Villages in Myanmar help build better access to clean water

woman with water tap
Clean water from a tap set up near her house reduces the hours Daw Kim Ma Di must work to fetch water from a river. (Photo: UNDP in Myanmar)

The sound of cuckoos cooing may bring to mind summer, when this bird song is common in Myanmar. But Daw Kim Ma doesn’t like the sound, which reminds her of hot weather.

Due to water shortages, summer used to be the least favorite season for villagers in Sin Owe Wa, situated along the Kaladan River. Villagers fetch water for cooking and drinking from the river, the only nearby water source. Although it is an important water source for the villagers, the river’s water has frequently caused health problems.


  • UNDP’s CDRT project has supported 57 villages in Paletwa Township, Myanmar, to improve their water supply
  • Water, sanitation and hygiene have been improved for 2,140 households – more than 10,000 people
  • The project is supported by Denmark, the UK, Australia and the European Commission

So the villagers organised a community meeting and proposed that UNDP’s Community Development for Remote Township (CDRT) project support the building of gravity-flow water supply system in two villages.

“We know there is a water source close to our neighboring village, Vwee Chaung Wa, and we realised that the source can supply adequate water for both villages,” said Daw Kim Ma Di.

The villagers could not build the water supply system on their own, so they requested UNDP provide funds and technology, while the community provided labour. Water taps were set up in both villages so that households could access potable water.

“Establishing taps in our village has made our lives easier and helped us to devote more for other family activities,” Daw Kim Ma Di said. She said a common fund was also established with contributions from all households in order to maintain the water supply system in the long run.

Availability of clean water is rare in Paletwa Township, situated in a mountainous region of Myanmar. Local people frequently fall sick, as water-borne diseases are common in such isolated and remote areas. UNDP has been assisting communities to identify safe water sources and supply systems that are suitable to local geographical and climatic conditions.

 Communities are supported to improve their drinking-water through  constructing and renovating gravity-flow water supply systems, water wells, ponds, rain-water collection tanks, compressor tube wells and  water-filtered pots.

The UNDP’s CDRT project so far has supported 57 of 372 villages in Paletwa Township to improve water, sanitation and hygiene, benefitting 2,140 households or 10,471 people. Additionally, 79 villages in five townships from Northern Chin State (Tonzang, Tiddim, Falam, Htantlan and Hakha) are being supported to construct gravity-flow water supply systems and wells.