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Water is essential for life. But millions of people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water. The problem isn't only that fresh water can be difficult to find in some drought-r idden regions. Poor sanitation and contamination of water sources also limit the fresh water available.

The Odong District in Cambodia is an example. "In the past, the people of Odong collected all of their drinking water from an open swampy area next to the road," explains Rachel Brink, a CRWRCCambodia staff member. "They bathed in this same water and let their animals drink there during the dry season. There were no other water sources nearby, and sometimes even this swamp would dry up."

As a result of drinking contaminated water, 3.5 million people die every year of waterborne diseases. Organizations like CRWRC are responding to this crisis, training local partners to educate community members about the risks of drinking contaminated water. Once a community commits to addressing the problem, CRWRC connects the residents with the resources they need to carry out solutions.

Last year CRWRC funded a project in Odong to block off an area next to the swamp and dig a pond for drinking water. Thi s project al so received funding f rom CRWRC's local partner, Community for Transformation, and from the Norwegian Mission Alliance.

"The community contributed materials and labor to build a fence around the pond to keep the animals out and ensure that they had a clean water source," said Brink. "They were especially blessed to find a spring when they were digging, so the pond filled up quickly."

Today that pond provides clean drinking water to 500 families throughout the dry season.

"The people of Odong are experiencing better health because they are not exposed to diseases from drinking contaminated water," said Brink.

In a similar way, CRWRC is helping other communities around the world gain access to clean water through wells, waterstorage containers, water filters, and sanitary latrines. These projects are often funded by generous members of the Christian Reformed Church.

"Last year Christ Community Church in Nanaimo, British Columbia, held a fund-raiser for new chairs for their auditorium and decided to do an 'alternative seat' sale at the same time to raise money for latrines," said CRWRC Donor Relations Manager Judy Eising.

"And Trinity CRC in Goderich, Ontario, had an Advent celebration focusing on water that raised over $30,000 for wells in West Africa. It is exciting to match campaigns like these with community initiatives to improve access to fresh water."

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