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Burma/Myanmar

Saving lives with clean water

The European Commission's humanitarian partner Merlin UK is working along the low-lying coastal plains of Laputta to bring relief to victims of Cyclone Nargis.

Distribuer de l'eau potable est essentiel pour sauver des vies. Merlin est au travail sur le terrain pour cela.
Distribuer de l'eau potable est essentiel pour sauver des vies. Merlin est au travail sur le terrain pour cela.
Photo : Merlin

In the days following the cyclone's passage, Merlin staff travelled by boat to deliver 600 gallons of clean water to 12,500 people living in villages devastated by the floods.

The community ponds that the villagers relied on for safe water were flooded in the 12ft tidal surge which followed Cyclone Nargis. Prior to Merlin’s arrival, villagers had to travel by boat to get clean water and they had only managed to get 70 gallons at a time.

It took two hours to bring the precious cargo back from town, and even then the water was used within a matter of hours. The motorised boat available speeded up the journey but used costly amounts of fuel, which very few people can afford right now.

The water will last for about a week, but Merlin has also helped the village to improve long-term availability. Experts pumped the contaminated water out of the ponds, so that they can now be filled by clean rain water from the monsoon rains, now battering the region.

Dr Pyong, our Project Health Team Leader in Laputta, describes how people in the isolated villages are trying to survive, nine days on: “All but a handful of brick homes were destroyed in the cyclone. Everyone is living either in the local monastery or primary school. Both had their roofs ripped away, so families are having to shelter under ragged sheets of tarpaulin to keep the rain off.”

Merlin is also providing clean water in temples, pagodas and other public spaces in and around the town, and clean water and hygiene kits in three camps in Laputta township.

Report from Merlin - www.merlin.org.uk

Merlin UK is one of the Commission's three humanitarian partners to sign a contract in the framework of the emergency decision taken on 5th May for funding of €2 million in relief assistance.

The Commission has been present in Myanmar for many years, giving access to direct information on the situation and thereby enabling a rapid response. The two other partners in this first funding decision are the International Federation of the Red Cross and World Vision. Both these partners have been working on relief efforts since day 1.