Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sittwe Residents Suffer Water Shortage

Sittwe (Narinjara): Residents in Sittwe have been suffering from a shortage of water supplied by the municipality since the beginning of summer, said Daw Hla Tin, a leader in Rupa Wra Ward in Sittwe.

"We are now facing a critical condition with the shortage of water. We receive water for only two hours every four days, and it is distributed to all the households in Sittwe by the Municipal authority. It is a big problem for everyone in Sittwe because the supply of water is insufficient for all the people in our city," said Daw Hla. In Sittwe, the capital of Arakan State, there is a single reservoir pond named Kandawgyi that supplies water to the city. The reservoir was built by the British government in 1906 to supply water to the approximately 20,000 residents living in Sittwe at the time.

"As water is short in the pond, the officials reduced the number of times the water is supplied to the town. The pond is now unable to store water for all the people in our city because the population in Sittwe is now over 300,000. We people have to face such a water shortage problem every summer," Daw Hla added.

According to a local resident, many remote wards in Sittwe, including Kyi Pru Wra, Min Gan, Sat Rokya, Nazi Wra, and San Pya, have not received any water since summer started in Arakan.

A young girl from Min Gan said, "I heard water in Kandawgyi is short and the authority has saved water by decreasing the number of times water is supplied. Since then, people in our ward have not been receiving water. Now we use water from tube wells and well waters."

Women in some wards in Sittwe have to line up with water pots every day in the early morning near their local water wells to carry water to home for daily use.

A source from Sittwe said that due to the water shortage, some children from Kyi Pru Wra and Min Ga Wards are suffering from diarrhea but their families can not afford to take them to the hospital for treatment.

The Burmese military authority is aware of the water shortage that happens every summer in Sittwe, but has never tried to make upgrades to help meet the residents' water needs. Arakan State receives over 120 inches of rain every year during the rainy season, but due to poor infrastructure the state faces a water shortage every year during the dry season.

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