SINGAPORE - Drinking water is readily available in Singapore, but its neighbouring countries, in stark contrast, face a water crisis.
According to local non-profit organisation Lien AID, more than 200 million people in Asia still lack access to clean water.
To mark this year's World Water Day on March 22, organised by the national water agency PUB, Lien AID hopes to raise awareness about the water situation beyond Singapore's borders.
Its focus this year is to educate Singaporeans about the lack of clean water access in neighbouring countries such as Cambodia and Myanmar, and hopefully get more public support for its projects.
It is holding a Virtual Reality (VR) exhibition from March 20 to April 8, titled Windows of Hope, which showcases a 360-degree view of Preaek Chrey Village in Cambodia. Frequent flooding leads to villagers being limited to dirty river water or rainwater for their daily water needs such as drinking, cooking and washing. The only other source of water is imported from Vietnam, which can cost up to $1 a bottle. This would be unaffordable for those earning less than a dollar a day.
Since 2006, Lien AID's projects in Asia have benefited more than 900,000 people.
Most importantly, its projects emphasise greater ownership and self-sustainability. Partnering local governments, civil society organisations or village leaders, Lien AID empowers locals to take charge of their water problems and the solutions to tackle them.
For instance, under the Community Water Enterprise programme in Cambodia, water entrepreneurs are selected from the villages to operate the water treatment and boiling plants. Water management committees are also formed locally to oversee the sale of cheaper water. All members involved are trained in basic water management.
More than 3,000 people gained access to cleaner water through the project in Preaek Chrey Village - and 75 such projects have been completed in Cambodia alone.
Lien AID's projects have been funded by donations, corporations and local governments that it works with. It hopes to further enlist the help of skilled volunteers such as public health experts and engineers.
Lien AID chief executive officer Koh Lian Hock said future projects are focused on achieving depth - increasing knowledge about the importance of water at institutional levels and creating real impact on communities - rather than expanding its coverage to more countries.
"We hope that more people in Singapore will better understand the impact of the region's water challenges, learn how Lien AID works with local governments and rural communities to tackle these challenges, and discover what individuals can do to make a difference," he added.
Visitors can catch the VR exhibition on March 20 and 21 from 10am to 10pm at 313@Somerset Atrium Space; March 22 and 23 from 8am to 8pm at the Ocean Financial Centre Open Space; and April 2 to April 8 from 10am to 9pm at Star Vista B1 Atrium.
Visit http://www.lienaid.org/get-involved/ for more details on how to get involved with this cause.