Rohingyas in Rakhine Face Difficulty Accessing Clean Water Due to Drought

When the prolonged dry season has come, Rohingyas in Rakhine, Myanmar, also face a severe water crisis. They can only rely on dirty river water to meet their water needs.

Rohingya Crisis.
A portrait of Rohingya IDPs in Rakhine. (IRC/Kaung Htet)

ACTNews, SITTWE – Approximately, 130,000 Rohingyas still live isolated in camps and villages in the suburb of Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State, Myanmar. Various humanitarian problems still surround the Rohingyas including water and sanitation scarcities as one of the most severe problems. An intense dry season has become a disaster that occurs every year in Rakhine while prolonged droughts always come after the low-intensity rainy season.

Firdaus Guritno from ACT's Global Humanity Response team explains that the water crisis has indeed been a problem for the Rohingyas in Rakhine for years. When the dry season arrives, most of the Rohingyas can only rely on river water to meet their daily water needs.

“They have to walk far away to reach the river. However, instead of clean water, they often get dirty river water,” said Firdaus.

Furthermore, Firdaus explains that the soil water in Rakhine is very limited and isn’t always available the whole year. Firdaus added that although a Waqf Well is constructed in Rakhine, the water will only last for a few years before completely drying up.

On the other hand, due to their habit of consuming dirty water, many Rohingyas have suffered from various waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, dysentery, or various types of skin diseases.

According to Myint Oo, senior program coordinator for Relief International, the water shortages could lead to cases of acute watery diarrhea (AWD) and dysentery, both amoebic and bacillary. In addition, serious outbreaks such as cholera also need to be considered as a possible impact.

Myint Oo added that drinking contaminated water can cause skin infections, along with other infectious diseases of the alimentary system transmitted via the fecal-oral route, such as hepatitis A.[]