"We tried to resist the whole notion of refugee camps because we could see that outside of these camps, there was very little aid being distributed and it was clear that people wanted to return to their villages and start rebuilding," said Hampshire County Council highways engineer and RedR member Paul Jawor. "We tried to facilitate that by using our boats to reach the remote areas."
A volunteer with the engineering disaster relief charity for 10 years, Jawor took a month’s unpaid leave to go out to Burma, where he worked on water and sanitation for medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
Cyclone Nargis hit Burma on 3 May with winds reaching up to 190km/h and devastating an area the size of Wales (NCE 15 May). Up to 150,000 people are thought to have lost their lives, with a further 2.4M people left homeless.
On arrival in the disaster area, Jawor and the rest of the MSF team filled rented barges with rice, oil, beans, water and first aid supplies before sending them out to the worst affected areas.
The first task facing the team was cleaning out contaminated wells, pumping out saltwater to allow the wells to act as reservoirs for drinking water. Jawor estimated that he and his team cleaned 400 wells.
Jawor added that Burma was gradually returning to normal.