It’s been a full week since our last update from D-Lab Cambodia, and a lot has happened since then! We had our first break last Sunday and went to visit the floating villages of Kampong Chhnang, where many community members spoke Vietnamese. Sam, who was busy meeting with more organizations for the technology dissemination project earlier this week, has temporarily split off from the team to do a field visit where he has been learning how to make animal feed and visiting fisheries, a swine farm and a chicken farm. He also reports that he tried fried tarantula for the first time - we wonder if it will be the last?
Since the last update, the International Development Enterprises (IDE) team has worked hard to fill in the details of its recommendation for the design center. The team has traveled to different markets to find parts and ask for prices, and met with representatives from a successful design lab in Myanmar to learn how they can improve the center in Cambodia. They are now close to finalizing their recommendations to IDE. The team also began a second project involving latrine emptying in rural areas. The objective is to determine methods to increase demand for environmentally sound latrine emptying services. The team traveled to Kampong Speu and Kandal Province to speak directly with latrine owners to learn more about how they empty their latrines. They learned much about sanitation in rural areas, and one group was offered some whiskey at 10AM in the morning (which was politely declined).
The Resource Development International (RDI) team has also had a whirlwind of activities this past week for the low-cost H2S test strip project. The students were trained by the RDI staff and made over 100 H2S test strips, with Dahlia becoming quite the professional at it. The team then completed a field trial of the test strips using samples of 30 different water sources from rainwater cisterns, ponds, dug wells, tube wells, ceramic filters, the Mekong river, etc. in the villages of Prekthom, Chroyo Ompil and Prek Eng. The tests were incubated at room temperature in the lab as well as in the field and results were recorded over a period 3 days (as you can imagine, the rotten egg smell of hydrogen sulfide was quite overwhelming when the bottles were opened for bleaching on day 3). Preliminary analysis of the low-cost H2S test strips compared to Pathoscreen (a commercial H2S test) and membrane filtration have been promising. The team is now getting ready to try the H2S test strips in educational workshops on clean water and hygiene.
An exciting development has been exploring a new potential partnership between the D-Lab team and students from the Institue of Technology of Cambodia (ITC). Two ITC students joined the RDI team today to learn more about the H2S project and assist with translation as the team interviewed kiosk owners about disposable battery sale/usage for Shawn Frayne's solar battery charging project. As chemistry and food science majors, the ITC students were especially excited to see RDI's plantation of moringa oleifera, which is a highly nutritious plant that the organization is trying to encourage mothers in the community to add to soups and stews. The plan is to have two more ITC students come to RDI to assist with translation during the educational project next week. It has been really encouraging to see how interested and enthusiastic the ITC students and faculty have been about getting more involved in development work. We hope D-Lab and ITC can continue finding opportunities for collaboration, both on this trip and in the future.
We're all off to Siem Reap early morning tomorrow to meet with the water and sanitation team from the D-Lab Schools class and visit Angkor Wat, one of the largest temple complexes in the world. This means we should have an even more exciting update for you next weekstay tuned!