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Impact Matters: Water is Growing Incomes

In Cambodia, Lifewater’s impact reaches far beyond water, health, and hygiene.

Living in the United States where there is running water can make it easy to forget the privilege of abundant water and sanitation facilities. Thirsty? There’s bound to be a faucet in the building. Got to go? A quick walk down the hall and there lives a shiny porcelain toilet and a sink and soap. But in places like Cambodia, where 80 percent of the population live in rural areas, clean water and a latrine can be elusive. In 2008, the cost of poor sanitation in Cambodia was equivalent to more than 7 percent of its GDP.

The lack of access to water, sanitation, and hygiene causes diseases with symptoms like diarrhea, skin infections, and vomiting. These medical conditions cause poor families to spend most of their income on health care. Mother of two, 29 year-old Un Saly, said that each year her medical expenses increase; this is true for other members of her community as well. Her dreams for her family are not extravagant, but without safe water and sanitation, they would remain out of reach:

“I want to save money to support my family, for my children go to school and for food, clothes, and to increase the economic status of my family.”

Today, Un Saly and her community find hope in that hard place. Lifewater international has been invited to work in partnership with Cambodia Hope Organization (CHO) to increase the standard of living for rural communities in Cambodia. After months of intensive collaboration, training, planning, and design work, individuals in these communities are already starting to see results. Un Saly shared:

“Now CHO is working in my community, and my community and I are excited because the staff in our village teach us about WASH: making water safe, basic hygiene, and keeping safe water. It is very special that CHO provided a loan to build latrines for my community and other villages. I want to use the latrine for my family: when I have a toilet in my home, our family can reduce the time we spend in the hospital. Thanks to Lifewater for praying and supporting CHO for latrine loans in communities in Cambodia. God bless CHO and Lifewater.”

Un Saly’s family, freed from constant illness, is taking its first steps in a journey out of extreme poverty, through education and productive labor, and into a fuller life.

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