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By Geryl Ogilvy
KUCHING, April 2: The Welfare Department will provide two boxes of 1.5-litre bottles of water per individual per week to every household affected by the water crisis in drought-hit areas across the state.
Minister of Welfare, Community Well-being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah said each household would also receive 315 litres (70 gallons) of raw water supply per week.
This to ensure every household receives sufficient supply of clean water for drinking and food preparation during the dry season, which is expected to last till the end of May.
“Previously, we provided two boxes of bottled water per family per week, but we find this insufficient for big families.
“Therefore, the state Welfare Department, through its natural disaster aid scheme, decided to improve service delivery by providing two boxes per person. One box has 12 bottles,” she told a press conference after chairing the department’s drought preparation programme here today.
Fatimah added that the water supply would be given to areas not connected to clean water sources or treated water grid from the state water board, Public Works Department (JKR) or Sarawak Rural Water Supply Department (JBALB).
In situations where the water source is not clean or safe for drinking and preparation of food, an extra supply of bottled water will be considered for the affected community. The same applies to households with dirty water tanks, too, she said.
Fatimah also requested all community leaders, especially village and longhouse chiefs, to help get the exact number of affected family members to ensure sufficient delivery of bottled water.
She advised schools to also include the number of affected students, teachers and non-academic staff when lodging reports of water crisis with the Education officers.
“We have set up our centres across the state, which are well stocked and ready for delivery, especially in far and hard to reach places. We have also set up a committee to oversee water delivery as well as identifying suppliers of bottled water for each district.
“Apart from the department’s asset, we are also cooperating and utilising assets from the Civil Defence Force and Bomba (Fire and Rescue Department) to aid water delivery to the affected areas, including schools.
“We are committed to ensuring water crisis areas would receive water supply within six hours of making their report,” said Dalat assemblywoman Fatimah.
Fatimah said as of today, the Welfare Department recorded 143 areas having a water crisis, with Mukah the most affected with 48 cases, followed by Limbang (29), Betong (14) and Serian (11).
The department has spent RM794,902 for delivery of raw and bottled water to the affected areas.
A total of 4,989 households involving 26,818 individuals have been affected by the water shortage due to the dry season.
Fatimah said the department had also delivered water to eight schools across the state, which included SK Kendaie in Lundu, SK Tanah Puteh (Serian), SK Nanga Medamit (Limbang) and SK Teluk Gelam (Daro).
Over 1,900 students, teachers and non-academic staff at the schools were affected by the drought. — DayakDaily