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Water Sanitation Project for the Karen Hilltribes, 2014, Thailand

Though it is something we often take for granted, clean water and sanitation technologies are coveted resources throughout the developing world, including but not limited to, Asia.

In 2014, Give2Asia partnered with the Karen Hilltribes Trust to provide four water filtration, irrigation and waste disposal systems, with over 100 latrines in two Karen Hilltribe villages in northern Thailand. With a little over $60,000, Give2Asia and the Karen Hilltribes Trust were able to ensure the improvement of the health and livelihoods for these vulnerable communities.

The Karen people form one of the largest tribes in Southeast Asia and are known for their terraced rice fields as well as their advanced weaving techniques.

Karen families are among the lowest income group in Thailand with over 64% living below the $2 per day poverty line. The Karen people primarily rely on their land for their livelihood and access to clean water is essential for the sustainability and livelihood of the Karen people. In years past, the major challenge facing these villages has been to maintain these fields during severe rainstorms in the winter and debilitating droughts in the summer. However, due to climate change, these extremes continue to worsen each year. As a result, rice production from this region has dropped substantially, affecting the main source of livelihood for the Karen people, and necessitating new irrigation systems designed to handle these changes.

Clean water allows for healthier individuals and families, leading to a more active workforce and thus, heightened levels of economic productivity. This is also important for the education of future generations. For example, 1 in 4 children complete their education in rural Thailand. With consistent access to clean water in this area, children can focus on their studies rather than finding new sources of clean water for their family.

The Karen Hilltribes Grant from Give2Asia established simple but effective water filtration system capable of producing water more than ten times cleaner than other sources in the region. Diseases like malaria, typhoid, E. Coli, and other bacterial diseases have reduced by almost 98% because of these filtration methods. Through engaging and participatory educational efforts, the Karen people can now operate and maintain these filtration units, latrines, and irrigation and waste disposal systems.

Give2Asia is proud to work with organizations like the Karen Hill Trust because it created a project that was sustainable, effective, empowered local communities, and encouraged local participation. For us, these are key components to any development project we fund because it addresses critical issues with local expertise, ensuring that the project has long-term impact and is sustainable.

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