The Education Drought

The Education Drought

Or why going to school depends on more than uniforms and pencilsWritten by Natassia BellThe wells in the villages are 250 meters deep, but they sit empty. There is no water to drink, no water to cook rice in, and no water to bathe in.Whilst Cambodia experiences some level of drought every year before the monsoon season begins, El niño, a phenomenon of climate change, has in 2016 produced the hottest year on record and a drought of unprecedented harshness.

Thousands of livestock and fish have died.  Rivers, dams and wells have dried up, and many rural villages are facing severe water shortages making health and sanitation issues a harsh reality for the people living there.Health and sanitation, however, are not my forte; education is.  And so I need to tell you how this drought prevents a girl from going to school and increases her risk of being trafficked.I’ve personally never experienced water restrictions, let alone the absolute absence of water.  By 9am every morning, I have usually used hundreds of litres without a second thought.  I have showered, flushed the toilet, drunk about a litre of water, eaten food that required thousands of litres of water to produce, and washed my breakfast dishes. I have brushed my teeth. Then after I have used all of this water, I head off to university for the day.Now compare my morning routine to a girl living in rural Cambodia, where the effects of climate change are taking the greatest toll.

By 9am she has probably not eaten breakfast, probably has not drunk even a glass of water because there is not enough to spare, and she definitely would not have taken a five minute shower.  She would be hungry, thirsty, likely wearing a dirty-looking school uniform, and her mother might even ask her to skip class for the day to help search for food and water.If she loves studying, and knows her future depends on finishing school, but her family members are becoming dehydrated and hungry, how can she say no?Baray Lake, Siem Reap 2015

Baray Lake, Siem Reap 2016

Baray Lake now