes.
With the Kampot Water Treatment Plant built with ADB assistance supplying 6,000 cubic metres per day, the total water supply capacity of Kampot was enhanced to 13,500 cubic metres daily with the construction of the Ou Toch Water Treatment Plant in 2018 with a Japanese grant.
“Last year, we supplied water to 34 villages in 11 communes across the town, and this year we have expanded to 41 villages in 12 communes.
“And we are expecting to supply up to 18,500 cubic metres of water per day by increasing the current capacity to 5,000 cubic metres per day.
“By January 2021, the supply rate was 76.14 per cent, and we are striving to achieve 100 per cent capacity in the future.
“Kampot is rich in nature and has many water resources, but groundwater cannot be used due to the proximity of seawater,” Kampot Water Works director Ty Kean said.
With the town located close to the sea, salty water not suitable for drinking meant residents could not rely on ground wells.
“Many households used to use rainwater, and water from rivers and ponds. A lack of equipment and funds meant the water supply authority was not able to supply enough water. So I am really thankful that the supply has doubled with the Japanese grant,” Kean said.
The Ou Toch Water Treatment Plant has brought about profound changes to the lives of people once deprived of a supply of clean water.
The wait for water is over now, with residents’ standard of living drastically improved as they now enjoy a steady supply of safe water piped to their homes.
Vendor Meng Chantu from Snam Pram Village can vouch as to how the Japanese-funded project has brought peace of mind to her family and her neighbours.
“I used to buy water, but we had hygiene issues because it was contaminated with leaves, wood and trash, and it was difficult to even get water during the dry season.
“In 2018, I requested a clean water supply system to be installed in my house, in the kitchen and bathroom. I now have a regular supply of clean water and my life is so much better.
“I am currently growing fruits such as bananas and dragon fruit with the water supply. I am deeply grateful for the clean water supply,” she said.
Sir Les and Hva Mom, a couple from Tvy Kang Chung Village who make a living from fishing, said the clean water supply has also improved sanitation.
“In the past, we had to travel long distances to buy water, and some days we could not afford it due to a lack of money. My son-in-law is a construction worker, and he found it hard to wash cement from his body without adequate water and developed skin rashes.
“After the clean water was supplied in 2018, he is able to wash himself properly and the dermatitis has disappeared. It is great to have access to clean water all the time,” said Les.
Head of the nursing department at Kampong Kreng Health Centre Sovann Kanneka said the project has also led to a decrease in health risks.
While the centre has received clean water supply since 2014, residents of a village some 13km away had been deprived of it until 2018, when the project was completed.
“Due to issues such as the collection of rainwater leading to water sitting around for some time, many people suffered from mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever and malaria. But the number of patients with these diseases has decreased since 2018.
“Also, some of the water they purchased before was not suitable because of a strong pesticide smell, while it was sometimes milky in colour. With the improved water supply, their lives are now much easier and they feel much safer,” Kanneka said.
A reliable supply of safe, clean water has brought important benefits to people who had been vulnerable to health risks and prolonged drought.
The residents of Kampot town are now able to enjoy increased living standards and greater peace of mind thanks to the water supply system.