Yangon Suffers Water Shortages Amid Rolling Blackouts in Myanmar

By The Irrawaddy 11 March 2022

Yangon residents have been hit by water shortage as daily power outages disrupt lives across Myanmar.

Thingangyun, North Okkalapa, South Okkalapa, North Dagon, South Dagon, East Dagon, Dagon Seikkan and Thaketa townships are facing water shortages and residents are seeking charitable assistance, chairman of the Shin Than Yay (Noble Heart) charity U Tun Tun Oo told The Irrawaddy.

“Water supply has completely halted in some wards for nearly a week. Some residents can’t pump water although they have electricity,” he said.

Residents fetch water from a bowser.

While long and irregular blackouts have made it difficult, especially for high-rise residents, to pump water as some pumping stations cannot operate due to power outages.

Shin Than Yay has been supplying between 14,000 to 25,000 gallons of water per day to areas of Yangon facing shortages, said U Tun Tun Oo.

One North Dagon Township restaurant owner, who requires refrigeration, said: “We can’t pump water because of blackouts. I can’t afford to run a generator the whole day because of fuel price hikes. I have difficulties keeping meat frozen because of blackouts and I have to buy ice.”

He said fuel prices might force him to close with fuel costing over 2,000 kyats (US$1) per liter, meaning it is increasingly costly to use a generator.

The price of water sold by hawkers who fetch supplies from lakes and public taps has increased across Yangon. A 50-gallon barrel has risen from 500-1,000 kyats to 2,000-2,500 kyats, according to a Thaketa resident.

“Water supplies are cut because of frequent blackouts. We have to buy from hawkers. But as prices increase, people face further difficulties,” she said.

Residents fetch water from a bowser.

The municipal body Yangon City Development Committee in 2020 said it supplied around 200 million gallons of water per day to 33 Yangon townships using four reservoirs and groundwater supplies.

However, that only met about 40 percent of Yangon’s demand, with residents using other sources, like artesian wells. An estimated half of the former capital’s water is wasted due to leaks in the aging pipes.

The junta-controlled Ministry of Electricity and Energy has warned about planned 24-hour electricity cuts across the country from Saturday until next Friday. It said high gas prices and damage to the nation’s network of power lines by resistance fighters have caused the blackouts.

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