Hygiene for health in Cambodian schools

28th March 2017

Reece Grant recipients and father-daughter duo Ian and Lauren Stevens have arrived in Cambodia with their not-for-profit organisation, Community Generation, to commence work on their project at the local primary school in Kompong Speu.

Lack of water and sanitation is one of the biggest issues affecting the health of children across Cambodia (Unicef). 80% of Cambodia’s population live in rural areas, many in extreme poverty. Over 1000 children die each year from preventable diarrhoeal diseases caused by dirty water sources.

After a fact-finding research trip in 2016, the Stevens duo has returned to the community they found to be most in need of sanitary help. The primary school where the work is taking place only has two toilets shared between the 462 students on site, and one additional unit for teachers. The toilets are in various states of disrepair and often do not have doors.

In addition to building a new toilet block, Ian, a plumber by trade, is working with Community Generation’s plumbers and masons to build a BioSand Filter, which will provide clean water to service the school and wider community.

Designed by Community Generation, the BioSand Filter is a three-tank system comprising a holding tank, the filter tank and a 1500 litre clean water storage tank. It operates by filtering water through layers of gravel and sand and a naturally formed biological layer that helps to filter contaminants. The water from the local pond and well is fed through this system and then pumped into the storage tank as clean, drinkable water.

Construction of the filter system is underway, in conjunction with rehabilitation of surrounding waterways including new pipes and a submersible pump.

“The brickies are busy,” says Ian. “Pipes are already roughed in and the team is digging away on the septic tanks.”

Part of the work conducted by Community Generation also focuses on training and education. Alongside construction of their prototype BioSand Filter, training programs have commenced in the schools for both teachers and students.

“The training program ensures the teachers are well equipped and trained to deliver our Health Program to their students,” Lauren explains.

This hygiene and sanitation education is then passed on to the students as part of their ongoing curriculum.

“It was exciting this week to watch the school have their first sanitation and hygiene lessons in each classroom, which now run daily!” Lauren tells us. “The kids are so enthusiastic and are currently learning how to wash their hands with the soaps, towels and clean water.”

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