Water Journal : Water Journal April 2013
WATER APRIL 2013 48 Feature Article WASH Engineering Adviser Gabrielle McGill writes of her experiences working with Engineers Without Borders to improve sanitation options in Cambodia. The Tonle Sap lake and its surrounding area is home to 1.6 million people in Cambodia, many of whom live in oating communities. Currently few appropriate, affordable sanitation options exist for oating houses, and the addition of pig farms to these communities has increased sanitation issues. Live and Learn Environmental Education is a Cambodian-based non-governmental organisation one of whose major initiatives in Cambodia is its WASH program, which has the aim of improving local sanitation and hygiene. I am currently assisting with the trial of a number of new small household biodigesters for oating or ood-affected communities, which in addition to improving sanitation for the community can also produce biogas that can be used for cooking, while treated waste can be used as a fertiliser. Still in its early stages, Live and Learn is researching both through trials installed in the community and at a demonstration site in Phnom Penh. My day-to-day work varies with time spent out in the eld, in the of ce planning for the month, writing reports on lessons learned and general documentation, and also time at our testing site. At the testing site we have seven biodigesters, which we have set up to test different feeds, retention times and prototypes to improve operation, which should hopefully improve community use. About once a month I head out to the eld for a week. Here is a brief series of diary entries from my last stint in the eld. Day 1. The trip begins I arrive at the of ce in Phnom Penh but we're not ready to go yet. There are a few more bits of paperwork to complete, a couple more tools and other items to grab from the workshop out the back... and, I guess the biggest hindrance to us leaving -- the car hasn't arrived yet. Finally the car turns up and is dutifully packed with all our necessary belongings for the week -- hammocks for sleeping in, water for drinking, but only a small amount of food for eating, as we'll be getting more food in the eld. We're off shortly afterwards. As the constant chatter in Khmer (that I wish I could understand) from my colleagues lls the bus, I sit and watch Cambodia pass by -- rice paddies (mostly being harvested), cows and the Tonle Sap River. We soon arrive at our port where we get on a boat to get to the oating village we are working with. I've never been to the oating village in the dry season before so it all looks quite different. Housing that was only previously accessible by boat (similarly to Venice in some ways) is now accessible by land -- albeit a very muddy land. We meet up with local staff from the area and they take us around to some of the biodigesters we have previously installed, and tell us how they think the project is working in the community. They talk about how some people are using the biogas a lot MONITORING BIODIGESTERS ON AND AROUND THE TONLE SAP, CAMBODIA: A WEEK IN THE FIELD A oating village in the wet season (left) and in the dry. Fish being smoked in one of the communities. A trip on a 'cow machine'.
Water Journal February 2013
Water Journal May 2013