Cambodian Water Project of Massachusetts

Children at handwash station Omani Village 2016

Children at Omani Village primary school are lining up to wash their hands with safe, clean water, thanks to a school-sized biosand filter installed in 2016. Using the same design that is used worldwide for family-sized filters, this 500-gallon filter draws on water pumped from ponds near the school, filters it through the biosand filter BSF into a storage tank, and pipes it to handwashing stations.

School Biosand Filter, Primary School in Omani, 2016


Installing family biosand filter, Omani 2013

The Cambodian Water Project of Massachusetts has been working with Omani Village in Battambang Province for 12 years helping build infrastructure for water and sanitation: ponds, toilets, rainwater tanks, and biosand filters. In 2014 we funded training and materials for 90 families to install and use biosand filters for safe drinking water, and in 2015 we helped the village temple to dredge out three ponds to expand the villages’ ability to store water from the rainy season. Heat, head monk of Omani Buddhist temple, has been leading these projects and stays in close touch with Sokha and Ny Mao, Cambodian-Americans who left their homeland in 1983, settled in Amherst, MA, and founded the MA Cambodian Water Project in 2003 with friends and neighbors.

Deeply dredged pond, Omani Village, 2016

School children filling water bottles a BSF, Sierey School

In 2017 we funded another school biosand filter in Kampong Chnang Province. Children can fill their water bottles with clean, safe water as well as learn good hygiene by using the handwashing station. In this region we’ve been funding hand-dug concrete wells for over 13 years, working closely with local project leaders such as Sopal, head monk in Trapang Chan and Saruen Soek, a lay community leader near Ang Pagoda.

Concrete well # 36 in Ang region. Saruen stands behind the well.

Well # 74 in Trapang Chan

We are collaborating with two Cambodian NGO’s, Bareebo and Clear Cambodia, which specialize in community development, hygiene education, and biosand filter technology. They have contributed funding, helped find suitable schools, built and delivered filters, installed the large school filters, and offered training and support to families, local leaders, school staff, and children.

Over half of Cambodians lack access to safe water, and childhood disease and death from unsafe water is high. Biosand filters (BSF) are an effective, affordable, durable technology for cleaning particles and pathogens from water – a fact that we confirmed in 2014 when a group of Marlboro students and faculty traveled with us to Cambodia, and we tested ponds, wells, and BSF-filtered water. Water from the nearby river was high risk for E. coli, but after a journey through the biosand filter, it was clean.

Test culture showing E coli risk from water drawn from a well before (left) and after (right) passing through BSF.


Marlboro College group in Cambodia January 2018, with project leader Heat, left.

What’s Next in 2018? In January 2018, a group of faculty and students from Marlboro College in Marlboro, Vermont visited both regions, and worked with Clear Cambodia and local leaders to plan community biosand filters at three additional schools.  Each school BSF costs over $2500. Help us to raise additional funds for these special projects by donating to MW-CWP now!



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Our Mission: We improve health and quality of life in rural villages by building reliable, year-round, clean sources of water and installing latrines to reduce the contamination of water supplies.



Dredged pond filled with rainwater, Omani 2016

We use technologies that have been well tested in village conditions, are inexpensive, long lasting, and made of local materials. We have funded hand dug wells, which are 20-45 ft deep, lined with concrete rings (approximately $300 each), ponds that fill with rainwater (approximately $1,500 each), and concrete pit toilets that will last for years ($90 each). We focus on several villages in the central lowlands and build relationships with the village and project leaders, who keep in direct contact by phone.

The MA Cambodia Water Project is funded through an annual dinner and fund drive, with donations coming from more than

Constructing a concrete well

80 individuals and small organizations each year. Peace Development Fund is our fiscal sponsor. Our board consists of Cambodian-Americans who left Cambodia in the early 1980s and other Americans who have a concern for our mission. Board members visit our projects in Cambodia every two years, and cover all of our fundraising costs, at our personal expense.




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