Improved access to decent toilets and clean water for persons with disabilities

2 min read
Soban standing next to his piped water connection
Image: WaterAid/Sun Kimsan

The smiley gentlemen above is Soban. He is 62 years old and lives in a rural community in Cambodia with his wife and two of his six children.

Just over 20 years ago, Soban developed an eye problem that caused him to become partially blind. On top of that, he was involved in a traffic accident a few years ago permanently and severely injuring his left leg. Soban now relies on the help of his children to move throughout the day, while his wife Phouerng, 66, earns extra income for the family as a community labourer.

In the past, Soban travelled long distances by motorcycle to collect water from a lake or pond. He was only able to transport 30 litres at a time. During the dry season, the water level of the pond was much lower, making it even more difficult for him to fetch water with his disabilities. Soban and his family didn’t boil or use a filter before drinking the water. His family was frequently sick, but they weren’t sure why.

I never knew that drinking unsafe waters affect my health because it’s our normal for us.”

Soban’s family had also never had a toilet of their own. Instead, they were forced to defecate in the nearby forest or in a field. While open defecation presents challenges related to health and dignity for the whole family, it was extra difficult for Soban with his disabilities.

When I needed to defecate, I went to the field or forest near my house. I felt scared and afraid to see a snake, and I always got a mosquito bite,” he said.

Recognising the additional challenges Soban’s family faced with his disabilities, WaterAid collaborated with local authorities and private water operator Prek Ampil, to provide Soban and his family with a decent toilet and a piped water connection for safe drinking water.

Soban and his son stand next to their new toilet
Soban and his son stand next to their new toilet
Image: WaterAid/Sun Kimsan

Mr. Soban was invited to participate in a behaviour change campaign offered by the local authorities and WaterAid to increase his understanding of the need for good hygiene and environmental cleaning. He was also invited to visit the water operator station to learn the system’s water treatment process and was recently able to explain the water purification process in great detail to the WaterAid team.

With a piped water system and access to a proper toilet, Soban and his family are enjoying a higher quality of life! They have noticed their illness has decreased, and they are saving both time and money now that they don’t have to collect water. Now Soban calls for all community members to keep practicing good hygiene, using toilets and drinking only safe water to prevent health issues and improve their lives.