Wednesday, March 22

Betong and Miri worst hit by drought, suffer water shortage


KUCHING: A total of 203 cases of water shortage have been reported throughout the state as of yesterday – Betong and Miri the worst hit divisions with 48 cases each.

These were followed by Mukah (19), Sarikei (17), Bintulu (16), Kuching (15), Sri Aman (12), Limbang (11), Sibu (seven) and Kota Samarahan (six), revealed the State Welfare Department.

The total number of families and people affected were yet to be determined.

Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah, responding to the water shortage situation in Mukah division, told The Borneo Post that a total of 436,430 litres of clean water had been distributed to 10,360 people. The water has reached 31 longhouses and villages involving 1,604 families.

“We are still receiving reports on increasing requests for water. These are the latest data collected from the Public Works Department (PWD), Welfare Department, Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) and Health Department.

“Additionally, six other longhouses were provided with mineral water bottles as requested by their ‘tuai rumah’. The mineral water is for drinking and cooking with villagers resorting to a nearby river for washing and bathing,” she continued.

The Dalat assemblywoman assured that the Welfare Department would continue to work with PWD and other relevant agencies in sending tankers to areas with no water or low water pressure.

She said in hard to access areas, the Welfare Department would continue to send boxes of mineral waters to families on a weekly basis.

Her ministry had instructed all its divisional-level office operations room to prepare to face the drought, and prepare a list of mineral water suppliers.

“Welfare officers from all divisional and district offices have been ordered to distribute clean water to all drought-affected areas,” she continued.

As of June 29, a total of 90 schools in the state have asked for water from the Welfare Department. The schools are mostly in rural areas with the majority of them primary schools relying on rainwater and wells.

Fatimah, during a work visit to the Mental Health Association of Sarawak (MHAS) halfway home, said no school had been instructed to close though students living in hostels were told to go home for the weekend to conserve water.

The Welfare Department will provide water to areas and settlements without piped water that are dependent on rainwater. It has been delivering gallons of mineral water to affected areas since May 7.

Fatimah said as of June 27, some 3,669 families involving 25,743 people were short of water. Betong was the worst hit division with 1,942 families affected.