Taungtha facing water crisis as wells dry up

The spectre of drought is already hanging over a Mandalay township, where villagers are being forced to pay K50,000 per load of water as their wells dry up.

Taungtha township, Mandalay Region, has been facing water shortages as nearby lakes and wells go dry, said Ko Si Thu, who works with a local youth group supplying water.

Dry conditions not normally experienced until April were noted as early as January, local residents say. “It’s too early for the lakes to dry up,” said Ko Si Thu.

Freshwater wells in most villages have dried up and the main water resource for the town, Bone Sin Dam, has only about 60 centimetres (2 feet) of water left, he said.

The tanker used by the youth group to deliver water can carry only 1600 gallons, forcing many villagers to club together for further deliveries at up to K50,000 each.

“The further villages are from the town the more they have to pay,” he said.

Government attempts to dig wells last year failed, said Ko Si Thu. “Not enough rain came to fill the wells. About 90 percent of them are dry.”

U Thant Zin, a member of the Democratic Party for a New Society, who has toured the villages, said some of the Taungtha wells yielded only undrinkable water that raised blotches on the skin of villagers when they bathed in it. Some of them suffered hair loss.

“They need water that they and their cattle can drink,” he said.

Community-based groups in Taungtha are storing medicines and advising residents to boil water in order to avoid diarrhoea, said Ko Si Thu.

“Last year 32 villages had cases of diarrhoea during water shortages. This year we are preparing medicines in case of a recurrence,” he said.

Taungtha township has a population of 300,000 in 231 villages.

Source: Myanmar Times. Date: 23 February 2016