Water and employment, Myanmar
In this story U Kyaw Soe Lin describes his job as a machinist of the water distribution network in his village and how this job has improved his own income and that of his neighbours who rely on the piped water system. U Kyaw Soe Lin values the other benefits that having a safe piped water system have brought to his family, including improved safety for his wife and daughter who previously fetched water from the river. This Save the Children project is supported by DFAT’s CS WASH Fund.
One of the Village Health Committee Members, U Kyaw Soe Lin, recounted the following story during field monitoring of the CS WASH Fund Project in December 2015.
“I have two family members. I work on a boat that ferries people across the Chin Dwin River. Currently I have taken up part-time the responsibility to operate and maintain the engine house of the water distribution network in my village. Before I took on this responsibility, one of my friends was doing this work. I had some prior experience on how to handle engines and generators, do repairs and maintain minor parts. Since these responsibilities were handed over to me, there have been about three incidences of needing repairs. These incidences were fixing of new spare parts in the engine, generator and control box. Through this experience, I have gained more knowledge and skills related to engine generator operation and am hence becoming a better system manager and operator. Now, I keep the log book for the engine that shows what times the engine is switched on and off, how much oil and fuel is put in the engine at what times, and how much water is pumped in my engine house.”
“I run the engine about three hours per day on average, and VHC is paying me a salary of MMK30,000 (approximately USD30) per month for taking up this responsibility. It is some extra income for me that goes a long way in supporting my family.”
“Now, I am seeing some changes in my village. For example, when the engine was stopped for repairs, most of the villagers were asking me when water distribution would resume, and when we would finish fixing the engine. This shows that the water supply system has made changes in their lifestyles. Some villagers came to observe how I was doing the repairs and volunteered to assist. So, what I am thinking is that the villagers know about the value of clean water and the difficulties related with fetching water from long distance sources that they used to experience in the past. Even for me, in the past, I did not work peacefully on my boat because I had to fetch water for my family from the Chin Dwin River. If I was late home from my work, my children or my wife had to fetch water from the river. Fetching water from the river has risks like slipping, falling and drowning. So, whenever my children or my wife went to fetch the water I always used to worry. Now I do not need to worry about that, because my house has a water tap in the compound, so we can always get clean water very easily and all the time.”