World Tourism Day marks a time for reflection. Not only in consideration of the catastrophic damage to the travel industry caused by the worldwide pandemic, but for the opportunity that now presents itself to build back better within the industry.
Sustainable travel has long been at the heart of Discova. Our business is local, which is why we’ve always put local community and enterprise support at the forefront of what we do. This is vital for a company, such as ours, that brings thousands of international visitors to destinations around the globe.
During the pandemic, with no incoming revenue, Discova was determined that support for local communities should not dry up. In fact, during travel’s hiatus, we have assisted developing an organic rice farming project in Bali, we’ve introduced a scholarship programme to benefit children in rural northern Vietnam, and now we aim to bring clean water to a disadvantaged community in Northern Thailand.
We have been working with the Om Goi community, in Chiang Mai province in northern Thailand, for over 25 years. During this time, we have been able to bring much needed financial and infrastructure support when it has been most crucial.
In recent discussions with community leaders, the issue of a safe water supply was raised, and a need for improvement was highlighted. That’s why, over the coming months and into next year, we will be organising fundraising activities to help provide the village of San Mamuang with a much-needed water filtration system.
Our goal is to raise the $10,000 necessary to help provide cleaner, safer water for the community.
Naturally, we’ll keep our partners updated with our progress along the way, but first, a little background on Om Goi, the history of our relationship with the community, and why this water filtration system is a priority for the village of San Mamuang.
Om Goi is a rural, mountainous district within Chiang Mai province in northern Thailand. It’s populated mainly by minority groups, often dubbed the hill tribes of northern Thailand, including the Karen, Hmong, and Lahu peoples. With an average monthly income of around 30 USD, these groups live well below the national average for northern Thailand, approximately 500 USD.
Villagers also face significant nutritional concerns brought on by the unreliable nature of traditional farming techniques combined with an unforgiving seasonal climate. The village’s remote location, difficult to access along windy mountain roads, can also mean supplies are hard to come by.
During our 25-year relationship with the Om Goi communities, we have forged a strong bond that has led to the development of successful community-based tourism initiatives. This has allowed us to raise money for vital projects – decided upon directly with the communities – through passenger contributions.
Previous projects have included constructing an ‘intelligent’ playground for the local school, providing mobile health clinics for almost 600 villagers, and installing water storage tanks in villages across the region.
However, during the pandemic, this revenue stream for infrastructure improvements has dried up – no travellers means no profit to draw upon. Yet, the challenges that the people of Om Goi face are ongoing. The small village of San Mamuang is no exception as the urgent need for clean water was highlighted to us during recent meetings with the community.
We want to help in any way we can. That’s why we’re launching a campaign to raise funds for a brand new water filtration system.
The Importance of Water
It is imperative for any community to have access to clean, safe, chemical-free water. It’s something many of us take for granted; that the water that comes from our taps is safe to cook with, clean with, and even drink.
Unfortunately, the water supply to San Mamuang is unclean, contaminated with chemicals and pesticides. Since the villagers use this water for cleaning, drinking, and cooking, there are many negative consequences. The local hospital reports that many children are contracting intestinal conditions due to the unclean water supply. Many others are developing skin diseases too due to washing with chemical-laden water.
The government had helped the community by installing expensive water pipelines to the village’s remote location. However, the government water filtration system runs on electrical power, increasing the villagers’ electricity bills by an unaffordable amount.
This is where we can step in and help. 5 years ago, we helped build a water filtration system in the nearby village of Mae Ramit Luang, successfully converting the water supply there to be safe to use. From this previous experience, we have a ready-made model to replicate; we know we can install a more affordable alternative water filtration system using locally sourced materials. Let’s have a look at the process.
Building an effective water filtration system will take around 7 days and will cost approximately $10,000 – everything has been fully costed and itemised by Discova and agreed upon by the villagers. The different stages will be completed as and when we accrue the funding.
Stage 1 will be laying the groundwork – choosing an appropriate location within the village and laying the foundation. Stage 2 will be building the filtration tanks – there will be 2 large cylinders. Stage 3 is the complicated element – adding in the filters of selected stones, sand and charcoal with the guidance of our local experts. Stage 4, and perhaps the most crucial step, will be testing the filtered water to make sure that the process is suitable and that the water has been rendered clean by the process.
We will invite an engineer from the local authority to oversee the project work. The locals will build the system while the materials will be provided by Discova, locally sourced to save on cost. We are emulating a process carried out in Mae Ramit Luang 5 years ago that proved successful.
Once completed, the water filtration system will provide clean water to 300 people in the area, paving the way for better sanitation for the village.
September 2021 sees the official launching of the Om Goi water filtration project as our fundraising campaign for the upcoming year.
We will be organising all sorts of activities throughout the year to help reach our goal to provide the village with clean water as soon as possible.
As a business, we have collectively committed to walking 10,000km in 10 days across our destinations. From November 4th-14th, our country teams will be dusting off their walking boots and racking up those steps. From strolling around Singapore to hiking in Hanoi – we’ll be walking for water and looking to raise as much money as possible. We’ll be sure to share updates on our progress.
If you would like to help bring clean water to the people of San Mamuang and would like your business to get involved, please reach out to your Discova Account Manager or email [email protected].
You can also donate directly through our Chuffed project page: Discovawalkforwater
Your support is greatly appreciated.
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