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Drought reaches Karenni State for first time in memory

A dry well in Karenni State (Photo: Saw Daniel / DVB)

The drought that is hitting many parts of Burma this year has reached a region that rarely lacks for water — Karenni State, where local people says their wells are drying up for the first time in living memory.

Saw Daniel, a resident of the state capital Loilkaw, told DVB that locals have been facing water shortages since the beginning of April, as the unusually hot summer weather continues to take hold and leaves a growing number of wells without a drop of water.

“We are experiencing water shortages in many areas across the town. Areas without tube-wells are completely dried up, as they are the only available source of water at the moment,” he said.

“There a lot of fairly deep wells around my area, but they have all dried up. This has never happened here before this year,” he added.

He said that sympathetic locals have provided some relief to those hit by the drought, but not all affected areas can be reached. In some cases, he said, people are paying up to 3,000 kyat (US$2.60) for a barrel of water, but even then, the supply is not enough to meet everyone’s needs.

“Most of the relief is focused on the Padanyin, Chike and Nuababo areas, so residents in our part of town have to pay [water fetchers] between 2,500-3,000 kyat for a barrel of water from the Belu Creek, but they aren’t always able to deliver.”

Khin Sithu, the chairperson for the Karenni State chapter of the ruling National League for Democracy and a lawmaker in the parliament’s lower house, said the party is providing relief in affected areas but missed some due to a lack of information.

“In order for us to provide help, residents in the affected villages must inform us about their situation and where they are so that we can reach to them,” she said.

Loikaw, Demoso and Hpasaung townships are among the areas affected by the drought.