A month ago, project MYA/002 launched its very first activity in 5 villages of the mountainous 5 Tract area in the township of Keng Tung, Eastern Shan State, Myanmar. These 5 villages were selected for their priority needs with regard to water. Under the project’s Result 1, the outcome is to provide the villages in the target area with access to safe and affordable water. This will be achieved by constructing a 5 000 gallon (approx. 20 000 liters) water tank as per the standards of the Department of Rural Development under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation. From this main tank, the water will be distributed to secondary water tanks and from those a door-to-door system will ensure that each household has a water tap at their doorstep.
Preparing the ground for the foundation
The village of Che Nar Dea, the most remote and difficult to access of the five selected villages, does not have a water tank and the villagers have to walk downhill for at least 20 minutes to the nearest small spring to fill their cans and carry them back uphill again. As one can imagine, a lot of energy has to be put in to cover the daily water needs for drinking, cooking, washing, watering the vegetable garden and maintaining livestock.
Fetching one's water for the day
The joy was great when the villagers were informed that they would be the beneficiaries of a water tank and a door-to-door water distribution system through project MYA/002. However, it was made clear that this activity would also require support from the village as well. It was agreed that the villagers would collect sand from the river (and this time they had to walk for 30 minutes one way), provide big rocks for the foundation, gather a daily crew of at least 5 villagers to work hand in hand with the masonry team during the construction period, including the digging of a 4-mile-long ditch in which the water pipes from the water source to the water tank will be buried. The village also provides accommodation and cooked rice to the masonry team of three skilled workers. All of this was also agreed upon in the other selected villages.
Sand and rocks collected by villagers
Collecting water for the construction
The project provided all of the construction material. A total of 49 truck loads carrying between 3 and 5 tons of materials were used to deliver the construction material to the different locations. To build a single 5 000-gallon water tank, one needs up to 8 000 bricks, 3 tons of gravel, 150 bags of cement, 60 iron reinforcement bars, 30 metal roofing sheets and so on. In the specific case of Che Nar Dea and because of the deplorable condition of the track, the initial 5-ton truck loads had to be dropped off and reloaded on to a 2-ton truck which made the journey 10 times, breaking down twice.
Slowly making their way up the hill
Rough riding makes for tough luck
The MYA/002 project team knew that only with an exemplary participation from each village was the water tank activity going to be a successful.
Everyone lent a hand or two
Although the projected suggested to have only 5 helping workers a day, the villagers were eager to participate
Each of the 5 villages lived up to the task: sand, rocks and water were provided, wood was cut from the community forest, villagers organized turns in cooking for the masonry crews, they showed up every day to help with the construction and learned some basic masonry skills – all of this whilst also having to plough their fields. Even when the tracks had to be improved and trucks pulled out of ditches or up the hill, the villagers were there to help. They truly showed ownership and willingness to provide whatever support they could give.
Now, one month later and nearing the finalization of the construction of the 5 tanks, the team is very impressed with the outcome and is looking forward to the installation of the door-to-door water distribution system.
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