Despite being essential for all life, globally some 2.2 billion people still do not have access to safe water for drinking and sanitation. This sees over 1,000 children die each day from preventable diarrhoeal diseases. Despite its importance, few private sector companies have shown an interest in the clean water business, particularly in rural and hard-to-reach areas where they perceive there to be minimal returns and high investment costs.
The Innovations Against Poverty programme seeks to change these perceptions through co-funding private companies to establish clean water treatment plants and bring clean water to rural areas. In Cambodia, access to clean piped water in rural areas is extremely low. Consequently, there remain high levels of waterborne disease in the rural population.
In 2018, with fund support from IAP, WE Venture was established with the purpose of providing treated water to rural communities. In January 2019, WE Venture completed their first water treatment plant in Prek Chik commune in Battambang Province.
With IAP funding to expand the water storage system and Samaritan's Purse support to extend the main pipe connection WE Venture have now expanded into the nearby communes of Robos Mongkul and Moung. As of June 2022, 6,224 people, across the two communes were connected to the WE Venture system and, for the first time, given access to clean water.
Water treatment has provided enormous benefits for these rural households. An impact assessment led by independent consultants, 60 Decibels, reported that in Prek Chik commune 90% of residents had assess to clean water for the first time, with another 46% reporting that their quality of life was ‘very much’ improved.
As Kruy Chanrith, General Manager of the WE Venture Company explains. 'With support from the IAP project, we can provide clean water to rural people. It is a basic need, and we make sure that our water is clean and of good quality. Before the project rural people had to travel far for water but now, they just turn on their tap.'