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Value of Water Filter – Women’s Perspective

Hang Kosuan Village, Stung Treng _ For most people, the 80-liter plastic container and a clay water filter are probably the last things they consider as quality household items. But for many poor women, these simple, no-nonsense things give them a freedom they have never experienced before.

The items, distributed by Oxfam as part of its Typhoon Ketsana emergency response, save them a lot of time and energy from gathering firewood and boiling water with the container’s size twice as much as the clay jar commonly used in the rural area and the filter’s proven effectiveness.

For mother of eight like Khay Chan Thon, 48, whose children take turn suffering from diseases such as dengue fever, malaria, and typhoid, seeing her kids make a speedy recovery without complications like diarrhea was also a huge relief.

Khay and her daughters were responsible for carrying and boiling the water as the men needed to sleep after fishing all night. “It used to take us almost two hours or four trips or more to get enough water because we’re a big family. The filter also saved our time from collecting firewood.”

Malay Chan Thon

Malay Chan Thon, 19, was cutting up the fish in preparation to sell them to the market.

An Oxfam assessment has found that the villagers usually gathered firewood twice a week spending 1-4 hours for each trip as the location was about 1-3 kilometers away from the village.

As for water collection, the village is 500 meters from the river. The women usually spent between 1-2 hours doing the task a day depending on the distance and needs. The water was only for consumption and household use as bathing and washing is done in the river.

With more time and stronger body _ two invaluable things when you are poor with many children _ Khay and her husband has found that they has lower medical expenses and could go fishing longer to offset the lost income from declining fish stock.

In the old days when the family used to get as much as 10kg of fish, they simply sold the catch as it was for 4,000 – 5,000 Riel ($1 – $1.25) per kilo. “But now we have to wash and cut the heads and tails to get better price which is two times higher for only 3-4 kg because the fish stock has declined recently,” Khay said.

Her daughter Malay Chan Thon, 19, said she used her free time to do the cutting while her mother was repairing the net. “I like it that we don’t have to bring water everyday. It’s also good to not be sick or tired all the time,” the smiley teenage girl said while preparing the fish.

Thoeng Pan, 38, agreed. Although she has not used the filter since the distribution in April for fear the children would break it, Thoeng said the container has already allowed her to take better care of her 12 children and helped her husband go fishing.

“I used to carry the water four times everyday to get enough water for everyone. Now we don’t have to go everyday and the water has longer time to settle,” she noted. In order to cater to everyone’s needs, Thoeng spent about two hours altogether each day for this.

The two families were among those affected by the typhoon which had flooded the areas for over a month. Along with the damages to farmlands, basic infrastructure, and houses, the typhoon also worsened the common problem in rural Cambodia _ lack of access to sanitation facilities and drinkable water.

During the Ketsana-induced flood, Thoeng’s family had to stay at Khay’s house as her hut was only 50cm above the ground while the water level was 60 -70cm high. “It was a very difficult time. The water was everywhere. Since we got water from the river, we didn’t go far and just took it under our house. Luckily, the forest wasn’t flooded so at least we could boil the water.”

During the period, villagers used the boats to go around and defecated in the river while women and children used the backyards at night for security concern. Such a behavior is not uncommon in this area where rivers and ponds are the only source of water.

Asked if she would use the filter soon, Thoeng said she wanted to but was afraid of losing it as she couldn’t afford to buy a new one.

With income of a mere 5,000 – 6,000 Riel ($1.25 – $1.5) for each time, the family could not buy anything more than rice and seasonings, leave alone fishing net. Instead they use harpoons and do labor work to make ends meet, she said.

Oxfam has so far distributed 470 water filters to 470 families to curb the spread of diarrhoea and other waterborne diseases. With almost half of the 3,000 people having benefited from this being women, the distribution has become not only a symbol of good health, but also freedom.

The women said they appreciated the items as they have eased their daily grind and given them more freedom. “Honestly, we’d like to get one more container so we will have one more day free,” Malay told us.

Uamdao Noikorn, Regional Media Coordinator, and Im Solinda, Logistics Officer.

  1. 5 Responses to “Value of Water Filter – Women’s Perspective”

  2. By sonika dewakar on Oct 15, 2014

    nice article is on womens these article shows that there are many womens in this world who are brave.

  3. By Josephine Bernie on Nov 12, 2014

    Water is essential for health, hygiene and the productivity of our community. water treatment process may vary on the water condition that you have in your area. its better to invest on a good water treatment. it will benefit you by providing safety to you and your family.

  4. By parveen arora on Apr 21, 2015

    Main thing is importance of water filter in our life as per my opinion water filter and purifiers is very important thing of our daily life that helps to make safe water for our healthy life. Now, the question arises how to choose best water purifier when there are thousands of water filter brands available in market and all of them assure Purified/Safe Water.

  5. By parveen kumar on Apr 24, 2015

    Nice article for our health because water is very important things for our body and main things is purify water is very important . water purifier is important

  6. By Shoba on Jul 13, 2015

    I am really impressed with your article and appreciate your efforts. It seems you have done deep research on water filter. Purifiers is very important thing of our daily life that helps to make safe water for our healthy life, At my home i use Pureit Water Purifier , i am happy and satisfied with this product.Good water filter assure you good health for you and your family.

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