11 June 2010
In Myanmar, as the new school term begins this month, so does a better learning experience for thousands of children whose schools were destroyed by Cyclone Nargis on 2 May 2008.
Patrick Elliot, the British Red Cross shelter co-ordinator in Myanmar, said: “The project to reconstruct 24 schools in the Ayeyarwady delta began in November 2009 and was completed at the end of May 2010. It was funded entirely from British Red Cross donations which total around £1 million.”
At least 6,000 schools were destroyed or severely damaged by Cyclone Nargis. The Red Cross has rebuilt schools in locations identified by the Myanmar Ministry of Education, and each school will be attended by 130 pupils on average.
Built back better
As part of the project, each school was provided with four latrines and septic tanks, which are raised above normal flood level. The Red Cross also gave a cash grant – about £300 – to each school supervision committee, for things such as landscaping, playground furniture and fencing.
Patrick said: “The schools are built to a much higher standard than those which collapsed in the cyclone. They are designed to resist floods, low level cyclones and earthquakes to a level predicted in the area.
“In the event of an emergency, up to 300 people could seek temporary shelter in each school.”
Building the schools was part of a wider drive by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to reconstruct the country’s shelter structures in the delta region. The Myanmar Red Cross Society has so far built homes for 4,000 families and plans to build a further 11,000.
Daw Tin Pu and her four-year-old grandson Pho Chit live in the village of Pay Gone, where the Myanmar Red Cross Society has been working.
“Being safe and secure in our new home is such a nice feeling,” says the 70-year-old widow. “When I heard the Red Cross was going to build houses for our village and that I was on the selection list, I was very happy – so happy that I cried.”
Look at our Cyclone Nargis photo gallery