Most people are aware of the direct connection between good health and the ability for a person to prosper. In most developing countries, it is as simple as children being able go to school when they are healthy, and parents having enough time and energy to work in the store, the home, or the fields. Water-borne diseases are the greatest health threat in Cambodia’s Siem Reap province.
To that end, Trailblazer Foundation’s Health program primarily focuses on providing clean water to families and villages, and the construction of latrines to help increase a family’s, or village’s, overall hygiene.
In Cambodia, a country of fourteen million people, there are more than nine million cases of diarrheal disease annually, estimated to cost the nation about $448 million a year. One of the easiest ways to combat these diseases is to provide access to clean water. For Trailblazer Foundation, this includes both digging wells to access water, and constructing bio-sand water filters to purify both surface water and well water (the latter of which is cleaner than other sources, but is still not entirely safe to drink).
Next, Trailblazer works with our partner villages to build latrines. Latrines may be Trailblazer Foundation's least glorious project area, yet building latrines is another of our important services - especially when it comes to advancing health in the rural communities where we work.
Clean water and latrines tie Trailblazer Foundation directly into a worldwide health strategy known as WASH. WASH stands for "Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene," a group of interrelated public health issues which are the focus of many international development organizations (especially in many Asian countries, like Cambodia).
WASH programs are widely considered to hold great potential for improving health, life expectancy, student learning, gender equality, and other key benefits in developing countries. For Trailblazer, WASH is a complementary framework to our focus on using water projects to advance sustainable community development as a whole.
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We constructed and delivered 460 water filters, one per family, and ten more than our goal. We conducted trainings for the recipients of these filters, on how to use and maintain the filters, and how to maintain basic hygiene. This included reaching our goal of 34 group trainings, and 460 individual trainings.
Next, we drilled 117 wells, seventeen more than our goal. Each new well owner participated in one of our twelve planned group trainings, where we taught them how to maintain and repair their well.
Also, we constructed fifty-four latrines, four more than we had planned to build. And we conducted eight trainings, for the 54 latrine beneficiary families, on latrine use and sanitation.
Finally, we raised the $20,000 needed to purchase new well drilling equipment (our existing gear was seven years old). In many ways, this was our biggest Health program success in 2017.
In all, these efforts directly benefited 3,155 rural Cambodians (each product going to one family, with an average family of five).