The Jaggery Trader

Ko Hmat Kyi, 46, is a small business owner in Tetma village, located in the Dry Zone of Myanmar. He supports his family through his palm tree and vegetable plantations. To make enough jaggery for trading, he has to climb 30 tall palm trees twice a day using a basic ladder made from two tall bamboos.

The sugary sap is collected using a number of small earthen jars. After that, the liquid is mixed into a large pot, boiled and stirred until it thickens to a paste. The worker would then knead the product into small chunks which hardens after being cooled. Inside the rudimentary kitchen where the jaggery is prepared, the air is hot, dense and sweet.

In the past, Ko Hmat Kyi had no choice but to send his eldest son to fetch water in the day as his time was fully occupied with his jaggery business. To get clean water, his son often had to travel to a neighbouring village and queue for two to three hours to wait for his turn at the tube well or hand pump. This also meant that on days when he went to collect water, he would have to miss school.

Ko Hmat Kyi and his family

Things got better for Ko Hmat Kyi’s family in 2016. In partnership with Myanmar Engineering Society (MES), Lien AID completed a pilot project in Myanmar, enabling villagers in Tetma village to gain better access to clean water via a solar-powered, gravity-fed water distribution system.

Ko Hmat Kyi told us that better access to clean water has not only made life more convenient for his family, but it also led to an improvement in the school grades of his eldest son. He was able to pass his university entrance exams and now studies at a university in the city of Yangon.

Read more about our pilot project in Myanmar here.

Better access to affordable clean water no longer a pipe dream for 1,800 villagers in Myanmar

Earlier this year, we shared the progress of our pilot clean water project in Tetma village, Mandalay region, Myanmar. In partnership with Myanmar Engineering Society (MES), this project aims to create better access to affordable clean water for more than 1,800 villagers.

Tetma village is located in the dry zone in Myanmar and experiences low annual rainfall. When we first visited this area in 2014, we saw the importance of clean water to the villagers – especially in terms of livelihood, and their daily challenges to get access to clean water. Families typically start their day with a walk of up to an hour to fetch eight to 10 gallons of clean water from a well for personal use and their production of jaggery (honey and candy) for trade. The amount of jaggery produced is dependent on the amount of clean water that families can collect in time, before the local tradesman collect their products daily.

Women in Tetma village making jaggery (honey and candy) for trade

Women in Tetma village making jaggery (honey and candy) for trade

Handover of completed pilot clean water project to Tetma village on 12 June 2016

Under the pilot clean water project, a solar-powered and gravity-fed piped water distribution system was extended from an existing tube well to eight water points at six surrounding hamlets (small rural settlements with a small population), bringing access to clean water closer to the homes.

New water tower and storage tank

New water tower and storage tank

The local Water Management Committee (WMC) was trained to manage and monitor the new water distribution system, while workshops were conducted for both the WMC and local villagers to increase awareness on best practices in health and hygiene.

Since the completion of the system in April 2016, villagers shared that it has reduced walking distances and saved time on water collection. Some of them have been able to collect more water for their personal use and jaggery production with the reduced walking distance and lower cost.

Villagers collecting water at one of the water points

Villagers collecting water at one of the water points

We handed over the project to the village authorities at an official ceremony graced by Ministers and General Attorney from the Mandalay Regional Government, district administrators and villagers on 12 June 2016.

Lien AID Chairman Mr Michael Sim with local authorities at the official handover ceremony

Lien AID Chairman Mr Michael Sim with local authorities at the official handover ceremony

The completion of this pilot project in the Mandalay region marks Lien AID’s first step in enabling clean water access for Myanmar’s rural communities. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the outcomes of this project for the next two years. Moving forward, we are also studying the feasibility of piloting clean water projects in the Ayeyarwady region, bringing the gift of clean water to more rural communities in Myanmar.

Learn more about Myanmar’s water woes and our focus areas here.