Burma

630,000 Without Adequate Potable Water as Summer Temps Soar

By Lei Lei 26 April 2019

YANGON—Ten of 14 regions and states are currently suffering from shortages of drinking water due to rising summer temperatures, according to the Rural Water Supply Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation.

Day temperatures across the country have reached over 40 degrees Celsius on average, climbing to 46 degrees Celsius in some parts of central Myanmar.

According to the department, more than 630,000 people from 208 villages in 93 townships in Kayah, Mon, Rakhine and Shan states, and Sagaing, Bago, Magwe, Mandalay and Irrawaddy regions and Naypyitaw are facing a scarcity of drinking water.

In previous years, only central Myanmar faced drinking water shortages, but this year, water scarcities have also been reported in Irrawaddy Region and Shan State, said veteran meteorologist U Tun Lwin.

“Taking a look at the current situation, the area facing water scarcity has broadened and the time [when shortages usually occur] has come earlier,” he said.

“There are two causes that can lead to water scarcity in Myanmar. One is rising temperatures and another is deforestation. These two factors can cause water scarcity. Previously, Myanmar had the fourth richest sources of ground water in Southeast Asia,” said U Tun Lwin.

Pindaya, Kalaw and Nyaungshwe townships in southern Shan State are also facing water scarcity.

“Some of the villages in those townships started facing water scarcity some five years ago, mainly due to deforestation. They fail to maintain water sources,” said Ko Aung San, a member of a local community-based organization supplying water to those townships.

“Temperatures are higher this year. Water sources have dried up more quickly due to high temperatures, and there is therefore a shortage of water,” said U Khin Aung of Kanbawza Brighter Future Myanmar Foundation which is supplying water in southern Shan State.

An ethnic Lahu village in Mong Nai Township in southern Shan State is also facing water shortages.

Municipal authorities in Yangon have urged Yangon residents to be economical with water usage. The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement has also established a hotline at which people can seek help for drinking water requirements.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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