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Daw Hlaye’s story

Imagine have to decide whether to save money to improve your home or to purchase essential water that is likely unclean…what would you do?
daw hlaye

Daw Hlaye moved away after surviving the devastation of Cyclone Nargis – the worst natural disaster in Myanmar’s history. She and her husband travelled to the bustling city of Yangon, looking for work and a safer life for their two children. The couple were in their early thirties and full of hope.

This was nine years ago now.

As they were earning only five dollars a day, the rent became impossible to afford on an unsteady income. So she and her family moved closer to work, into an informal settlement alongside a stretch of factories.

Daw Hlaye’s current home has bamboo floors. The roof and walls are made of palm leaves. The home is completely open – without a front or back door. Without any locks or security, she doesn’t feel safe especially as slums are rampant with crime and corruption.

By 2030 it is estimated that one in four people will live in a slum and basic utilities like electricity and water are more expensive in the slums than they are in the city centre. Private providers have free rein to charge exorbitant rates for the informal settlements, while other areas are covered by government rates. According to the United Nations, the urban poor pay up to 50 times more for a litre of water than their richer neighbours.

For Daw Hlaye, her options for clean water are either a communal water pump which can only be used for washing clothes or jugs of water for cooking and drinking which are sold to families in the settlement by a vendor.

“Where will we get water from today? How will we repair the roof to keep our family safe? How will we build a better future?” asked Daw Hlaye.

A safe and decent home provides the foundation for families to start building a healthier life for themselves, a place where they have access to all the basic amenities including clean water.

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