Communal conflict in Myanmar’s Rakhine State has left families at Sin Tet Maw camp displaced since 2012. Facilities in the camp are dire and many live in crowded, dilapidated homes and lack access to safe drinking water. Islamic Relief ran a project to help improve living conditions in the camp.

Many families could afford to repair damaged shelters and had little protection against the long rainy season. This posed a serious risk to their health and wellbeing. Many also relied on murky pond water for everyday use, posing further risks to their health.

Islamic Relief’s project involved constructing 176 long shelters which are providing families with a safe and comfortable place to live with dignity. The shelters have been made from materials designed to withstand harsh weather conditions.

We also built a new pond which is helping to provide a safe source of water for local people, and also allows them to store water for the dry seasons. We also installed 19 new solar-powered street lights to help improve security in the camp.

In total, the project has helped improve living conditions for over 1,300 people.

Creating more comfortable housing for the camp’s residents

“Last year, we laid plastic sheets on the ground where we slept on as the floor of our shelter was damaged.  The roof was leaking, and the walls had holes. We dreaded going to sleep at night. It was really tough,” says mother-of-3 Khine.

“We dreaded nightfall. It was really tough, I especially worried about my 3 daughters and 3-year-old grandchild”, she says.

Khine’s family were among 176 Rohingya families who moved into a long shelter constructed by Islamic Relief. Now her worries about shelter are resolved, she feels better able to tackle other pressing matters, like finding work.

“I venture out of the camp and look for any work available like working in farms or doing domestic work in the nearby village. Now that our shelter problem has been addressed, we’re prepared for the monsoon and I can focus my energy in creating a better life for my family”, says Khine.

The new shelters have also made a difference to 43-year-old Ma Nyo.

“With the Covid-19 pandemic, conditions in the camp were very poor.  We were staying in a dilapidated room for almost 2 years. I started to worry as the rainy season was fast approaching,” she says.

Ma Nyo was selected to move into an Islamic Relief long shelter.

“We were involved in the construction phase for the long shelters and shared feedback with camp volunteers and engineers.

“The issue we’re facing now is that owners of nearby farms no longer hire workers. There are times we are short of food. Despite that, we’re happy that we have proper shelter now. We won’t get sick during the rainy season and won’t get wet from leaking roofs and walls.

“For now, me, my husband and daughter can sleep peacefully at night despite the wind and rain”, she says.

A new pond

“I’m happy because the water quality is far better now than before. Before the repairs, the water was too murky. And now we have enough water”, says mother-of-5 May, describing how Islamic Relief’s pond reservation is providing clean water to over 1,300 people in the area. It involves storing water during the rainy season which can be used in drier months.

“Being a widow and taking care of 5 children alone is tough. I always afraid that my children would get sick from drinking dirty water. It’s difficult for us to access healthcare as we live on an island and it takes an hour by boat to seek care. Due to my status, I cannot move freely one place to another, making it even more difficult.

“Before the new pond was constructed if the water was too murky, we would boil it. At times, we would just let the particles settle and drink it. However, now the water we collect is clear.”

The rainwater collected in the pond lasts the village for months.

“We use the water collected in the pond from June until March. In April and May, we will go to other villages to find water or use some water at the well.

“Now we can collect a lot of water and we hope it will last longer. I’m really happy that we have enough water now”, says May.

Islamic Relief has been delivering humanitarian aid and livelihoods projects in Myanmar since 2008. With your support, we can continue to be a lifeline to families in crisis: donate now.