Supporting conflict-affected lives in Rakhine State, MyanmarPublished: Apr 13, 2022 Reading time: 5 minutes
In the dry season, access to safe drinking water is a challenge in Rakhine state, with the most vulnerable people in IDP sites.
Through a consortium approach, People in Need (PIN) and its partner organisations, CDN-ZOA and the Community Empowerment and Resilience Association (CERA), have provided life-saving assistance across five townships in central Rakhine State. This assistance provides water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), nutrition, protection, shelter, and non-food item distribution, and camp coordination and camp management activities to more than 35,000 internally displaced people (IDPs).
IDPs face hardship accessing safe drinking water in the dry season
In the dry season, access to safe drinking water is a challenge in Rakhine state, with the most vulnerable people in IDP sites. To confront this challenge, PIN, and its partner organisations have provided emergency water trucking to cover the water shortages in IDP sites. We have also distributed water storage tanks, LifeStraw and Sawyer water filters, and other water treatment solutions to over 16,000 people in the IDP sites in Mrauk-U, Minbya, Kyauktaw and Ponnagyun townships.
Ko Zaw Moe, CERA’s Emergency WASH Project Officer, notes that “CERA is mainly targeted to the Ponnagyun area, where there remain acute needs of safe drinking water in the dry season. Many people must walk nearly half a mile to get access to water. That’s why we provide water twice a day through water trucking to two IDP sites of Ben Bew and A Htet Myat Hlay in Ponnagyun township. In addition, we also constructed two rainwater collection tanks in each IDP site according to the site needs to harvest for rainwater storage or to store the water.”
“we distributed hygiene kits and its refill kits to nearly 300 households and cover more than 2,200 people in Ponnagyun township. We provided soap, soap powder, carbolic, toothpaste, sanitary pads, and Dettol for each household. Together with the hygiene kits distribution, CERA has conducted hygiene promotion awareness sessions at affected IDP sites. Furthermore, we constructed additional five double units latrines and renovated the existing latrines in the camps” says Zaw.
Daw Ma Than Sein, a 50-year-old Myro woman, who is also the head of her household, and has five family members, is now sheltering at A Htet Myat Hlay IDP site in Ponnagyun township. She originally comes from Tae Wa village in Kyauktaw township. “We arrived here in 2019 when fighting escalated near our village. We face livelihood difficulties in the camp. However, international organisations provide household kits and necessary items to us. The World Food Programme (WFP) provides us with 17,000 kyats per person monthly. With these supports, we can survive living here.” She says, “We thank PIN and CERA, they renovated the existing latrines in the camp before we could not use them, and the distributed water is much appreciated. Because, during the dry season, we have concerns about water scarcity, and it is hard to get access to it.”
Ensuring access to hygiene kits and hygiene promotion sessions
With support from PIN, CERA conducted a hygiene awareness promotion together with community volunteers in the IDP sites. Nearly a thousand people benefited from the hygiene awareness promotion. The participants gained knowledge of water hygiene, food hygiene, hand washing and latrine hygiene. In addition, they learned about menstrual hygiene management for conflict-affected women and girls in IDP sites.
U Hla Tun and Daw Hla Thar Nu, a couple with three children live in A Htet Myat Hlay IDP site in Ponnagyun township, stating, “We had lack of knowledge on hygiene practices. Previously, we went near the forest for latrine use. But while we are on the site, we cannot go through it. As we followed the hygiene awareness from CERA, we learned how to clean water and food and use the latrines. During the dry season, we faced a water problem. But PIN, its donors and CERA provide enough water through water trucking. We collect the water and use it for our family. Thanks very much for it.”
Ma Tin Tin Lei, PIN’s Project Manager, explains: “Drastically, water shortages in the dry season are more consequential to the people who live in the displacement sites in Rakhine State. To cover the seasonal water shortages in Mrauk U, Minbya, Kyauktaw and Ponnagyun townships, PIN, CDN-ZOA and CERA supported water trucking with an average of around 11 litres per person per day. And we distributed water storage tanks and household water filters to get clean drinking water as implemented in approaches by the consortium partners.”
Tin Lei adds, “Through the household water filter and water treatment solutions, PIN and CERA distributed sawyer water filters to more than 300 households in Ponnagyun township alone. Regarding water quality testing by PIN, we recommend boiling the water from ponds to avoid water-borne diseases. However, with the LifeStraw and Sawyer water filters, people can access safe drinking water.”
Moreover, PIN provided integrated and inclusive assistance through constructing gender and disability segregated latrines, child-friendly hand washing stations, and female bathing stations. We also provided water pipe installation, water tanks, water filters, drainage, water treatment and water supply by water trucking to targeted IDP sites in Mrauk U, Minbya, Kyauktaw and Ponnagyun townships in Central Rakhine State.
Daw Soe Nu Yee lives in Pu Zun Hpe displacement site in Mrauk U township. “With support from PIN, we are drinking water through the water filters every day. In this year, the water in the ponds rapidly declined, and we cannot get enough for both host communities and ourselves. That is why we thank PIN for distributing water so that we can reduce the cause of water-borne diseases. I attended the hygiene awareness sessions by community volunteers at the sites and shared the knowledge I learned with my family and neighbours. We are living with assistance from international organisations and donors, as we still cannot go back to our village. No one knows when we can go back home. At that moment, we thank PIN and its donors for supporting us.”
People in Need (PIN) worked together through a consortium with CDN-ZOA and CERA, with financial support from Myanmar Humanitarian Fund (MHF) and hygiene kits distribution from UNICEF to bring relief to conflict-affected populations in Central Rakhine State.