YSEALI U.S. Fellow Summer 2017 Cohort:
Departed from city of Phnom Penh, Cambodia the morning of Monday August 14, 2017 from downtown to the airport taking the local bus. The city of 2.0M has very limited bus routes, consisting of 3 routes. The frequency is rather unreliable, however the price is very reasonable at 2500 Reil ($0.65). One interesting note is that most financial transactions in the country use the US Dollar rather than the Cambodian Riel ($1 = 4200 Riel) – your wallet starts getting very think with riels , for example if you purchase a $100 item, that is equal to 400,000 riels, which is a lot of paper bills. The fleets of city buses were recently donated by China. The bus trip took over 1-1/5 hours to go 10 Km (6.3 miles), the traffic congestion is incredible and will only get worse as the city continues to grow. I arrived in Siem Reap, a short 55 minute flight. Flew on Cambodia Anchor Airways, the official airline of Cambodia. The Siem Reap airport is near to the city with a population of 200,000, which is experiencing rapid growth due to tourism. The main tour attraction is the Anchor Wat temples and is very heavily visited by Chinese, Japanese and South Koreans. The city is looking to start construction on an $800M new airport, located approximately 50 Km (35 miles) from the city, which will be financed and operated by a Chinese group with a 20 year lease agreement.
I was met at the airport by Ven Socheat who is the local representative for LGMA (Local Government Municipal Authority). Socheat was very friendly and knowledge of the region having grown up in the area and he presently lives on a farm located approximately 15 Km from the City. He is growing lime trees and experimenting with various varieties of fruit trees using best farming practices. He has his master’s in education and is 6 months away from being certified as a tour guide. Although he is not pursuing teaching as a profession, as the pay is very low, nor are most of his classmates, he is the organizer and director of “Book Buddies” which is a local NGO (non-governmental organization) sponsored by an individual from Australia. Book Buddies provides books to the local rural village children who typically do not have access to books in the classroom. Attendance in very low for elementary aged children and especially lower for middle school and even lower for high school students in the rural agricultural areas of Cambodia according to Socheat. Children at a very young age start working on the rice farms or assisting their parents in their other home businesses.
I stayed at a local hotel, Kourpay Hotel, located approximately 1 mile from the city center. Many of the guests at the hotel were from Japan.
Monday, August 14, 2017
First day in Siem Reap we visited a local village who had received financial and technical assistance to construct a water bottling facility adjacent to the “town office”.
We met with the elected president or mayor of the commune (village) of Preachdak with a population of 8,000. His name was Douchm Chhan. He explained that the NGO “1001 Fountaines” along with assistance from UNICEF and Agency Francaise. The sponsors contributed $20K towards the water system and the community participated in the amount of $600. It was constructed in 2011. Prior to that the villagers did not have access to clean water and used the contaminated water from the water bodies around their houses. The water system hires 3 persons from the village who produce the water and then they sell the 5 gallon containers for 1,500 reil ($0.35). They are working on educating the villages on the value of clean water and recommending how much water each person should drink per day. The water system is simple and efficient consisting of a 35 meter (100 ft.) deep well, water is pumped via a gas pump to a small above ground tank, then the operator opens a valve and water flows into a sand filter, a carbon filter and then into a below ground holding tank. When the operator is ready to start filling the previously cleaned water jugs, they start a battery electrical powered pump (battery charged by a solar panel on top of pump house building), which causes water from the tank to flow through cartridge filters than through an ultraviolet disinfection unit. Filler water jugs have a cap placed on top and it is shrink wrapped for sealing. They typically produce 60-70 bottles per day and the operator feels they can do approx. 100 bottles per day, which they either deliver of people pick it up.
The mayor indicated that they are looking for funding to construct a septic/sewage disposal system to serve the town office. Presently they just use the nearby outdoor facilities.
Also visited a nearby rice farm which is the staple agriculture crop for the area. Each villager has a small plot of land which is barely enough to provide a meager living for the family. Approx. 85% of Cambodia is agriculture land.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
Visited Siem Reap Wastewater Treatment Plant WWTF, Deputy Chief, Im Vibol – who is responsible for wastewater, stormwater and floodwater. The drainage and sewer system is combined with flows directed into pipes than eventually into open channels which run through the city eventually reaching the WWTF. The facility is 8,000 cu meter per day (2.1 MGD) and was constructed in 2010, Phase 1, with funding from Asian Development Bank (ADB) and phase 2 in 2013 with funding from South Korea – total funds of $40M. They are looking to expand but are still looking for funding sources. The wastewater process is a lagoon system which is low on energy and operation and maintenance costs. In addition to treatment, they also are responsible for sewer maintenance and repairs and cleaning. Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has funded and is providing a person as part of a 3-year contract to provide training. In addition JICA sends operators to Japan for regular training of the wastewater system. They are working on educating children about sanitation and the wastewater treatment process with the use of tours and handouts.
Visited an area with floating houses as part of a floating village.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Met with a representative at the American Corner located at the University of Southeast Asia. It is a place for public, mostly students, to meet and discuss and to do assignments. They provide a wide range of English language books and materials focusing on the USA.
Met with the City of Siem Reap Water Supply Authority. They provided information on their water system.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Visited the Anchor Wat temples and early evening arrived at airport for flight back to Phnom Penh.
Friday, August 18, 2017
Visited the MOE and participated in a presentation by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as part of their training of the staff in understanding effluent limits and the methodology in establishing limits.
I made a presentation with information on New Hampshire, on the Hooksett wastewater treatment facility and made a recommendation on the report which was prepared by JICA for the for the Department of Public Works and Transport, Phnom Penh Capital City titled “The Study on Drainage and Sewerage Improvements Project in Phnom Penh Metropolitan Area” dated 12/2106. My recommendation was to revisit aerated activated sludge lagoons with floating curtain walls which could save the City 50% in capital costs and operation and Maintenance costs
Saturday, August 19, 2017
Visited the Killing Fields and a Community Silk Farm.
Arrived at airport for flight back to the United States.
END OF TRIP
James Donison, Assistant Public Works Director/Town Engineer
Town of Hooksett, NH