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Enthusiastic villagers working for their village development

"Our village of 212 households is not far from Myingyan. Some sections of the road from our village to Myingyan are made of earth. This earthen part of the road is near our village. The earthen road is silty earth and erodes very easily. In rainy season it becomes a troublesome road even for a motorbike. At the edge of the village and beside the above mentioned access road there is a well with roof. That is our only one drinking water source. The whole village depends on that well for drinking water.

It is true there are also plenty of hand dug wells in the village. Since our village have very high ground water table, even shallow wells can bring up water. There are over one hundred hand dug wells and several hand-pump tube wells. Hand dug well depth is about 15 feet to 30' depth. Shallow tube wells in village also take surface water like hand dug wells. Their depths are about 45 feet. But the quality of water in those dug wells and tube wells is not good. The water is brackish. If you boil it to make plain tea, then it becomes salty as well. It is not good water; in fact we have to say it is bad. Even a cow hardly drinks that water! In dry season we have to buy drinking water from sellers. They use troller-gyi (trailer-jeep) to carry water from Ayeyarwaddy River. The cost for that drinking water is 100 kyats for six gallons.

UN-Habitat carried out a village action plan (Community Action Plan) exercise at the end of June, 2012. This meeting has helped improve our villagers' enthusiasm to work with the Shae Thot Project. It has also helped increase villagers' motivation. As our ponds are very big and badly damaged, we were afraid to work with the ponds and put pond renovation as fifth priority in the priority list. But after drawing up the village action plan, villagers changed their minds and decided to do pond renovation first, even though this work load is a big burden for them.

Villagers finished the most difficult parts of the work within days. The community grants mechanism helped increase not only our committee members' motivation but also the villagers' interest in community works.

Villagers finished the most difficult parts of the work within days. The community grants mechanism helped increase not only our committee members' motivation but also the villagers' interest in community works. Satisfaction builds up in our mind just gazing at that renovated pond. Not only because of the pond is filled with drinking water but also because it looks very beautiful in our eyes.

Pond dimension before renovating was 200x100x 6' and now it is 300x125'x 12'. We had been using this pond for long a time and it usually dried up in February. But we think it will hold water up to April- maybe even all year round! We renovated this pond to avoid drinking water trouble. Now we are successful. Our calculation says we can get 112 barrels of water for each household because the storage capacity of the pond has doubled.

In addition we have another three contracts with UN-Habitat: to make 26 Bio-sand filters, 40 household latrines and we are going to build 3000 feet of earth road. The total amount for all 4 contracts is 9,907,000 kyat. This is a very big amount of money.

You see over there, beside the pond embankment. That is the road we are going to renovate in cooperation with UN-Habitat. We have already renovated that road beside the embankment while renovating the pond.

Not only the villagers but also our committees and elders feel motivated by the Shae Thot Project. Now we are finding ways to maintain this pond after project completion. We will try our best to maintain our pond and sustain our 'village development committees' by holding regular meetings and planning for our village water resources management. That is our idea. If you have any other idea to strengthen our development, then please share that idea with us.

Please pass our best wishes to UN-Habitat and USAID. Because of this development work, our village has some sort of picture about why humanitarian organizations are working, how they are working and about why social groups are needed for development. We cannot do this much work with our own capacity. Because of your grant, villagers are mobilized. That is why we finished the pond in such a short time".

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