Sustainable access to drinking water in rural areas

In Cambodia, the 1001 Fontaines association is developing carbon-free water kiosks for rural populations.

Humanitarian and Development

  • Place
  • Sponsors
    Paul de Rosen, Thierry Vandevelde
  • Grants
    30,000 € to the 2004/09/28 Selection Committee
    50,000 € to the 18/06/2012 Board of Directors
    10,000 € to the 22/11/2021 Board of Directors
    2,000 $ from Veolia Water Technologies Asia-Pacific on behalf of their customers (february 2024)

Project leader

1001 Fontaines

To be much more than a simple drop of water, that is certainly the ambition of the founders of the 1001 Fontaines pour demain association. Their credo is to promote the installation of autonomous drinking water production stations combining UV filtration and solar energy. This project is complemented by the creation of local micro-businesses (families becoming small private operators), responsible for producing and selling this water at very low prices.

Her target audience? Cambodia's rural population, 72% of whom have no access to drinking water. People living in isolated villages often have no water or energy supply infrastructure. By 2020, two million people will still be drinking untreated surface water or water from unprotected wells.

A first phase in Bantey Chmar, Sisophon and Preah Netr Preah

The first unit has been installed in Bantey Chmar, a village of around a thousand families in north-west Cambodia. Nine months after the project began, almost one family in five has already opted for water treated by the new private operator. Priced at around 0.17 euros per 20-liter cylinder, the purified water has won over around 800 people on a regular basis, despite the drain on their budgets. A second station has been set up in Sisophon, a few kilometers from Bantey Chmar, at a children's home run for many years by the Enfants du Mékong association, and a third at the Preah Netr Preah hospital.

Following its initial success, 1001 Fontaines decided in 2006 to extend the system to 15,000 new beneficiaries in eight new villages. In 15 years, it has installed 260 water treatment units and as many "water kiosks", and estimates the number of beneficiaries at 800,000.

Large-scale spin-off

Starting in the 2020s, the Veolia Foundation is renewing its support for 1001 Fontaines, which is raising its standards by focusing on decarbonizing the entire potabilization chain and maintenance processes. Innovations at the plants are helping to increase production volumes, improve drinking water quality and integrate digital monitoring.

The 2021-2023 project should provide over 100,000 people with access to drinking water, and reduce CO2 emissions by 27,350 tonnes over ten years. The French Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Economic Recovery is also supporting the project via an envelope from Fasep (Fonds d'études et d'aide au secteur privé pour financer des études de faisabilité ou la démonstration de technologies vertes et innovantes).