Water For Life Brings Clean Water To More Than 7,000 Villagers In Yangon, Myanmar

Yesterday marked the start of a three-year project that will provide better access to clean drinking water for more than 7,000 villagers in the townships of Kaw Hmu and Kungyangon in the Yangon region of Myanmar, two hours from the city of Yangon.

Singapore International Foundation’s (SIF) Water for Life (Yangon) project was launched in a ceremony held in Zee Kone Village, Kaw Hmu Township. The project is the result of SIF’s partnership with non-profit organisation Mingalar Myanmar, and funders Keppel Land Limited (Keppel Land) and Singapore Red Cross. The ceremony was attended by His Excellency Robert Chua, Singapore Ambassador to Myanmar, SIF Chairman

Ms Euleen Goh, Dr Phone Win, Founder of Mingalar Myanmar, Mr Choo Chin Teck, Director, Corporate Services, Keppel Land, Mr Benjamin William, Secretary General, Singapore Red Cross, and officials of the Yangon Regional Government.

Water for Life (Yangon) is the third installation of SIF’s signature project, Water for Life (WFL), which was launched in 2010 in Cambodia. It aims to improve the quality of life in rural villages by providing access to clean drinking water. The project also addresses gaps in the water ecosystem of rural communities, by reducing the incidence of water-borne diseases, improving hygiene and sanitation conditions, and enhancing livelihood opportunities, thereby improving the overall well-being of the community.

In Myanmar, an estimated 70 percent of the population reside in rural areas with limited access to a clean water source and basic health facilities. In 2008, Cyclone Nargis swept through the Ayeyarwady Delta, where Kaw Hmu and Kungyangon are located, destroying villagers’ access to clean water, sanitation, electricity and communication. According to a 2010 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) survey, less than 30 percent of the population in the affected region have access to a safe and convenient drinking water source.

Over the three-year WFL (Yangon) project, 36 tube wells will be installed in the abovementioned two townships, community education programmes on basic hygiene and nutrition will be conducted for villagers, and five rural health centres and two district hospitals will be refurbished. Medical staff at these healthcare facilities will also be trained to provide quality basic healthcare to the communities.

An important aspect of the project is the role played by Singapore International Volunteers (SIVs). The pilot SIV team, who will carry out several of these project activities from April 7 to 11 2013, comprises eight staff members and volunteers from Keppel Land and Singapore Red Cross.

Said SIF’s Ms Goh: “When human beings work with others in the spirit of teamwork, the results are remarkably more impactful than anything we can achieve by ourselves. The SIF has been in Myanmar for the last 18 years, working with different partners here and with Singaporeans to make a positive difference, and now again with this project. Together, we have made Water for Life (Yangon) a reality that will empower the communities in which it is located.”

The SIF’s project partner and sponsors shared their comments:

“Mingalar Myanmar is committed to sustainable economic development in Myanmar beginning at grassroots level. We are honoured to be working alongside the SIF to bring clean drinkable water to the villagers in Kaw Hmu and Kungyangon Townships, who will now be able to enjoy a higher quality of life,” said Dr Phone Win.

Keppel Land’s Mr Choo Chin Teck said: “Keppel Land entered Myanmar in 1993 and through our two hotels – Sedona Hotel Yangon and Sedona Hotel Mandalay – we have provided employment for the local communities and contributed to the country’s economic progress. This is in line with our belief that we should give back to communities where we operate in and improve their quality of lives. Beyond monetary contributions, we are also proud that some of our Keppel Land employees have volunteered time and effort to be part of the Water for Life (Yangon) project. Water for Life will be a regular volunteer programme for staff of Keppel Land and the Keppel Group. Together with other Singapore International Volunteers, I am confident that our efforts will go a long way in providing these villagers clean waters for a healthier living environment.”

Mr Benjamin William, Singapore Red Cross said: “Water for Life (Yangon) is a humanitarian project with lasting impact that exemplifies our mission to improve the lives of vulnerable people. This collaboration truly reflects the spirit of friendship between our countries and our shared hope for a better future.”