Water and Sanitation

Clean Water

The Need: Clean water provides the basis for all community development and is a basic human right. However, 31% of the Karen are still reliant on surface water as their main drinking source and many are forced to walk for hours every day to collect polluted river water. As a result, villagers are at a heightened risk of contracting preventable conditions such as typhoid and stomach ulcers. 

“When we collected water from the river it would be dirty, so we would have to wait until the dirt settled at the bottom. And then we would have to drink the water with the dirt in it.”

- Kudi, Villager from Huai Koo Pa

The Project: We are working with the Karen to address these critical health issues by installing innovative gravity-fed clean water systems (the design and installation process for which can be viewed here). Karen volunteers from a village will plan, build and maintain the project themselves with the supervision of our experienced Karen construction team. This results in communities developing the skills needed to ensure its long-term sustainability. 

The Impact: Our data has confirmed that villages benefitting from a clean water system experience a dramatic reduction in the incidence of preventable diseases, reducing typhoid levels by up to 98%. Instant access to clean water also reduces the time spent on collection and purification during the working day, improving productivity and leading to economic benefits. A higher household income can then be put towards other essential services, including healthcare and education. 



The Need: Sanitation and hygiene play a key role in disease reduction, but many Karen still lack the essential facilities needed to prevent illnesses such as E. coli and diarrhoea. Villagers instead use the nearby forest, and heavy rainfall can lead to the subsequent contamination of water sources with human waste. 

"We had to collect water from a stream above the village. We had no toilets and had to go to the toilet in the forest. We got rashes on our legs from insect bites and urinary problems.”

- Ri Sipaw, Karen Mother of Three

The Project: To ensure a holistic approach to improving health, our clean water systems are installed alongside a number of latrine units (typically 30 or more depending on the size of the village). Construction is managed by our Karen team and carried out by the families who will use the units, equipping them with the skills and knowledge needed to clean and maintain them. 

The Impact: We install enough units to ensure that all families in a village have access to our pour-flush latrine and shower facilities, which dramatically improve sanitation levels. Controlled waste management reduces the incidence of preventable illnesses such as diarrhoea and E. coli, a life-changing difference for villages which can be as far as 80 kilometres from the nearest hospital. 


How You Can Help

Since 1999 we have overseen the installation of more than 150 clean water systems, benefitting tens of thousands of Karen. However, there are still huge numbers living in Thailand’s remotest communities who lack these essential facilities. It costs £16,000 to install a joint clean water and sanitation project, and any donation whether large or small can make a huge difference. If you would like to help us continue transforming community health, please visit the donation page on our website or contact our fundraising team today.