Spending time in Mae Hong Son, the issue of water access and clean water access is constantly discussed. From the larger towns to the remote villages, water is an ongoing concern for the people I have met and as I have been told many times ‘water is life’.
Mae Hong Son is Thailand’s poorest province and the environment can be unforgiving in both the wet and dry seasons. With much of the province underdeveloped, many people are living in remote areas with limited infrastructure.
For the Karen people, from health to farming, as well as sanitation and businesses, water is vital but it is also difficult to access. Many of the Karen people we have spoken to express their relief at having cleaner water close by. This access not only brings ease to mothers in homes and farmers in their fields, but it also changes patterns of behaviour that can improve health and well-being.
“We do hygiene education with each village to stress important ways to stay healthy and avoid spreading disease. This is much easier for them to do when they have water close by.”- KHT’s M&E Officer
With water close by, people can focus on thriving rather than struggling against water poverty. They can think in terms of maintaining their well-being, rather than worrying about lacking water to drink or farm.
During a visit to the Sao Hin area, we were told that health had greatly improved in the village KHT provided water and latrines over 5 years ago. The villagers were keen to stress they looked after the system and they also had a community fund to support repairs and emergencies because they valued the system.
They also reported an increase in income in the village, from spending less on medical bills or other ways to manage water poverty and asked KHT to continue our support as the village grows.
“The villagers are very happy that KHT helped them with the water and the latrines. It has made life better as we get almost no help from anyone else in this area.” – Village Headman
The women in the village expressed how grateful they were that children were sick much less often and having latrines in their homes was both convenient and a relief. KHT is not only focused on the practical aspect of water access but also understanding that being able to drink and wash with clean water is also a matter of dignity and justice.
The KHT aims to reach remote and ignored villages across Mae Hong Son and this is only possible with your support. You can donate to our WASH and Livelihoods projects here.