MANILA, PHILIPPINES – A new $4 million grant funded by the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction and administered by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will help bring much-needed water and sanitation improvements to underserved townships in Yangon and Mandalay, two of Myanmar’s most populated cities.
“Living conditions in these communities are dismal, leaving residents vulnerable to flooding and chronic health issues, which is hindering their ability to seize economic opportunities,” said Linda Adams, Social Development Specialist in ADB’s Southeast Asia department. “This grant will help empower residents to transform their neighborhoods and support partnerships with municipal officials to create more inclusive cities.”
A significant portion of Myanmar’s urban population live in resettlement areas created in the late 1980s and early 1990s with only basic services. Rapid urban migration, accompanying the opening of the economy, has placed a heavy burden on these communities and exacerbated the realities of living with insufficient access to clean water or any form of piped sewage system. Many residents have turned to costly private solutions to buy water or remove waste, contributing to overall vulnerability and a cycle of dependence on moneylenders.
High density areas can no longer safely manage the treatment or disposal of human waste, wastewater, or solid household waste, resulting in frequent flooding and waterlogging that has pushed up the prevalence of infections caused by exposure to human waste and waterborne diseases.
An ADB-funded pilot project undertaken in 2013 in Dawbon township on the outskirts of Yangon has shown that working directly with communities to provide regular waste disposal, construction of sanitary latrines, and desludging of septic tanks can reduce flooding and improve community sanitation. Building upon this successful demonstration project, two townships in Yangon and two townships in Mandalay will form community development committees in partnership with city, township and ward-level development committees to prioritize, plan, and deliver community demand-driven infrastructure improvements.
By 2018, the grant aims to build 2,000 sanitary latrines, construct 17 kilometers of drains linked to city networks, and build four community solid waste systems in the four townships. It will also build capacity within local government and develop community action plans to help ensure improvements such as better access to safe and regular water supplies, sanitation, drainage, and flood protection are sustainable.