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Saving Cambodia's Great Lake

In Cambodia today, there is increasing concern the nations flowing heart, the Tonle Sap Lake, must be conserved before it is too late. Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in South-East Asia and is the lifeblood of Cambodias agrarian and fishing society. However, the regions natural splendour and traditional riparian life are under threat.

While the Cambodian Government has made progress in providing water and sanitation services, water access in the area remains the second lowest in Asia and open defecation continues. High rates of water-related diseases are reported, with women, children and the elderly in particular suffering from using or consuming untreated water and low standards of hygiene. NGOs have intervened, and it is the collaborative effort between Engineers

Without Borders Australia and Live and Learn Environmental Education that has brought us to the University of Queensland. Building on a concept proposed by the NGOs, Latrinology Tech, a team of UQ engineering students, are developing a latrine and waste management system that will increase the standard of sanitation of the lakes communities by decontaminating the local water supply. Latrinology Tech's proposed design is a single-vaulted, ventilated pit latrine that requires oxygen to decompose waste so it can be recycled as compost for agriculture and biogas for cooking and lighting.

While the initial response is positive, lack of funding may negate successful implementation. The team hopes to release a prototype system for a single family in a stilted or floating home by the end of the year. The project is a work in progress. While uncertainty surrounds the final product and its pervasiveness, if successfully implemented, the Tonle Sap community will certainly benefit. Acknowledgements: Asian Development Bank at https://www.adb.org/Projects/Tonle_Sap/.


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