Thursday, February 25, 2010

Water Project

I have been working with a good friend of mine for the last few months on a water project inside  Burma.  This is a bit illegal (strange that helping others is illegal, but it is), so it has been a bit of a challenge.

Yesterday we had a meeting at the site.  Burma has many states and some, like the Mon state, have some autonomy from the central government.  We had gotten permission from the Mon state to enter Burma, but the central government will not give permission, so we had to hid a bit while being transported. I was not really nervous, but I knew that there could be a bit of a problem if one of the many Burmese soldiers stopped the car. 

We got to the temple where we will drill a well.  The driller has a good reputation, the other man neither my friend or I knew.  I was (am) a bit nervous about him since he was wearing a real gold Rolex on his wrist.  The meeting went ok.  

We decided to go with my friend to the well that serves the rest of the area.  It is already over capacity, no way to add to the capacity.  The man who manager is trustworthy, and he gave us a lot of good advice.  Our initial idea was to run a few taps with meters and have the local people put there money together to pay the monthly cost.  Turns out that the Burmese government will apply a tax which would essentially double the rate. Nobody wants to enrich the government, so we settled on a flat monthly charge much like the other service has.

I think that it is probably best to have the community gather money and if they raise a sufficient amount, we will contribute the remainder.  This is not just to keep the cost down, but more importantly to have a sense of ownership in the community.  People usually do not destroy things that they paid for (at least in theory).  

Hopefully, they will raise the money they need to and work can begin in April.  Kind of exciting.

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