Ri Sipaw - Turning on the Tap


Living and working deep in the forests of Salawin National Park in a village which lies 100km from the nearest town is one Karen member who knows all too well the reality of having little access to water and the struggles it brings.

Ri Sipaw lives in Ban Mae Po village in the remote mountain region of Sao Hin and is married to the headman. Their village is reached along an undulating dirt track, which crosses and sometimes runs along the river bed for many kilometres and during the rainy season is completely cut off.


For mother of two with a baby on the way, Ri-Sipaw, life has been tough.

Instead of gaining an education Ri Sipaw has had to work hard to provide for her family, living in poverty as a subsistence farmer. Until this year, villagers had been working in rice paddy fields which were only able to produce 40% of the food needed. Access to water had been limited to collecting river water which is often contaminated, and sanitation did not exist in the village.

‘We had to collect water from the stream 100 metres away. We had no toilets and had to go to the toilet in the forest. We got rashes on our legs from insect bites and urinary problems’.

Access to safe and reliable water is changing this.

The 307 villagers of Ban Mae Po now have access to clean water, sanitation and a newly built irrigation system thanks to the hard work of the Karen construction team and generous donations from KHT supporters.

Our locally designed and built clean water systems deliver water to Karen villages from mountain springs up to 7km away. The irrigation dams divert water into rice paddy fields to ensure families can rely on an environmentally sustainable and continuous supply of food every year.

Life is now one of opportunity; family health is rapidly improving, diverse crops can be grown all year round and surplus crops can be sold at the market. Profits can then be used to provide access to basic needs such as education and healthcare. For Ri Sipaw this means food on the table for her family and a better future for her children.

‘If my children have an education they can work in the town in the government offices. It will be better for them than working in the fields.’