Running water

Bunrauth's water business
Image: WaterAid/Remissa Mak

When Bin Bunrauth was a school student, the breaks in between classes didn’t signal free time. For Bunrauth, they were his only chance to look for drinking water.

“I had to run and find any water to drink,” he recounts. He wasn’t picky either, admitting to drinking whatever water he could find. “Sometimes it’s clean, sometimes it’s not. That made me feel stomach ache and diarrhoea.”

Years later, working as a rice and tobacco farmer, Bunrauth was still unable to access a clean drinking source. “I would just drink any water in front of me because I didn’t understand the benefits of clean water.”

It’s hard to believe this same man is now extremely selective about the water he consumes. Indeed, you’ll rarely see him go anywhere without clean drinking water on hand.

Everything changed for Bunrauth and his local community when he and his wife were chosen to operate an O-we water kiosk in their village. Their business, which runs in collaboration with the local health care centre where WaterAid works, sells 4000 reusable water containers per month to the local community, making clean drinking water the norm in this remote community in Cambodia’s Kampong Cham Province.

Bunrauth promotes his business by explaining the health benefits of O-we water to members of his community. “I tell people that this water will make you have good health, that the water doesn’t contain any chemicals.”

Some locals were initially sceptical but their suspicions were eliminated after they conducted their own tests on the water and visited Bunrauth’s production site. Those same people now are among Bunrauth’s biggest advocates, telling people throughout the village that his O-we water product is clean.

One of the places where Bunrauth and his team deliver water for free is the local primary school, where his youngest child attends. His older kids are just as passionate about drinking clean water; indeed, his high school-aged child raises money with their friends to buy water to use in their class.

As Bunrauth ponders the differences between his own experiences and that of his children, he can’t help but smile.

Students fill up their water bottles
Primary school students fill up their water bottles using the free bottle Bunrauth delivers to the school
Image: WaterAid/Remissa Mak