Water Shortages, Rising Petrol Prices, Summer Heat Adds to Hardships Facing Returning Refugees and Displaced Residents of Lay Pha Htaw Village

Rises in petrol prices and extreme heat is causing residents of Lay Pha Htaw village problems extracting water from underground wells.

The villagers during hot and dry summers their water supply needs to be pumped by generators. Lay Pha Htaw community leaders said the hot weather has created water shortages since the end of monsoon season and they have had to pump and distribute water to villagers.

Mahn Aung Pwint, a Lay Pha Htaw village community leader explained to Karen News.

“A litre of petrol now costs 35 baht. It costs us around 300 to 400 baht to use the generator each day. When we deliver water, it is delivered to two sections. That would cost us seven more liters of petrol for each section. If it costs us that much every day, we cannot afford it. We only have one generator left for us as the other one was broken. Some people cannot afford to pay for their water supply, so they need to fetch water from nearby wells and lakes.

Villagers rely on four underground boreholes for water. The capacity of borehole water has reduced and some have dried out. Villagers say some generators relied on for pumping water have been damaged, and now the rising cost of fuel has made it financially difficult to continue running them.

Saw Poe Thar Lay relies on the bores for water supply and said for most of the year he experiences water problems.

“We don’t have enough equipment to draw water when there is water shortage. It’s time consuming when we have to [also] work for our living. When water is available, it is only available for about an hour. Once the dry season starts, the water shortage happens. It’s only around May and June when the rainy season starts that we can get enough water. Once the dry season starts water is often cut off. If we don’t get enough water, it’s very difficult for us.”

Lay Pha Htaw village was established five years ago and funded by Japan’s Nippon Foundation as low-cost housing for returning refugees from the Thai-Burma border camps as well as displaced people in the areas.

Many of Lay Pha Htaw’s residents returned from the Nu Po and Ban Don Yan refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border, these people still struggle to make a living because of the current political situation and covid-19 restrictions.

Lay Pha Htaw villagers said water shortages have meant as many as 350 households are without water for cooking and drinking. To get water means they have to travel far from where they live, making it hard and difficult for elderly people.

Daw Nan Phyu Pyar Wai, explains that without transport the difficulties for villagers trying to source and then carrying water back to the village.

“It is difficult. We have many families here.Toilets use a lot of water and cannot be flushed with just a small amount of water. When there is no water, it is even more difficult. The people who face the biggest problems are families without motorcycles. I can use a tricycle that I have. Some elderly [people] find it difficult. Since this area is arid, it is very difficult for us when we don’t have water. When we use the generator to pump water, we need to buy petrol. The generator might be broken. It is difficult for us to afford petrol. Even when we go and collect the fee from the houses, some families can’t afford to contribute.”

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