Myanmar: WASH in the land of a thousand pagodas

Posted on 15/10/2015 by Harold Lockwood

Myanmar update: WASH in the land of a thousand pagodas

Last month Julia and Harold visited Myanmar as part of on-going technical support provided to
UNICEF under a global programme funded by the UK government’s Department for International
Development.  UNICEF is working with the Department for Rural Development (DRD) and
the Ministry of Health at local government level, as well as a number of national NGOs to
provide piped water supplies with metered household connections and generate demand for
household construction of latrines. These interventions, combined with improved hand-washing
practices, are aimed at improving the lives of some 300,000 in the so-called ‘dry zone’ of
Myanmar.

From our field visits and discussions with key stakeholders it is clear that UNICEF is doing a good
job of working in what is clearly a complex and difficult environment at the operational level. But
what else did we learn about the WASH sector in Myanmar and where is it heading?

Much of this insight came from a very interesting sector Task Force meeting in the new capital of
Nay Pyi Taw in the centre of the country. Despite major gaps in sector policy, a paucity of data
and lack of any formalised regulation, there is a strong vision and drive coming from the very top
of the DRD itself with a target by 2030 of full coverage of household water supply and ‘safe’
sanitation. The country faces many (political) challenges, but has the resources and organisation
to make change happen. We will continue to work with UNICEF in their strategic support to
government and will report back in the months ahead about progress.

 Task Force Meeting, DRD, September 2015

DRD officials deliberate at WASH Sector Task Force meeting, Nay Pyi Taw