Here's the intro from NPR's Morning Edition:
Drinking water in Cambodia carries many risks. Many of the nation's wells and rivers contain bacteria, parasites and pesticides. However, there are ways to avoid unsafe water. Villagers are learning about safe drinking water through karaoke videos that combine stories of love with information about the dangers of arsenic and bacteria in some hand-dug wells.
Sampson is country director for Resource Development International-Cambodia. His wife Wendi and their four children also live and work there. He initially went for a few weeks to teach some chemistry, and decided to stay - that was over ten years ago!
Note that karaoke in Cambodia bears little resemblance to its American counterpart. Here is why it works:
Karaoke as an activity in Cambodia bears little resemblance to the American style of karaoke. As opposed to the USA where karaoke is mainly a bar-room activity that enjoys only mild popularity overall, in Cambodia virtually everyone likes to participate. Entire families sing along in their homes. Karaoke is sung at large celebrations and parties, small restaurants, and even in outdoor parks. It also does NOT require an audience. While in the western world, karaoke tends to be a 'performance' activity, in many Asian cultures it is not. Also, every age group participates with equal enthusiasm.
Secondly, karaoke songs need not be hit songs to be popular in Khmer culture. The style of the song and the lyrical method is what makes particular songs enjoyable. Our Khmer staff is very skilled at crafting particular lyrics and stylistically attractive songs that most any Cambodian would enjoy singing. RDI also employs nationally recognized musicians and singers to provide the back-up music and vocals for the initial recording.
While Americans might find an educational song to be "cheesy" or less than desirable, RDI has found that audiences are EAGER to sing our educational songs because of the very high quality in which they are written, played, and vocalized. Adults and children actually will pick up a microphone and begin singing brand new songs they have never heard because of the familiar way the songs are produced. In numerous field tests Cambodians are excited to sing along with no prompting. This is truly a culturally appropriate method of combining education with popular entertainment.