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1.14 million people living in rural settings in Cambodia still have no access to reliable electricity, which means that sourcing energy to operate mechanical systems can be challenging. Utilising renewable energy is a vital solution and Engineers Without Borders Australia (EWB) alongside the Cambodian Rural Development Team (CRDT) and Aurecon are designing a new water treatment system to provide clean water to the remote Koh Tnout community, utilising solar technology. 

Koh Tnout is an island surrounded by tributaries of the Mekong River and several other islands, and is located in  the Kratie province of Cambodia. Its 802 residents are unable to access the electricity grid, given its remoteness. The communities on Koh Thnot also have challenges accessing safe, clean water. As such, the rehabilitation of the Rural Water Supply is crucial. Clean water is not only used for drinking and cooking; it is also needed to sustain and grow small-scale agricultural pursuits, including rice fields and vegetable crops, and raising chickens, pigs, cows and buffalos.

It’s a project that EWB has been contributing to since 2019, when a group of engineers conducted field visits to the three communities to identify the water supply issues, as part of EWB’s Solutions for Sustainable Development Intensive. Since then, EWB teams in Australia and Cambodia alongside CRDT engaged two Australian Field Professional Volunteers and Aurecon to commence the rehabilitation of these water supply systems. This next phase of the project included upgrading the solar power capacity and pipe network, and adding water treatment plant systems. 

Mariny from the EWB Australia team in Cambodia with the solar-powered water supply system

Mariny from the EWB Australia team in Cambodia with the solar-powered water supply system

Over 3000 metres of pipework has been installed in order to connect 73 households, one community farm, one commune, and one primary school to the clean water supply. Solar technology is used to power a solar water pump as well as the water treatment plant through an off-grid solar photovoltaic and battery system, providing 7.7kW of power supply. This energy now means clean water is accessible for almost half of each day. However, before the rehabilitation of the water supply system, only 10% of the community could access clean water. Now, the entire community has access to clean water for the whole day. The next phase of the project will be integrating the water supply with the local water treatment plant, to improve water quality and also human health.

This program is funded by EWB donors, the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) and the United Nations Development Program, with technical support from EWB Pro Bono Partner, Aurecon.

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