On Saturday 20th September 2008, I went to Koh Thom to investigate the water supply situation in the area. It was a request from my dear friend, Samnang, one of the prominent member of the PS Group. The other group members who joined the course was Luong and Visal Sot. Samnang intended to help both his sister and brother-in-law to complete their degree in Urban Development field which they are studying in one university in Japan.
We set off at 7am and had breakfast in Ta Kmao town. We drove for an hour to reach the sub-province of Koh Thom. We crossed the Basac River and by 9 am, we commenced our mission.
The reason we chose Koh Thom for our investigation over the existence of Arsenic is because the region is rated and reported that the region is experiencing the worst moment with Arsenic, in all of Cambodia. In according to the report, they say there are 99% of the regional digging wells in which has Arsenic.
Arsenic is a semi-metallic element, labelled "As", and is very poisonous. Living people who has Arsenic atoms running through their veins maybe seen as in these pictures (taken from one villager)
Our purpose is to question the villagers about their daily water need and supply, how safe are them and about the Arsenic problems. For the first few villages, the water supply is "safe" enough to use, without any concern of the Arsenic. The villages often visited by different groups of people whose main purpose is about the people and Arsenic situation.
As for me, seeing a beautiful place turns into a region where water is no safe for people is quite a pain. I just wish that there will be speedy resolutions to the current crisis of the villages. However, there are only investigations and study, but there is no report about future plan to develop the area. People are waiting for assistance, very much in their heart, because they don’t want their children to live in the future without the pain they endure today. Even the villagers have more knowledge about the Arsenice problems and relevant information, they can only do a few thing to deal with this issues. wik
So far, our study tells us that only two digging wells are classified as "safe." for the entire village, it is not enough. Clean water is very vital for people’s life.
Before we left Koh Thom, we went to visit some patients who have Arsenic disease. They stay home all the time after the disease came, and the society loses one more labour potentiality. While it can not afford to lose more, the problem is growing.
I hope that the ministry of urban development will impose a new policy to save the situation as soon as possible, as the new government has finally been formed through the 4th general election. And I hope our people will understand more about the disease and create preventative measure against its spreading.
By the way, along the road, I noticed this large Buddha statue: