Water Shortage Hits Hpakant Village

Hpakant jade mine, Kachin State

Locals are concerned their water supply is draining into nearby jade mines, which are six times deeper than the community’s wells.

People in a Hpakant Township village say that this year’s dry season water shortage is worse than previous years, and locals are blaming the area’s jade mining industry.

The village in question is Maw Wan Kalay, a community of more than 700 residences where wells are about 70 feet deep. However, nearby jade mines run up to 450 feet deep, and villagers are concerned that their water supply is draining into the mines.

“Usually a little water remains in the well at this time of the year, but the water is totally gone this year,” one local told KNG on the condition of anonymity. “We can buy drinking water, but there is no water for other uses. Jade mining companies currently pump water from the site and distribute water part of the time. So we have to wait for the water distribution—if we miss it, we don’t get water. And even if we get it, it’s not enough,” he said on Tuesday, adding that no water had been pumped that day.

Labang Shing Rip, a 10-household head, told KNG that the community was looking into pumping water from the N’mai Hka stream using two machines in the coming days.

This is the fourth year that Maw Wan Kalay has faced a water shortage, but that the issue intensifies each year. The village administration also contributes to water distribution, but as with the water given by the mining companies, locals say it is not enough to meet their needs.

Village authorities, elders, locals and companies are preparing to build a reservoir in which water could be stored, but it will cost more than 100 million kyat (US$65,500) and the construction will take time, making it a long-term rather than immediate solution.