IWA Publishing

The effect of seasonal climate on bottled water distribution in rural Cambodia

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The rural population of Cambodia currently has limited access to improved water sources, with monthly access significantly varying between the wet and dry seasons. This poses difficulties for many households across the country, especially in the dry season when stored rainwater – a common source for many – becomes difficult to obtain, necessitating a switch to sources unsafe for consumption. This study evaluates the effect of seasonal climate on bottled water as an alternative solution to accessing safe drinking water. A study of 240 households in the Battambang province, Cambodia correlated seasonal uptake of bottled water with household wealth, quality of road access and access to alternatives. This was supported by historical data on bottled water uptake from three communities. The results suggest that substantial seasonal change in uptake occurs in rural Cambodia; most noticeably in households of low wealth. As one of the first studies on bottled water in Cambodia, these are important findings; particularly given the recent increase in rural bottled water distribution. The study finds bottled water is not an appropriate means for Non-Governmental Organisations targeting the poorest strata of the community; however there is potential for the private sector to supply more affluent households.

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