What we do
In Cambodia, inadequate water supply is a daily reality for millions of rural residents. According to WHO (2011), more than 6 million rural Cambodians do not have access to an affordable source of treated water leading to a high prevalence of water borne diseases.
Rural populations rely on solutions available locally such as untreated surface water (ponds, rivers) with its associated risks of bacterial diseases or groundwater (wells).
Between 1999 and 2000, the presence of natural arsenic was confirmed in Cambodian groundwater (Cambodia Drinking Water Quality Assessment conducted jointly by the Ministry of Rural Development and the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy). According to a report published by UNICEF in 2009, 2.25 million people are estimated to live within arsenic affected areas.
Cambodian NGOs and institutions therefore face a significant challenge with one the one hand a high reliance of rural populations on untreated surface water and on the other hand a significant contamination of shallow ground-waters with arsenic and the associated risks of arsenicosis and cancer.
Tuek Saat 1001’s approach: provide a high quality service to rural communities. Our mission is to improve the health of rural communities in rural Cambodia by establishing and supporting sustainable social enterprises, which produce and distribute safe-drinking water locally within their villages and guarantee the quality of the water. Inspired by the idea that “we drink 90% of our diseases” as Louis Pasteur used to say, we believe that focusing on drinking water (1.50L /day /person) can significantly improve people’s health and complement standard water and sanitation infrastructure approaches.
Teuk Saat 1001 is active in Cambodia since 2007, where all projects are implemented and managed by Mr. Chay Lo, also a co-founder of 1001 fontaines, the main NGO in France.
The initiative relies on 3 key principles:
- QUALITY: The system purifies water that is available locally (mainly surface water) with very light infrastructure. The purified water is delivered to the beneficiaries’ homes in 20L bottles, which are disinfected and sealed, thereby guaranteeing water quality at the point of consumption. A rigorous treatment process ensures water quality according to international standards. Monthly controls are performed in the NGO laboratory and twice a year at the Ministry of industry, mines and energy.
- ACCESSIBILITY: This starts by providing water at an affordable price for the poor (1,200 riels for 20L) in addition to social marketing actions to foster changes in behavior related to water and hygiene. Safe water is produced in the village, for the sole benefit of the village. By using water available locally, as well as a simple technology (UV disinfection) relying on solar energy, and by limiting transportation, production costs remain very low.
- SUSTAINABILITY: The business model consists of entrusting local villagers to operate the water treatment units, and training them so they can build entrepreneurial capacities. Once a production site is operational, water sales provide enough revenues to cover all field expenses, including operators' income, maintenance costs, and shared services costs. This ensures that each village is self-sufficient and that the solution is durable. Operational sustainability is comforted by the local support team (“platform”), which provides assistance to the operators for maintenance, spare parts supply and water quality control, and receives in exchange monthly fees from each site, according to a micro-franchise approach.