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In Cambodia, 6.3 million people still have no access to safe drinking water (UNICEF, 2014). Although progress has been made towards reaching the Millenium Development Goals (in 2013, 57% of households were reported as having access to an improved water source [Cambodia Inter-Censal Population Survey]), these achievements mask a relatively unequal progress between urban and rural settings. Only 23% of rural households actually benefit from a safe source of drinking water due to the challenges of maintenance, last-mile distribution and recontamination during transportation and storage. In fact, 90% of poor households in Cambodia live in rural areas and 72% of the population lives on less than $3 a day. These communities often struggle with fatal instances of diarrhea among children, which could be preventable if water access were improved. The people most at-risk include farmers, fishermen, landless people, as well as women and children in the village. These families currently live on $60-80 per month and are the target beneficiaries of 1001fontaines’ efforts.
1001fontaines’ innovative development strategy enables rural populations to produce safe drinking water themselves through the creation of social micro-enterprises. Small water kiosks are set up and entrusted to local entrepreneurs, who are hired and trained by in-country partners. Water is produced locally using a low-cost technology (microfiltration and UV treatment powered by solar energy). It is then bottled in 20L containers and sold at an affordable price to villagers (~$0,013/L) and provided free of charge to children at school. The water bottles are delivered at home, guaranteeing distribution to the intended end-users. The empty bottles are then collected by the entrepreneurs, cleaned, and refilled, thus minimizing waste.
In setting up the water kiosks, 1001fontaines:
This project will establish a self-sustaining water kiosk within a rural community in Cambodia. The budget includes all costs including construction of the kiosk as well as training and support to a local entrepreneur (including salary) until the break-even point is reached, which usually takes approximately 18 months.
After the costs of the project are met, 1001fontaines withdraws fully and enables the trained community member to operate the kiosk autonomously, as a self-sustained local social enterprise. Impact studies of past water kiosk projects by 1001fontaines have shown them to significantly improve the health and livelihood of the surrounding community.