Providing life-saving water and sanitation assistance to internally displaced people in Kachin StatePublished: Nov 15, 2022 Reading time: 3 minutes
Thousands of people have been displaced due to decades-long conflict between the Myanmar Armed Forces (MAF) and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA). In addition to conflict, limited livelihood opportunities have further deteriorated living conditions. One of the most urgent needs for people in the region is sustainable access to safe water and improvements to hygiene and sanitation practices.
To address the needs of displaced communities, People in Need (PIN) and our local partner organisation, Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), have implemented a project funded by the Myanmar Humanitarian Fund (MHF) that provides multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH), Education in Emergencies (EiE), non-food items (NFI) distributions, as well as emergency makeshift shelters materials to more than 24,000 displaced people sheltering in camps in Kachin State.
Meeting WASH needs
PIN and KBC have conducted many WASH activities based on continuous needs and gaps assessments undertaken in the targeted IDP camps. For example, to ensure safe access to water sources, KBC renovated thirteen major water sources, provided fuel to 28 sources for water pumping, and conducted water testing to monitor the water sources and identify potential risks. The provision of fuel for water pumping is particularly important, as “fuel prices are increasing every day,” explains Naw Aung (name changed), a WASH volunteer. “We run the water pump two times per day,” he shares.
Throughout the project, PIN and KBC ensure that all activities address the needs of various vulnerable groups, including women, men, boys and girls, and people with disabilities. For instance, latrines and bathing stations for women and girls were purposely installed near the IDP camps to increase their protection. Over 30 commode chairs were distributed to people with disabilities to ensure usability.
Additionally, the team has constructed new emergency latrines and hand-washing stations, renovated existing latrines and septic tanks, and provided solid waste management in the IDP camps. These efforts are co-led by WASH volunteers trained by PIN and KBC staff.
Ko Aung Aung (name changed), a project focal person, explains: “The security and political situation affects our implementation process and access to the target areas. Despite these challenges, we managed to renovate 40 existing latrines in five IDP camps in four townships. These renovated latrines benefited nearly 4,000 people in these camps. We also constructed 72 new emergency latrines with disability-friendly designs. Moreover, KBC hired 54 WASH volunteers in targeted IDP camps, who conducted other WASH-related activities and solved solid waste management problems across 35 camps.”
Good hygiene practice and promoting awareness
PIN has distributed over 1,000 hygiene refill kits and 2,300 menstrual hygiene management refill kits. These kits included essential items, such as laundry and bathing soaps, toothpaste and toothbrushes, sanitary pads, and undergarments. WASH Volunteers have also conducted hygiene promotion sessions, covering good hygiene practices, COVID-19 prevention, and waste management once a month in the targeted IDP camps. In total, 5,421 people benefited from these awareness sessions across five IDP camps, and more than 2,869 women and adolescent girls benefited from these awareness sessions.
Naw Aung adds, “People are gaining knowledge of good hygiene practices and learning where to dispose of their waste to avoid health and environmental risks. We collect waste every Friday and manage a proper disposal system.” He also shares, “to prevent and protect the people from COVID-19 pandemic, we constructed 85 hand washing stations in eight IDP camps to ensure that they follow the hand washing practices in the camps.”
62-year-old Daw Ji Taung (name changed), living in an IDP camp, expressed her gratitude to the PIN and KBC teams: “The relief items they distributed to us are very useful. Especially during this hard time, we are unable to buy products, such as soap and toothpaste and so on. The washing soap is enough for one month; that’s why I can spend more on buying rice and other [things] for our big family.”
*The names of certain individuals and locations have been changed for their protection