15 Sep 2020 - Source: Myanmar Times - Myanmar people have better access to clean drinking water and flush toilets, according to a government survey.

The 2019 census, conducted by the Ministry of Labour Immigration and Population, found that 82 percent of households had access to clean drinking water, while 91.4pc had access to hygienic toilets.

The survey results, released on August 31, defined clean drinking water as coming from protected sources, free of contamination, such as from pipelines, ground water, protected wells or springs, rainwater and purified water.

It said that the remaining 18 percent of households got their water from rivers, dams, ponds, canals, water distribution drains, or other sources.

Daw Khine Khine Soe, director of the Department of Population, said it was the first time that safely managed water and sanitation indicators had been included in the census.

She said pipe water usage had increased from 9pc to almost 17pc, and purified water had increased from 10pc to 22pc.

"Total improved water usage rose from 72pc in 2014 to 82pc in 2019," she added. Usage of flush toilets increased from 74pc to 85pc."

Daw Khine Khine Soe said the number of households with no toilet declined to 5pc in 2019 from 14.4pc in 2014.

The 2014 census said that Myanmar's access to improved sanitation slightly exceeded the Southeast Asian regional average of 72pc.

In the country's states and regions, Yangon reported the highest access rate (91.1pc) and Rakhine the lowest (31.8pc), the census found.

It noted that while there may have been significant progress in access to potable water and sanitation, much remains to be done to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030.

Water, sanitation and hygiene urgently need to be prioritised globally, according to Olga Ghazaryan, director of international programmes for Water Aid. "Water, sanitation and hygiene are fundamental to all aspects of human development," she said, adding it is also critical to public health.

According to Water Aid, an international non-profit organisation working to ensure access to clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene, around 310,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation.

The 2019 census, conducted from November 2019 to February 2020, focussed on conventional households, not institutions.