Keywords: water insecurity, climate change, preparedness, public health, IDPs
The Rohingya IDPs in the Pauktaw Township in Rakhine State (Myanmar) suffer annual potable water scarcity during the dry season into early rainy season. Due to hydrogeology, with surface brackish water and sea water intrusion, the area’s main water source is rainwater collected in ponds. Due to water loss, linked to seepage and evaporation, the ponds go dry 3-months a year, impeding meeting the minimum humanitarian standards during water scarcity period, and water is boated in to fill the gaps.
This is a costly intervention, easily disrupted and not financially sustainable. Moreover, water supplied is limited, impacting personal hygiene, including menstrual hygiene, and public health, creating the conditions for diffusion of skin infections, COVID-19, acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) etc. Climate change is starting to exacerbate these issues, as sea level rise threatens to flood low lying camps, increases saltwater intrusion and makes rainy season unpredictable.
Considering the upcoming season of water scarcity in Pauktaw and the need for coordinated efforts to ensure continuation of water supply, as a life-saving action, it is shared below with relevant stakeholders the summary of the trend of water consumption and forecasted date of the start of the emergency response, based on our software to monitor and analyse each pond’s available water, together with the user numbers, and actual water consumption and losses, to predict scarcity timing and plan water boating for Rohingya settlements of Pauktaw township where Solidarités International is the main WASH service provider.
Together with water boating, the response provided by Solidarités International includes a gradual reduction of water consumption to 7.5 litres/person/day, and a decrease of water points to ration distribution to delay the start of water boating. In addition, water conservation behavioural change messaging is provided to IDPs. To save freshwater, brackish water is used in public handwashing stations.