The Tabitha Water Program
The Tabitha water program runs in parallel with the “Savings” program. This program enables families to have access to clean, potable water and to raise a family’s income significantly. Before a family receives a source of water they must be in the savings program. Without a distinct change in attitude and the development of a dream, wells will not impact a family’s development.
Water Security in Cambodia
In the absence of safe wells, drinking water is sometimes taken from open ponds or rivers which are commonly polluted with excreta or chemicals. Villagers (and most importantly children) often develop dysentery.
The average distance to walk to a safe water source is 3 kilometers. This means that several members of the family are required to wake at 4 in the morning, walk to the water source and then wait their turn for water – usually 3 to 4 hours. This precludes a number of children from attending school.
Since a person is only able to carry several containers of water at a time, it means that family members often develop skin rashes, their hair becomes stiff and dull and eyes are infected with dirt related causes because of their inability to wash on a daily basis.
Water Sources and an Increase in Income
Without a sustainable source of clean water near their homes, families are restricted in their ability to increase their incomes. Animal husbandry or growing crops is impossible without an ongoing source of water available.
Crops (mainly rice) are grown during the wet season. However, because rainfall tends to be erratic–wet season crops may fail because of inadequate sources of water – wells provide that water.
During the long dry season no crops will grow unless a reliable source of water is secured. Wells and ponds provide that security. Families with wells or ponds grow “6-week’ vegetables, including “morning glory”, peas, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. throughout the dry season as well as summer rice. Animal husbandry, the raising of pig, chickens, ducks are an integral part of income generation from wells. Their productive growth seasons expand from 6 months to an average of 11 months per year thereby tripling a family’s consumable income as well as providing food security.
Impact of Water
The impact of a secure water source for Tabitha families is immense. All families are required to earn a steady source of income through their source of water. This enables families to rapidly increase their incomes from an average of .50 cents per day to an average of $5000-$6000 USD per year. This spendable income enables families to pay off debts, to further increase their incomes with additional sources of income, to rebuilding their homes, to putting their children in schools.