Polluted river causing skin diseases

A woman washing clothes in the Mone River. Photo: Myitmakha News Agency
A woman washing clothes in the Mone River. Photo: Myitmakha News Agency

THE polluting of the Mone River, which cuts through Kyaukkyi Township in Bago Region, is causing problems to those who use the river as a source of drinking water, according to local residents.
“I’ve been living in the Mone area for a long time. The river water has never become this murky and polluted before. The flow of river water has noticeably decreased in the last three years, with the water itself becoming murky. The water is no good to use anymore as a result; it can’t be used as a source of drinking water. I’ve heard it’s because of machinery used in golden panning activities further up the river,” said U Myint Swe, who lives near the river.
Roughly 10,000 people use the Mone River as a source of water, while insufficient supplies of water in wells located in villages along the river force locals to rely on the Mone River to quench their drinking water needs.
On top of current water shortages in the region, local residents say they have developed skin diseases after bathing in the river.
The stopping of gold panning activities along the river would allow river water to return to its previous purity and bring a reduction in the numbers of skin disease outbreaks, said U Myint Swe.
“Water shortages are being felt in both urban and rural areas. If these kind of gold panning activities continue, then our Mone River will also experience such water shortages before long. I wish the water in the river would return to its original clarity. The water these days is so dirty, to the point where we can’t use it anymore, let alone consume it,” said Daw Nyo May, a local resident.
“Only by substituting the river water with clean water for bathing will the frequency of skin disease outbreaks subside, but an insufficient supply of alternative sources means locals have to use the dirty river water regardless. Over 20 residents are currently suffering from skin diseases caused by the polluted river,” she added.
—Myitmakha News Agency

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