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Tackling a major issue – water quality – Klyti is working with a Cambodian not-for-profit organization, RainWater

Cambodia, to determine the most effective rainwater harvesting and education programs that improve conditions for local communities.

Coordinated by Engineers Without Borders (EWB), the project is part of the Undergraduate Research Program, an initiative that connects local students and universities to partner organisations in developing countries. These research projects aim to apply technology to improve quality of life in disadvantaged areas.

One such area is rural Cambodia. With groundwater often being contaminated with Arsenic and hard to access and

 surface waters also being of poor quality rainwater harvesting can be a good source of clean drinking water for rural Cambodian residents.  Although this practice has existed for generations, traditional methods do not satisfy the demand for fresh water, nor do they safe guard against contamination.

RainWater Cambodia is a not for profit organisation that promotes risk-managed, safe methods of rainwater harvesting systems and works to increase local awareness of sanitation and hygiene in rural areas.  In partnership with EWB, RainWater Cambodia have implemented a range of projects including the installation of new rainwater harvesting systems and hand washing facilities in local schools, health centers and households.  A big part of their work is training interested private entrepreneurs in building cheap flushing and dry pit toilets and installing safe rainwater harvesting

 systems in communities.  Also RWC works in educating the beneficiaries and the broader community through the formation of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene committees and village health volunteers.

“I feel the work RainWater Cambodia has been conducting over the past six years is highly valuable, and I hope through my work to be able to assist them. The rural Cambodian communities are the beneficiaries of these project, and potentially have a lot to gain,” Klyti said.

But to date they have had no formal method by which to understand how, and if, their work beneficially impacts the health and safety of the rural Cambodian community’s in which they’ve worked. Klyti’s research hopes to resolve this issue.

Working closely with RainWater Cambodia, and EWB’s in-field volunteer, James Oakley; Klyti’s research aims to

 develop an evaluative framework by which RainWater Cambodia will able to understand the impacts of their work on a social, economical, health and environmental level.  “While it’s intuitive that clean drinking water will have a positive impact on peoples lives, just how much we don’t know,” says James.  “Also to know the level of behaviour change within the communities and the success of the local entrepreneurs in generating and fulfilling demand for the hardware is vital to us what Klyti is proposing to do will be great for RWC!”

EWB’s Curriculum and Research Coordinator, Julian O’Shea, says, “It’s great to see students like Klyti help tackle

 these great global challenges. Engineering has a critical role in play in im

proving conditions in developing communities, and projects that address issues such as water quality are key.”

Klyti will be heading to Cambodia to undertake field research later in the year. “I find it so exciting to be conducting research in order to help disadvantaged communities”, she said.

For more information contact EWB’s Curriculum and Research Coordinator, Julian O’Shea on j.oshea@ewb.org.au