Yangon, 11 March 2020 – A handover ceremony for a water treatment plant as an in-situ slum upgrading project took place on 10th March in Dala township, Yangon.
In Yangon, informal settlements have developed in all parts of the city; most of the growth however is spatially concentrated in and around the ‘resettlement areas’ and along the western and eastern bank of the Hlaing/Pan Hlaing Rivers and the Nga Moe Yeik Creek.
Over the last four years, UN-Habitat has had several consultations and exchange of thoughts with Yangon Region Government (YRG) on solutions and ways forward to deal with the housing, basic services and socio-economic issues of the resettlement areas and the informal settlements. UN-Habitat has mapped Yangon’s informal settlements, confirming that estimated 130 of the 423 existing settlements are potentially suitable for in-situ incremental upgrading, while the remaining are in hazardous areas that are potentially unsuitable for the development of human settlements.
The Yangon Informal Settlement – Resettlement Programme (YIS-RP), with the support from Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), has been implemented as an inception phase in order to facilitate data collection, assessments, planning, costing and consultation with communities prior to the launch of a possible resettlement plan by the YRG. The goal of the inception phase is mitigation of resettlement risks and increased protection for households relocated/resettled from informal settlements located in hazardous locations in Yangon’s resettlement areas.
As one of the programme components to demonstrate in-situ slum upgrading, a water treatment plant with reverse osmosis (RO) system was installed in Hmawset Ward of Dala Township. The water treatment plant can provide nearly 1,800 households with access to reliable and safe drinking water, covering around 8,000 people. The community-driven project has been implemented by the community themselves with technical support from UN-Habitat.
The handover ceremony was jointly officiated by U Maung Maung Soe (Mayor of Yangon City), U Soe Lwin (Deputy Mayor Yangon City), Daw Hlaing Maw Oo (Secretary Yangon City), U Tun Yin and U Htwe Tin, both members of Yangon Region parliament, Mr. Anders Frankenberg, Head of Development Cooperation of SIDA and Mr. Bijay Karmacharya (UN-Habitat Country Programme Manager). The event was witnessed by the beneficiary families, representatives from SIDA, officials from Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC), Dala township General Administrative Department (GAD) and Dala Township Development Committee members.
Daw Hlaing Maw Oo, Secretary of YCDC, delivered remarks by emphasizing the fact that although Hmawset Ward has enough water, the problem is the lack of safe drinking water. Therefore, she believes that the establishment of water treatment plant is a good deed for the deprived people in the Ward and further expressed her gratitude to SIDA and UN-Habitat for their support. The Secretary congratulated the collective effort from the community, Dala Township Development Committee. Lastly, she highlighted the responsibility of Hmawset residents to maintain the water treatment facility in order to make it sustainable.
In his remarks, Mr. Anders Frankenberg, Head of Development Cooperation of SIDA, expressed his warm congratulations and recognized the achievements of this project through the participatory approach. He also emphasized the value of water by saying that “access to clean and safe water is a fundamental and basic right of all people”. Mr. Frankenberg also said that it was impressive to see the achievements of this project, providing around 8,000 people with reliable access to safe water. He recognized the process and appreciated the community for the collective work. Mr. Frankenberg pointed out the importance of recognizing the remaining works to be done and encouraged collaborative efforts in the future by the Government from all levels, union as well as region and city levels to address the basic needs of people living in precarious conditions in peri-urban areas of Yangon. Lastly, he recognized UN-Habitat’s work on protecting and assisting informal settlements residents in Myanmar.
Mr. Bijay Karmacharya, Country Programme Manager (CPM) of UN-Habitat in Myanmar in his remarks conveyed deep appreciation to YCDC for its cooperation, and SIDA for the support. He mentioned that access to clean, safe and reliable drinking water remains challenging for people living in resettlement areas as well as informal settlements; UN-Habitat has been working in informal settlements of Yangon to improve their living conditions. This project located at Hmawset Ward, that houses resettlement areas and informal settlements, is the 4th of UN-Habitat’s stand-alone community-led projects to serve the poor and vulnerable people. Mr. Karmacharya further noted and emphasized that this project was implemented through a community-driven approach and thus, the responsibility of the community committee to play an important role for its sustainability. To conclude, he highlighted about a major stakeholders’ workshop organized in August 2019 by Department of Housing and Urban Development (DHUD), YRG and YCDC with UN-Habitat’s support under the SIDA funded programme. The workshop, Mr. Karmacharya said, concluded that the solution to informal settlements issue in Yangon would require YRG and YCDC’s initiative for a citywide approach for “in-situ” upgrading and selective resettlement where an upgrading will not be possible.
U Tin Zaw, Chairperson of the Community Development Committee (CDC) firstly expressed his gratitude to the participants of the ceremony. He also spoke about the situation of Hmawset Ward lacking safe drinking water even during the rainy season. The CDC, consists of 10 representatives selected by the community of which 5 are women. In agreement with the community, the CDC has established 19 sub-stations within the ward to sell water. A 20-liter gallon costs MMK 200, price agreed by the community. Thus, the chairperson again extended his thanks to the government officials, SIDA and UN-Habitat for this very meaningful project for his community.