Water on tap makes life flow better in Kayin village

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Khin Mar Win
UNICEF Myanmar/2018/Khin Mar Win
20 March 2018

For as long back as people can remember, the four-kilometer walk to the nearest water supply had a big effect on the life of residents of Pyin Kadoe Kone village in Myanmar’s Kayin State. 

As well as forcing villagers to undertake long hours of hard work carrying water home from the Don Ta Mi river, the lack of a ready water supply meant that open defecation was common around the village, making children and women more vulnerable, especially at night. ‘‘No water = no latrines,” said the village head. 

Grandmother Daw Htwe Yee, 62, welcomed the new pipe system that is now bringing water to the village, and a tap right to her home.

“It has changed our lives. Before, two or three people in my family would have to make the journey to carry water back on hand-carts every day, especially in the dry season,” she said. 

‘Also, it was very unsafe for my daughter to have to bathe four kilometers away. I worried that she would face dangers like being harassed, and I was always relieved when she arrived home safely. It was hard as a mother to live with worries like that, ’’ she added. 

“That’s all gone now.” 

Illness was another result of a lack of a good water supply. Preventable diseases like diarrhea were not uncommon among the farming community, and sickness put a dent on the daily earnings of those affected. Children were especially hit.

UNICEF Myanmar/2018/Khin Mar Win
Ma Aye Nandar Soe and her mother are happy to share their experiences with the new water supply at their home—their wishes were granted!

“I really wanted to stop getting diarrhea. Many of my friends, and myself, got it every year,” said Ma Aye Nandar Soe, the ten-year-old grand-daughter of Daw Htwe Yee.

Everything changed when a joint initiative of the Department of Rural Development (DRD), UNICEF and the villagers themselves introduced the Community Households Managed Water Metering System. The system took a year to complete and each village household contributed 15,000 Myanmar kyat; so the village contributed 40 percent of the total costs.   

“The community’s interest, and their contribution, together with the technical support of DRD, were the main strengths contributing to successful implementation,” said Khin Aung Thein, WASH Officer, UNICEF Myanmar. 

Of 474 villages in Hpa-An Township, only a very few have a similar integrated system arising from a joint venture approach in which the community is fully involved in funding, implementation and maintenance. 

Improvements continue to evolve and emerge. “We love our village even more now, and we are encouraging everyone to build new latrines with accompanying water taps,’’ said a member of the village’s active Water User Committee, one-third of whom are women. 

Villagers are proud of their achievements and the Water User Committee members are very happy to receive guests who come to see their innovations, and perhaps consider following suit.

“There are now three model villages with the system in Hpa-An Township, and the Department of Rural Development aims to replicate it in every township of Karen state,’’ added an official from the department.