Residents of Mae La Refugee Camp suffering from water shortages were relieved when heavy rain drenched the region this week.
This year’s dry season has caused Mae La refugees’ additional hardship as their water sources dried out and camp residents faced severe water shortages during April and May. Camp officials told Karen News that this year was the worst drought they had experienced.
Saw K’paw Htoo, a member of Mae La camp’s water supply committee said water sources quickly ran out due to the hot weather and the increased use of people using private pipes to siphon water from the main water sources in the camp.
Speaking to Karen News Saw K’paw Htoo said.
“This year was hot and our water sources, that we get water from upstream almost dried out. This has caused water shortages for the camp residents. It is worse than in the past years. During the last few weeks, we can only manage to run water for a limited period of time during the day. We are now negotiating with small private water suppliers to shut down their operation so we can provide more water to camp residents.”
According to camp sources in an attempt to cope with the water shortage, camp officials are building a water tank that would be capable of holding enough water for nine days for the whole camp. Camp officials would also negotiate for the reduction in the number of small private water suppliers.
Camp residents told Karen News that the water shortages caused conflict among the refugee community, as they had to fight to get water. Camp residents who witnessed and experienced the conflict confirmed to Karen News that quarrels often broke out in the community because of the fight for the limited water supplies.
Naw Eh Paw Wah, a Mae La resident in section 3 of Zone B spoke to Karen News about the water shortage problems.
“We are facing difficulties washing and cooking because of a lack of water. Some people even fought. We want the camp officials responsible to try to make the water supply to run as usual.”
Mae La Refugee Camp is 60 Kilometers north of Mae Sot in Tak Province and is home to more than 40,000 refugees. Camp residents said that they face water shortage problems every year during the dry season – camp officials claim that this year has been the worst.