About the Author: Kira Vuille-Kowing serves in the Office of Policy and Public Outreach in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.
Earlier this week, Daniel A. Clune, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) of State for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES), visited a family-run water service provider and several homes benefiting from this service in Cambodia's Khsach Kandal District. PDAS Clune's personal conversations with several of the households made an indelible impression that the United States is dedicated to a water-secure future; a future in which everyone has the water they need for health, economic growth, and security.
Located less than 30 miles from Phnom Penh, these projects are supported by the USAID Cambodia Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Project, an initiative that facilitates technical and business assistance to thousands of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in rural Cambodia. A component of MSME encourages Cambodian water service providers to expand their supplies of piped clean drinking water to rural households by building or upgrading their infrastructure. PDAS Clune said, “Most importantly, this approach strengthens -- rather than undermines -- local small businesses and entrepreneurs and therefore builds in an element of sustainability and innovation often missing in other development projects.”
During his visit, he observed how Cambodian water providers go from informally pumping untreated water to becoming licensed providers who distribute safe drinking water to families. The project he visited will eventually serve over 50,000 Cambodian citizens. At the end of the visits, PDAS Clune praised the project for rising to meet the water challenges in Cambodia, saying “I commend you for making a difference in the daily lives of your families, friends, and neighbors who will benefit from improved access to clean water.”