Facing Poor Sanitation in Their Flood Prone Village Yields Benefits for U Shwe and His Family

CWS Myanmar | June 16, 2019

U Hla Shwe and his daughter at their home, with the latrine behind them. Photo: CWS

Farmer U Hla Shwe lives in Yae Le Gyi village with his daughters, and he happily tends his three-acre farm of corn and other vegetables. As subsistence farmers, Ko Shwe’s family has food and goods for basic daily living. But the family diet is not diverse and rich, which the reason CWS first met Ko Shwe. His grandson was diagnosed as undernourished, so the boy and his mother joined the nutrition improvement program for young children, which CWS started in Yae Le Gyi in 2017.

Sad to realize that his grandson was not well nourished, Ko Shwe admitted that they only have money for basic food beyond their corn, and not enough that is nutritious for the boy. He also told us the family has no savings to change this. He further explained that one reason they have so little money is that, year in and year out, they must build a new latrine because perennial flooding destroys the ones that they build … and rebuild. In continuing to talk with Ko Shwe, CWS staff realized that this was because his latrine design was not right for a flood prone area. And, they were happy to be able to tell the family about a latrine model CWS designed and tested for villages like Yae Le Gyi, which flood every year.

One team member took time to talk about the importance of good construction as much good design. For example, using good quality concrete rings, posts and a concrete slab, is essential. Digging a deeper pit and securely placing well rings must also be done carefully. With CWS team support, U Shwe’s latrine was done on March 20, 2019, after which he told the CWS WASH team coordinator, “I am happy and grateful to CWS and their supporters for caring for people like me and my grandson to have a healthy life”.

In addition to having a durable latrine which is also more sanitary than their old ones, the family will now be able to save money from no longer needing to repeatedly rebuild their latrine. Now they can use savings for other priorities, like planting more diverse vegetables, including more nutritious ones for U Shwe’s grandson. Also, the can buy more protein-rich foods, like fish and meat.

(For more information please contact mpannell@cwsglobal.org)

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