One of our main goals with BioSand Filters is to reduce diarrhea, a leading cause of death in children under five.
by Nicole Jones, Samaritans Purse Intern
I can’t believe it has only been a month since I came to Cambodia, considering how many new experiences I have had. Since I arrived, I’ve been part of a BioSand Water Filter (BSF) monitoring team. The filters, which use sand, gravel and microorganisms to filter harmful bacteria from water, are maintained by our staff to help ensure that families have safe, clean water for years to come!
Our monitoring team has three members who are all very good at their job. It is a pleasure to see how professional yet approachable they are in their many visits to local homes. Each visit has two key components.
First: maintaining the filter
This job begins by measuring the BSF’s water flow rate. If the water is running too fast, we pack the sand down in the filter so the water takes longer to pass through the layers of sand and gravel. If the water is running too slow, we take the sand out and clean it three to five times before returning it into the filter.
Second: data collection
One of the team members asks the family several questions, which cover topics such as the number of people living in the home, the presence of a designated sanitation area, their knowledge about handwashing and the frequency of diarrhea in the children under five years of age.
While I love the technical side of these visits, I more so appreciate the opportunity to see families’ homes. We have seen a variety of ways people store and collect their water.
When we ask households about the presence of a toilet or sanitation facility, we sometimes find latrines, but more often we don’t find anything. This is not surprising, considering WHO/UNICEF statistics indicate that 56% of rural Cambodians still practice open defecation.
One of our main goals with BSFs is to reduce diarrhea in children under five—a leading cause of death for children that age.
Sometimes, we get to meet and hang out with these little ones and their caregivers. And often, Anh (my fellow intern) and I cause a small stir in the community when we show up, which results in a group of curious children following us around.
Overall, I love spending time with my monitoring team, which has warmly welcomed me and Anh. The days are long, but full of experiences that I will take with me when I leave here.