Source: The Myanmar Times
Date: 23 March 2018
Singapore's Lien AID has been improving the health and well-being of remote communities in Asia by providing potable water and sanitation since 2006. The charity has been able to mobilise funds and technical skills to be able to deliver drinking water and sanitation services to 2800 villages, 270 schools and 50 health centres in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, alleviating the hardships of nearly 1 million people. Lien AID chief executive Koh Lian Hock talks to The Myanmar Times about its programmes in the country. Below are excerpts of the interview:
What are the plans of Lien AID to contribute to Myanmar's water needs?
In Myanmar, we will continue to partner with local governments to empower and equip community leaders with the necessary knowledge and skills to improve safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) access in the villages, as well as work on fostering institutional collaboration among governmental and non-governmental partners to meet Myanmar's 2030 WASH Goals.
Where will the projects be implemented and what are the reasons behind the choice of locations?
We are currently focused on the Ayeyarwady Region in Myanmar and we are also exploring potential intervention in Shan State.
Ayeyarwady has the largest rural population in Myanmar at 86%. A significant number of people remain near or under the poverty line, and still lack access to safe water and sanitation.
What is the timeline for your projects?
While we cannot give an exact timeline of our projects, we are planning to launch projects across Bogale and Myaungmya townships this year.
What are the goals you intend to achieve through the projects?
Our goal is to improve the health and well-being of last-mile communities in Asia by enabling sustainable access to clean water and sanitation. We envision a day where access to clean water and sanitation becomes a reality for everyone.
Which approach will you apply to reach your goals?
We believe the problem of sustaining access to clean water for the rural communities must be a collective effort, and that is why we are working in close partnership with governments, corporations, individuals, non-profits and academia, to develop new outreach initiatives, pilot new technology and increase the impact of our programmes.
We also hope to focus more on public education and advocacy campaigns in the countries we work in, to galvanise governments, communities and businesses to take action to accelerate safe WASH access.
How many people would benefit from Lien AID projects?
While we are unable to give an estimate of the number of people who would benefit, we aim to help rural villages in at least 10 communities in Myanmar this year.
Last year, we launched a new pilot initiative in Myanmar covering five villages across three townships – Labutta, Myaungmya and Bogale in Ayeyarwady, which enabled an estimated 3866 villagers to gain improved access to clean water.
Who are the relevant stakeholders in pursuing effective clean water initiatives?
The key stakeholders in accelerating WASH access include the local government, local and international NGOs, civil society groups, grassroots groups such as village development committees, and water management committees, as well as external partners who can contribute expertise and financing options.
How would you assess the need for clean water in Myanmar?
We identify the needs of rural communities in Myanmar through township DRD (Department of Rural Development) officers and local community leaders, who are directly responsible for and vested in the provision of clean water to their communities.
Which areas of Myanmar should be given priority access to clean water?
As the long-term sustainability of clean water is determined to a large degree by the level of local ownership, Lien AID will prioritise efforts in areas where local governments and communities demonstrate a commitment to actively participate in the intervention.