Water returns to crisis-hit regions

A welcome shift in weather patterns coupled with ongoing relief efforts in central and southern Burma has brought to a close a lengthy water shortage.

Numbers of hand-dug and pump wells are now functioning around Bago division’s Thanatbin and Waw townships, said Aye Myint, leader of the Guiding Star legal advocacy group which has provided assistance to farmers in Bago.

“The problem is pretty much solved. I was talking to some villagers this morning…they were very happy that they now have sufficient water,” he said. “There is not much rain here now – not enough to reach into the creeks, but the water should be enough for them to use in the coming years.”

He added that locals had recently found new sources of fresh water after digging wells that had produced only saltwater.

In an area home to around 40 villages in Burma’s southern Irrawaddy delta, which was razed by cyclone Nargis in May 2008, lakes with holding capacities of 60,000 gallons were being dug by the Myanmar Medical Association (MMA).

“The lakes are 10 feet deep and 100 square-feet wide and they can hold enough water to last 1000 people six months,” said an MMA official. “Supposing we finish building all the lakes in October, then there will be plenty of water for people here next summer.”

The MMA was funded by the Japanese and Australian governments, as well as UNICEF. Previously, the group built 50 lakes for villages closer to the sea south of Bogale, including Kyaunnyo village. The group warned however that there remains villages with little access to water.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) party’s Cyclone Nargis Relief Committee is also building two pump wells in Bogale’s Aung Tayza and Myat Phayon village. The committee’s leader, Ohn Kyaing, said however that work has been suspended because only saltwater had been found.

“We are inspecting a spot [for well-digging] in a village named Satsu. Right now there is little concern about drinking water because the rainy season is here.”

This was corroborated by locals in the seaside villages of Pyinsalu and Hlwazar, south of Irrawaddy division’s Laputta. “We are OK now for drinking water after the rain. Lakes are also filled to about one-third of their size. We are just waiting for heavy rain to come so [the lakes] will be completely filled.”

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