At the end of April 2024, a heatwave swept across Asia, leaving Myanmar struggling to cope. With power shortages and infrastructure damage due to ongoing conflict, many people are left without access to air conditioning or even fans. The dwindling offshore natural gas reserves and high diesel prices have also made it difficult for people to afford generators.

In May, temperatures in Yangon, Myanmar, soared to 45.9 degrees Celsius (approx. 113 °F), making the city of eight million even more stifling. Residents flocked to parks, docks, and riverbanks seeking relief from the heat. Due to the El Niño phenomenon, Myanmar was expected to experience sustained high temperatures from April to mid-May, with some areas facing unusual rainfall, frequent storms, and droughts.

Good Affinity

Dalla Township, which lacks a bridge connecting it to Yangon, has developed slowly and has no running water. Residents rely on stored rainwater for their needs. In 2010, Tzu Chi had visited the area to distribute stationery to local schools.

This year, the combination of extreme heat, delayed monsoon rains, and land salinization has worsened the water scarcity in Dalla. There are five water reservoirs in Kanaung Chungwa village, but four have been contaminated by seawater intrusion, leaving only one usable reservoir. The water from this reservoir needs to be stored for two months to allow impurities to settle before it can be used.

Having participated in Tzu Chi's hot meal distribution event during Buddha Day this year, Yangon's Fire Department reached out to Tzu Chi regarding the water shortage situation in Dalla Township. After understanding and assessing the situation, Tzu Chi decided to arrange water supplies for the residents.

On May 23, hearing that an organization was coming to provide water, villagers brought all the containers they could find and lined up. Fire trucks, in cooperation with Tzu Chi, supplied the locals with their daily water needs, and bottled drinking water was distributed for emergency use. Two water trucks, each carrying around 12,000 liters (about 3,170 gal) of water, were used to fill 800 eighteen-liter plastic buckets for the villagers. This water supply effort benefited a total of 700 families, reaching approximately 3,000 people.

At the villagers' request, the Tzu Chi team will also assist in renovating the only usable reservoir. | Photo courtesy of Tzu Chi Foundation | Kanaung Chungwa Village, Yangon, Myanmar

The villagers also requested Tzu Chi's help to renovate the only usable reservoir by laying waterproof fabric to prevent seawater intrusion. While the emergency water distribution provided only two days' worth of water, the Tzu Chi team discussed and approved the renovation plan. They aim to complete the project prior to the rainy season to enable water storage.

Through these efforts, Tzu Chi is working to alleviate the water crisis in Dalla, helping residents navigate this challenging time.