Rural water supply
Provision of safe and affordable water supply services for all to save lives
Myanmar’s rural areas have lagged behind urban centres in accessing safe and affordable water supply services, with negative effects on survival and health, especially of children under age five.
Myanmar is one of the few countries in the ASEAN where the number of city-dwellers that that do not have access to improved water sources has increased over the past two decades.
While 70 per cent of households nationwide have access to improved water sources that are protected from contamination, in rural areas the figure is only 62 per cent.
A third of rural homes, including 5 million children, lack improved water supplies, census data shows.
Children living in low-lying coastal areas of Ayeyarwady, Rakhine and Tanintharyi regions, as well as children in Shan State, are particularly vulnerable to disruptions in their access to safe water. The lack of access to quality water and sanitation is a significant contributor to lower health, nutrition and mortality outcomes in rural areas, where poverty is also higher than in urban centres.
Water supply provision in Myanmar has been heavily focused on short term, infrastructure projects with limited consideration for longer term management and financing. There is recognized need for investment in better planning to ensure that sustainable water supply services in communities, schools and health facilities are delivered as long-term services, where accountabilities for operation and maintenance costs are properly defined, budgeted for and supported technically.
Myanmar faces a considerable challenge to scale up national and regional responses to providing effective WASH services, if it is to achieve its targets in this area under the Sustainable Development Goals.
Myanmar has taken an important step with the launch of the first National Strategy and Investment Plan (2016-2030) for rural water, sanitation and hygiene in 2017, with UNICEF support.
UNICEF advocates for increased budgets and resources for the sector, and our input into planning and implementation is helping ensure that the needs of the especially vulnerable – children, women, and those with disabilities – are at the forefront of new rural WASH initiatives. These include community-managed household water-metering systems that are bringing water on tap to thousands of homes in a cost effective and sustainable manner.
UNICEF is supporting the Government to strengthen national and regional capacity in planning, budgeting, coordination and monitoring in order to build an effective, sustainable national response in order to achieve national targets and fulfil targets under the Sustainable Development Goals. We are also supporting the search for technological innovations and research that will also contribute to ensuring sustainable solutions for all vulnerable communities, especially in areas that are hard to reach.