Having water and having clean, safe, drinking water are not the same thing. In the border region where Thailand and Myanmar meet, there is no shortage of water. Towns and villages draw from the Moei River or local wells. For those using pipeline water, there is an understanding that what comes out of your tap should not go into your body. Whether it’s issues with filtration or the poor quality of the pipelines (usually as a result of installation practices), residents understand the health risks. Villages removed from town centres rely on well water or water diverted from nearby streams. This untreated water poses a health risk.
The daily impact of unsafe drinking water is felt by many. Diarrhea and stomach issues, weakness, fatigue, and frequent kidney stones are common complications from drinking the water you have and not the clean water you want. The young, the elderly, and those with pre-existing health issues are most adversely impacted. The same water that keeps you alive can also make you sick.
For those that can afford it, 1 gallon of clean drinking water costs around 15 to 20 Thai Baht. That’s 50 to 75 cents. In a country that’s known for it’s heat, in a home where most likely multiple generations live together as a larger family, this can add up quickly. Clean drinking water becomes unaffordable. And just like that it is not a lack of access to clean water, but a financial barrier that stops families from living in good health. For these families they must either boil the water, investing time and money, or drink untreated water.
At Imagine Thailand, we work with the Burmese migrant community on both sides of the Thai-Myanmar border. In many ways these communities have worked to be self-sufficient. Affordable, sustainable access to clean water is one way we are working to empower these communities.
Imagine Thailand partners with migrant schools and student children’s homes because these spaces serve as a rallying point for the community. We assess the water needs of the school and the greater community and install an appropriate multi-stage water filtration system. Once these systems are installed, for 3 years we work together with teachers and locals to provide maintenance and filter training. After those 3 years we are always on call to help with any problems that may come up. We don’t want to make people dependent on us, but we also never want them to be alone. Clean drinking water is something we take seriously.
Access to affordable and sustainable clean drinking water changes so much for a community. It frees up time and financial resources and this makes way for good things. When we complete a new installation, the sense of joy and relief amongst the students and teachers is real. There are always lots of smiles. Clean water goes beyond saving time and money and providing better health - it gives people confidence that what they are about to drink is good for them and good for their children. That peace of mind is powerful.
In 2017, Imagine Thailand continues to work with migrant communities to provide clean, affordable, and sustainable access to drinking water.
NEW SYSTEMS || We will purchase and install 5 new multi-stage water filtration systems in migrant schools and children’s homes in the Mae Sot area.
Impact: 3,000 people
MAINTENANCE || Multi-stage filtration units require different types of filters. When schools cannot afford to maintain or replace their filters, we work with them to find solutions. This year we will be working with the maintenance and labour of 39 multi-stage water filtration systems in Mae Sot migrant schools.
Impact: 5,000 people
If you would like to know more about our Clean Water Projects or would like to invest in the cost of clean water, please contact us here. This #WorldWaterDay, choose to be involved.