Clear Cambodia is a local Christian NGO chartered and based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We implement water and sanitation projects in partnership with local government offices of rural districts in outlying provinces. Our goal is to provide families in rural communities with access to safe water, sanitation facilities and hygiene education.
Home BioSand Filters Installed
School BioSand Filters Installed
When we measure impact, we use the data collected from government offices, schools, and program recipients. While numbers and statistics are important, we believe the best indicator of success is positive change in the families who receive filters and hygiene education.
Our goal for change is centered around the physical health of the family and the difference that can make in community development. Once a family has access to clean water and begins developing good hygiene habits, they begin to get sick less. Reduced illness in the family means the family can work more and save money by not having to purchase medicine to fight intestinal illnesses. These two factors, when combined with not having to buy bottled water, can make a significant impact on the financial situation of a family.
With clean water and better health families are able to save money and invest it. This improves their situation over time. They purchase more land for farming, start small businesses and invest in their children’s education. All of these are made possible by clean water and good hygiene, which together dramatically reduce illness and loss of economic opportunity in families.
Our goal is to enable communities to make changes that last.
Pheak and his wife Ros Sareth are farmers. They have 4 children, 3 daughters and one son. Two of their daughters are already married but still live with them. Pheak’s has a big family of 11, Mr. Pheak, his wife, 3 daughters, 1 son, 2 sons in law, and 3 grandsons.
Pheak described to CC’s staff that, before filter they invested in a filter, his family used well water for drinking, cooking and other water needs. The well water was full of crystalline, iron, and dirt. The well was supported by UNICEF in 1998 and located around 17 meters from his home. His family has used the water from that well for 18 years. His wife often got sick from typhoid fever and stomach problems. Every time, he brought his wife to see the doctor, he spent around $32.5. That happened for 3 to 4 times a year for 8 years over that time he spent around $1,000 in total to get treatment for his wife at Svay Rieng public hospital. UNICEF heard about the negative impact of the well water and sent staff members take water samples for testing. The results showed that, the water was contaminated with pathogens that caused typhoid fever and diarrhea. After the tests, they were advised not to use that well any more. Pheak also thought of not using the water from that well but he and his family’s members had no choice because they did not have any other water source available.
In 2011, he joined CC’s promotion meeting and posed questions related to how the filter’s work and to what type of pathogens the eliminate. He learned that the BioSand filter could get rid of bacteria, viruses and other water born diseases that were contaminating the water. He decided to request and to build a BioSand filter. The family has continued to use water from the well which made them sick before. After using the filtered well water for 4 to 6 months, he firstly noticed that his wife had been sick less. Due to spending less on medication, he was able to save some money to build a latrine for around $500 and to purchase some other necessary things for the family. He understood the advantage of using a BioSand filter because through it, his family’s health condition improved and they have been healthy for 4 years now.
Mr. Eng Sara and his wife Mrs. Kes Phuon have one daughter, who is married and has 2 sons. They all live together with Mr. Sara. The family uses well water and rain water for their daily water needs. Before they received a filter they used well water for cooking and washing clothes and rain water for drinking because believed that rain water is clean. The family members were frequently ill with typhoid, especially Mr. Sara himself. Sara said when he got sick he could not work because he was afraid of relapsing. As he could not work at the farms, he rented his fields to other people to do the farming. The income from renting the fields was not much and not enough to pay back the debts that the family had accumulated or to cover their daily expenses.
The family typically spent around $25 to $30 per month for medical treatment. Sara was very worried because the family’s responsibilities and burdens were on him. He said, “I, now, am very happy after having got a filter from Clear Cambodia. I filter either rain water or well water for my family’s daily water needs. I also regularly bottle the filtered water and take it to the fields when I work. Sara added that after using filtered water, he observed that his family did not get sick as often as before. He could go to work at the commune office and had enough time and energy to do farming.
The best part was he did not need spend money for medical treatment like before and could save some money to buy a small tractor. He then said, “All of my family members and I are healthy and I hope that in the future my family’s living condition will be better.”
Where We Work
Clear Cambodia conducts water projects and hygiene education in six provinces of Cambodia: Kampot, Kampong Cham, Tboung Khmum, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng and Battambang. In most of these 6 provinces, groundwater is easily accessible throughout the year, but the majority of families collect their water from a pond or an unprotected shallow well. This water is often is stagnant and contaminated with fecal waste from humans and livestock.
All of these provinces, especially the districts that Clear Cambodia works in, are agricultural communities. Families often live on their small plot of land and survive on the rice, vegetables and meat they can grow on their farms. Family incomes for rural farmers in these areas are very low and many of these families live at or below the international poverty line.
We source the sand and gravel for our BioSand filter medium from the mountains of Kampong Speu province.
Financials, Reports, and Technical Documents
How We Began
In 1997 I was traveling to inspect projects I was managing for Hagar International, an international NGO working here in Cambodia. As I was meeting families we were serving, I met a woman who had been part of our residential program in Phnom Penh. She had completed our program and returned to her home in the province. When she left our residential program she and her son were healthy and thriving.
As soon as I walked into their home in the province I knew something was wrong. Amy* and her son had changed dramatically, both had lost weight and her son’s stomach was swollen and distended.
In talking to her I began to understand the problem. Amy* told me that they had enough food to eat, their shelter was adequate, they had a supportive community, and they even had enough water to drink. As we talked I asked her what water they were drinking. She pointed to a water jar in the corner of their small home with a scrap of wood covering it.
I removed the wood covering the jar and immediately knew why their health had changed so dramatically. The water in the jar smelled terrible. It was cloudy, brown and there was a slimy film floating on the top. While Amy* and her son had access to an adequate volume of water, the water they had access to was contaminated with bacteria and parasites.
When I returned to Phnom Penh later that week I talked with my director about the threat that lack of clean water posed to the people we were serving. We searched locally for a method to provide clean water but were not able to find an economically viable solution.
It was almost two years later that the director found a solution on a business trip to Canada. While in Canada to meet with a partner organization, he was introduced to BioSand filter technology. When he returned to Cambodia he asked me to begin developing a program to implement this technology for our project sites located in rural areas.
13 years after I first met Amy* and her son, the BioSand filter program had expanded to a point where it no longer fit under the mandate that Hagar International was operating under. In October of 2010, Clear Cambodia was formed as a locally run NGO serving the Cambodian people.
Clear Cambodia now has operations in 6 provinces. Each year Clear Cambodia assists local communities in constructing and installing over 21,000 home BioSand filters, and 90 school BioSand filters.
Amy* – name changed to protect privacy