Rainwater reservoir
Distribution of plastic sheeting for the collection of rainwater

Cyclone Nargis – Clean drinking water for Myanmar

In May 2008, Cyclone Nargis devastated large parts of Myanmar. The Munich Re Foundation donated €30,000 towards a relief project to restore clean drinking water to the worst-affected areas. The project report of August 2008 confirms that the donated funds arrived safely.

On 2 May 2008, Cyclone Nargis hit the Myanmar coast, cutting a path of destruction across the country that left more than two million people in urgent need of humanitarian aid. Relief efforts were made extremely difficult by the large-scale destruction of roads and infrastructure, which had left the Irrawaddy Delta virtually cut off from the outside world.

Prior to the cyclone, drinking water in the delta region was available from artificial rainwater storage tanks and a few deep wells. The cyclone left many of these contaminated with saltwater. The storage tanks and wells had to be pumped dry and cleaned as quickly as possible, so that they could be replenished before the monsoon rains arrived in June.

During the first phase of the aid project, toolkits, pumps and plastic sheeting were distributed to more than 1,000 families in Bogale, Papyon and Kawhmu. A piece of 1 m² plastic sheeting can collect up to 200 litres of water a day, and the families were handed instructions on how to use the sheets to catch rainwater. At the same time, numerous wells were cleaned and repaired in some 60 villages in the Kungyangon and Amar districts, giving over 10,000 people access to clean drinking water. This work was carried out by the German aid organisation “arche noVa” together with three local project partner organisations and teams of volunteers. The network “Aktion Deutschland Hilft” helped to coordinate the project.

Long-term goals

The next few months will see further rainwater storage tanks back in operation, the construction of simple water systems and the further inclusion of local water filters in the water supply for the villages. In the longer term, the objective is to ensure the water supply for schools and public facilities.

You can read the project report of August 2008 here (German) (165 KB) >>

5 September 2008