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Nearly 200 villages in central Burma are suffering from acute water shortages, according to the Civil Society Network, an NGO that has begun an emergency import of potable water to village tracts in the area around Mount Popa in Mandalay Division where wells have yielded water contaminated by disease.
The wells themselves were a local government initiative to relieve water shortages, which have grown ever more severe as the long dry season has carried on.
Ko Phyo of Civil Society Network said the number of affected villages is much higher than previously thought: “We heard that nearly ten villages were suffering from water shortages. The main problem was a shortage of drinking water. There are 150 villages lacking drinking water shortage because the water from pump wells is not fit to drink due to diseases.”
Kyaukpadaung resident Aye Myint Yee confirmed that the government pumps are not working.
“The pump well cannot produce enough and the taste of water is bitter,” she said.
However the government has declined to truck water into towns that have been supplied with the pumps.
Aung Pyi, who heads the Kyaukpadaung Township Development Committee, said that the 65 pump wells, dug in conjunction with the Mandalay government, were sufficient sources of water.
“There is no problem with drinking water in most of the places where we have dug the wells,” he said.
Regulations on the digging of private wells has also added to the water shortage problem, say villagers from Taungthar Township, also in Mandalay Division.
This has forced the Civil Society Network, which last year distributed water only to villages in Kyaukpadaung Township, to extend their water deliveries into Nyaung Oo Township in Mandalay Division and Chauk Township in Magwe Division.
Water shortages are not unusual in central Burma during the dry season.