The use of pesticides for fishing in Mandalay division’s Thabyaw lake is contaminating the freshwater supply for local villagers in Sintgu township.
The residents of Kyauknganwar village rely on the lake for drinking water and domestic use, but many are becoming ill with hepatitis and diarrhoea.
Village resident, Nyunt Thu, said hepatitis is now common among the villagers.
“I have it and many other people do too,” he said. “Doctors warned us that drinking contaminated water could be the main cause.”
In 2004, the township’s governing body built a driven-well in the village but it did not produce enough water for the 800 people who rely on it – due to an underground layer of rock.
Local resident, Ohn Lwin, said neither the lake water or well-water supply were adequate to accommodate the village.
“The groundwater is not as good as the lake-water as it tends to get condensation when boiled,” he said. “It’s not good to drink and it makes the rice turn yellow when cooked. And when we boil the lake-water, it produces fumes and a bad smell.”
Recently, the charity We Love Monywa brought a team of medics to the village to provide free healthcare to the village. The group’s doctor urged the township authorities and health officials to inspect the lake and help the residents get access to clean drinking water.
The presiding doctor on the team, Dr Thiha, said the villagers urgently needed a clean water supply.
“The villagers are suffering from long-term health problems such as diarrhoea, enlarged liver and hepatitis, according to specialist doctors. So it is vital to provide the villagers access to clean water.”
The residents believe the well can be improved with modern drilling machines that are able to penetrate the rock layer.
They have called on sympathisers to help raise funds for the drill but until they make enough money, they still run the risk of becoming ill from drinking unsafe water.