KUCHING: Drought-hit villages in the state have been assured that they will continue to receive delivery of water until the situation returns to normal.
Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah said various government agencies were coordinating efforts to ensure that water is supplied to the affected areas.
She said the Public Works Department (PWD) was using lorries to deliver water to areas accessible by road and the Welfare Department was looking after areas not accessible by road.
“These are mainly areas which are dependent on rain-harvesting systems. The Welfare Department will supply bottled water to those affected in places such as longhouses along riverbanks.
“So normally we will use a barge to transport boxes of water,” she said yesterday.
Fatimah said each affected family will receive four boxes of bottled water, totalling forty-eight 1.5-litre bottles, for a week’s ration.
“If the drought persists, they can inform us and we will deliver another week’s ration to them,” she said.
According to statistics from the department, some 83,042 boxes of bottled water have been distributed since the dry weather began earlier this year.
As of yesterday, a total of 28,621 families comprising 154,061 people have received the bottled water.
“Some of them are repeat cases where there is prolonged drought, particularly in the Betong, Sarikei, Mukah and Bintulu divisions,” Fatimah said, adding that the Samarahan division was the latest area to request assistance, with bottled water being supplied to 12,198 people from 2,108 families in several villages.
In addition, PWD has delivered over 2.3 million litres of water so far to affected areas.
For areas which have not received any assistance, Fatimah advised the community leaders to report the situation to the district disaster relief committee or district officer.
“Accordingly, they will contact PWD or the Welfare Department for assistance,” she said.
She also said that the Welfare Department had made early preparations by identifying areas at risk of drought and calculating how much bottled water would need to be delivered.
“We also requested for an allocation of funds for the drought,” she said, adding that the department had spent more than RM1.2mil so far on the water distribution.
Various parts of Sarawak have been facing a water shortage in the current dry spell.
Cloud-seeding operations are set to be carried out in several areas, particularly Saratok, one of the worst-hit areas, although a heavy downpour on Thursday evening had eased the situation there.