The Lake Clinic
The Lake Clinic Cambodia, a free healthcare service that started in 2007, has helped nine different villages and more than 13,000 people in the isolated Tonlé Sap region of Cambodia. The Tonlé Sap area, in Southeast Asia, stretches 160 miles and holds more than 1 million people- all living in floating villages. These villages contain some of the poorest people in Cambodia. These communities face disease, poverty, and drastic change in weather temperaments. A majority of the people rely on fishing with a daily income of $2.50 a day. The Lake Clinic works hard to combat the poverty and health struggles amongst these communities.

Why is this Clinic Valuable?

According to The Lake Clinic, “a lack of education combined with limited access to hygiene and sanitation contribute to a huge burden of preventable diseases.” More often than not, there are no teachers or health care facilities. Due to drastic weather changes that make it expensive and dangerous to travel to receive health care, many go without. Thus, the Lake Clinic stepped in. However, traveling throughout the villages is difficult and expensive due to high fuel costs and a lack of adequate resources. The Lake Clinic uses old boats and technology, including inefficient solar panels, to do their work.

Funding Found and Established

The Honnold Foundation, run by Alex Honnold (rock climber, environmentalist and advocate), offered to help The Lake Clinic in Cambodia. The generous support of The Honnold Foundation helps to fund new solar panels of The Lake Clinic’s boat fleets they use to travel within the communities. Now “with an upgraded solar and battery system,” they also have the availability of better technology, such as ultrasound and electron diagrams. The Lake Clinic can efficiently provide better healthcare services to even more communities around the Tonlé Sap Lake area.

How The Lake Clinic is Using its Resources

Thanks to the solar panels and battery, the Lake Clinic has been able to expand the work it does, offering support and educational lectures about dental care, pregnancy, water sanitation, floating gardens, mental health, pediatrics and teenage care. Annually, they offer over 1,800 vaccines, almost 500 eye checks, over 600 dental treatments and almost 517 antenatal treatments. The Clinic has also been able to expand their operation, offering five clinics and six boats to the Tonlé Sap Lake.

Healthcare and poverty are inextricably related. Poverty increases the likelihood of disease, as resources for hygiene and sanitation are not accessible. Poor health can be a fatal result of poverty. Those living in poverty and impoverished communities are far more likely to struggle with hygiene, disease and malnutrition. They are actively fighting to work with solar panels to bring healthcare to the Tonlé Sap communities. These clinics on boats are offering solutions and help to those living within the Tonlé Sap region. Solar panels are not just an energy source, but a tool saving lives.

Hannah Kaufman
Photo: CND Pixabay

unreliable water systemsEven though half the world’s population now has water piped into their homes, access to the basic resource is not guaranteed. About 400 million people dwelling in cities in the developing world remain dependent on unreliable water systems, sometimes forced to wait up to 10 days if they miss the window of water supply.

Not surprisingly low-income households and small businesses are hit the hardest by water intermittency. Ultimately, unreliable water systems hinder health and economic development, especially in countries like India where 250 million people rely on imperfect water systems.

A University of California-Berkeley civil engineering graduate sought to address this issue when she created NextDrop, a phone-based program that notifies people when water will be available.

Founder Anu Sridharan and her team of fellow graduates began to put their idea into action after winning the Big Ideas@Berkeley contest in 2010. The year-long contest provides funding and support to teams of students who have innovative solutions for global challenges.

The system operates by collecting water flow information from valvemen who are responsible for opening and closing the valves that control water flow into various districts. By using NextDrop, households are typically alerted one hour before the valves open giving them peace of mind and the ability to carry out their daily tasks.

NextDrop has already reached 75,000 registered users in Bangalore, India. Now, USAID has announced plans to evaluate the effectiveness of the text message-based notification system and impact on quality of life.

If evidence from evaluations and surveys show NextDrop to be accurate and effective, funding will be provided for the service to be expanded into more major cities in developing countries.

As Phillip Denny, director of Big Ideas told USAID, “University-based programs like Big Ideas provide the perfect ecosystem for early-stage entrepreneurs by providing the resources, funding and ultimately the validation that allows ideas like NextDrop to thrive.”

Emily Ednoff

Photo: Flickr