IDP Returnees Now Facing Water Shortage

Formerly displaced people who returned to their home village of Nam San Yang in Kachin State’s Waingmaw Township three months ago are now experiencing a new hardship—a lack of drinking water.

The villagers—who spent eight years in IDP camps in Myitkyina and Waingmaw after being forced to flee clashes between the Burma Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA)—returned in March only to find that their wells had dried out.

“They have just returned from the IDP camps and are still using their old wells after cleaning them. But there is no water in them during the dry season and we can’t dig new ones for them,” Hpaula Gam Hpang, a well-known Kachin singer-songwriter who has been working to assist the returnees, told KNG.

He added that the villagers can use water from a nearby creek for bathing and cleaning, but still need access to safe drinking water.

The problem is not only affecting the villagers’ immediate situation, he said. It is also slowing down the process of rebuilding the village after its inhabitants’ eight-year absence.

“Laborers who are fixing the school and building places to live also need water,” said Hpaula Gam Hpang.

“Some NGOs have come to Nam San Yang to observe the situation here, but so far there have been no updates from them,” he added.

The singer, who met with Kachin State’s minister for social affairs in Myitkyina on Monday, said the state government promised to inspect the village to assess the needs of those living there.

The state government, together with the Burma Army, started arranging for the return of the former IDPs from their camps in Waingmaw and Myitkyina late last year.

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