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Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

Water and sanitation for tsunami-affected schools and communities in remote Myanmar

UNICEF Image: Myanmar: Tsunami recovery
© UNICEF Myanmar/2006
Girls at Phone Daw Pyae School in Myanmar line up for safe drinking water brought by UNICEF and its partners following the 2004 tsunami.

By Sandar Linn

PHONE DAW, Myanmar, December 2006 – It’s a brand new school day for the children of Phone Daw, a remote fishing village. With its red roof and unspoiled yellow walls, the village school is a haven for children who endured great loss in the tsunami.

Looking at the smiling faces of the children, one can hardly believe that more than a third of the school’s 300 students come from families affected by the December 2004 disaster. Two years later, the community is back on its feet, and the children are enjoying a much-improved learning environment as a result of recovery efforts supported by UNICEF and its partners.

As part of the post-tsunami response, water and sanitation facilities have been installed at some 300 schools across the region, including the one at Phone Daw. And some 50 reservoirs are being built to provide safe drinking water to more schools and homes.

“Thanks to UNICEF, the school’s water system has become even better than before,” said the Headmaster of Phone Daw Pyae Primary, U Khin Htun. “Now whenever the children are thirsty or tired, they have clean water to drink and refresh themselves.”

© UNICEF Myanmar/2006
Newly installed water and sanitation systems in the schools have encouraged students like Min Htut Naing, 9, to adopt good hygiene practices.

New facilities inspire good hygiene

With the installation of water and sanitation facilities at the school, good hygiene practices such as hand-washing have significantly increased among the children.

“In the past I couldn’t wash my hands before and after meals, or after using the toilets, because my school didn’t have enough water,” said third-grader Min Htut Naing, 9. “Now I can,” he added proudly.

Besides improved water and sanitation, UNICEF has provided new sports and learning materials to the schools – all part of the rebuilding process that aims to reach more communities, especially the most disadvantaged and excluded ones, and bring a better life to children and their families.

“Look at my students,” said the Phone Daw headmaster. “They are healthier, happier and enjoying sports. This is definitely helping them to recover from the tsunami.”




December 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Kun Li reports on UNICEF’s work on water and sanitation facilities in schools and communities affected by the tsunami in Myanmar.
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