Myanmar has been facing a deteriorating humanitarian context for several years. Fleeing conflict and inflation, more than 1.5¹ million people are currently displaced within the country. In Kachin, in the north of Myanmar, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL and its local partners are helping the population whose needs for drinking water, functional sanitation services and training in good hygiene practices remain vital.
Following the military coup of February 2021, the security, economic and humanitarian situation in Kachin and throughout the country has deteriorated dramatically. Disruptions in the banking system, shortages, lack of public services, and rising prices, particularly for food and agricultural inputs, have had a terrible impact on the people. In addition, conflicts in the country have increased insecurity, forcing thousands of people to seek refuge in camps.
A vital support
Thanks to the support of the European Union, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL is helping the population in the Kachin camps through a number of projects, including those aimed at improving access to water, hygiene and sanitation. Within this framework, the NGO provides essential services and goods. With a strong base in the local communities, it is committed to making the population a central actor in the reduction of water-related diseases and the spread of epidemics.
In this area, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL, with its local partners, is organizing working groups. The aim is for the inhabitants to eventually take charge of the operation and maintenance of the infrastructure, waste management and hygiene promotion within the camp.
“With the support of SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL and the European Union, drinking water is now being put to good use in the camp. Garbage collection systems have been put in place, thus reducing cases of dysentery. We also have access to hygiene awareness video clips which allow people who cannot read or write to be informed and educated. More specifically, I would like to thank SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL wholeheartedly for setting up a room reserved for women to manage menstrual hygiene, which I would not have even dared to dream of”, says Daw Dai Gan, 47, a refugee in Nyaung Na Pin camp in Lwegel since 2012.
In addition to these working groups, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL ensures the general improvement of water infrastructures and their rehabilitation when necessary.
The importance of local actors
In a context as complex as Myanmar’s, one of the key elements of the NGO’s work is to build the capacity of community actors to take charge of available resources themselves through training, coaching and monitoring to enable better coordination between stakeholders. “I am convinced that the participation of camp residents in the organization of the camps will create a healthier and happier community,” explains Labya La Mai, a refugee in a camp since 2015 due to the conflicts. Thus, the daily management of two refugee camps has been entrusted by SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL to a local partner. This approach will be replicated in the near future.
Despite these positive developments, the country is facing a crisis of such magnitude that the situation remains very difficult for the population, which is struggling to meet its daily needs. The local and international humanitarian community is trying to help, but funding is lacking as thousands of people continue to struggle for survival.