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The village of Kyaung Taung in the Inle Lake area in Myanmar sits atop a hill overlooking Heho city. And this hamlet with 80 households has a problem: it is plagued by severe water shortage. The woes of Kyaung Taung do not end here. The village wears a bald look, having lost all its forests.
However, these are not new stories.
Farmer U Nyein Kyaw, 57, recalls people facing severe water shortage in the village ever since he was 20 years old. “Even then people spent hours every day fetching water from Nyaung Kya pond during the dry season,” he says.
According to a village baseline report, Kyuang Taung receives one of the lowest rainfalls in the whole of southern Shan State. And the bad news is that this is declining every year. Some farmers say the water in Nyaung Kya pond is also decreasing by the year.
Farmers attribute water scarcity in Kyaung Taung to increasing population growth and denuded forests. They say many organizations helped them find solutions but none have had lasting results.
According to U Nyein Kyaw, twenty years ago, UNDP supported the village build community tanks. Similarly, the Inle Literature, Culture and Development Association (ILCDA) with UNDP Inle Lake Conservation and Rehabilitation Project provided water tanks and filters in 2012. Today, two new community tanks to harvest rainwater are under construction with support from the EU-funded Himalica Initiative.
It was observed that some tanks require major repairs. If old tanks are repaired and the new ones get running, Kyaung Taung probably would have solved its water problem.
However, U Nyein Kyaw says repairing old tanks and building new ones alone will not solve the problem. “We need to operate the system efficiently,” he says. “And that’s what we didn’t have in the past.”
Now that the village has a permanent water user committee formed early this year, there are hopes that Kyaung Taung will finally have effective water governance. While there is no single model of effective water governance, a system must fit environmental, cultural, social, and economic contexts of the place.
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