A large part of our work in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea focusses on water, sanitation and hygiene promotion. Working with local teams in Daesong and Sinhung last year, we implemented a gravity-fed system for water supply to each village, using a lake water source some kilometres away.
Construction proved challenging due to the lack of suitable construction materials nearby. Stones, gravel and sand had to travel up to 15km by truck, tractors, oxen, or even hand cart. But despite the challenges, the system in Daesong was completed in March, with Sinhung households turning on their taps in November.
The new water systems have dramatically improved lives for the villagers. Pak Chang Ho described the reaction in Daesong village:
When the water came out of the taps, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Actually nobody in our village believed that water would flow from the lake such a long distance. Everybody, the elders and the children in the village were so excited…some of the grandmothers cried to see water running. It was like a holiday.
Despite a drought last summer, the village has had no scarcity of drinking water. “During hot summer days, villagers had the pleasure of a bath,” he told us.
There has been a large decrease in the number of water-borne diseases reported in Daesong as compared to last year. Furthermore, as villagers no longer have to spend so much of their day in pursuit of water, the total man days available for agricultural work have almost doubled – with tangible results. Daesong celebrated a bumper harvest last year with the village’s yield 1.7 times higher than the previous year. This is the highest recorded annual crop yield in the history of Daesong village.
Pak Ho Chang said:
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