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Wednesday, 2 April 2014

ORANG ASLI THIRSTING FOR WATER

There is water shortage all around and for the Orang Asli the problems are magnified. A visit by Yayasan Kajian dan Pembangunan Masyarakat on 29 March 2014  revealed that  Orang Asli  are thirsting for water.

The Jakun Orang Asli (OA)  community consisting of  30 families from Kampung OA Tanjong Keruing located in the district of   Pekan, Pahang  are desperately short of clean water and are  living in a state of perpetual thirst.  The Orang Asli  reported that there   has been no rain in their village  since late January. But even this is not enough and the available  water arising thereto   contaminated.

The greatest danger is the impact this has on their health. It was also reported   that many of their people are  suffering from diarrhoea, in particular the children and elderly. This is compounded further as the OA can ill afford to purchase  drinking water from the shops.

One of the  OA Mohamad Sulong   said  “The water level in the wells are low and quickly used up. After the water is used up, the OA families  have to wait until the water level rises again in the well before they can get their source of water. But as soon as it  rises, it is used up. The families have to wait long periods for their water.  Due to the scarce source of clean  water,  there is never enough. 

By the time the well water level rises significantly , one family  will have scooped up all   the water leaving  other waiting  families without sufficient water to  draw from. The next family in line will have to wait for the water level to rise and then the next family in line faces the same cycle of waiting and probably thirsting before the level  rises sufficiently for collection.  The wait is both tiring,  frustrating  and a strain on community harmony.”

The OA also said    the Pahang Department of  Water Supply  had laid underground water pipes  in their village and to their houses sometime back in September 2013. For a short time,  there was water supply but it stopped due to low water pressure.  The water supply agency   then embarked on building a water pump which was  completed in February 2014.   However, there has been no water supply  to date. 
The Prime minister’s office have promised to look into this water crisis  and have found that the contractor in charge of connecting  the water supply has absconded and the project abandoned. The Pekan office of the Prime Minister is working on a relief plan.

It is clear that the OA are a most vulnerable group and that special attention needs to be given to the basic needs of the OA. It is very probable that OA communities  in the surrounding  areas are also suffering from similar  hardships.  An unusually high number of water projects have been abandoned leaving the OA  communities with serious  access to clean water. Access  to clean water is a right every community in Malaysia should be entitled to and high priority be given to redress this urgent crisis.
We urge the Department of  Development for  Orang Asli (JKOA) to pro-actively  look into these cases so that they need not  suffer from such unnecessary  illness and hardships. The award of  contracts to water projects for the most vulnerable groups have to be reviewed. The resources provided by the government will otherwise be wasted and the poor remain  impoverished.  Worse still, it gives the false impression to the public and  policy makers that the OA have already been provided with such basic facilities when the reality is that they are still suffering from inability to access clean water.

Proham is  deeply concerned  that the human rights and Basic Needs of the OA, who are the most  Vulnerable  in Malaysian Society - have  been grossly  violated  by  negligence and low  priority   given to meet  their  humanitarian  requirement.
Issued on behalf of Proham by Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam (Proham Member) and Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Proham Secretary General) April 2, 2014

1 comment:

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