In the aftermath of cyclone Nargis, which brought a tidal wave of destruction and chaos to the delta region of Myanmar [formerly Burma], images are reaching the outside world of thousands of desperate people - many of them children - without homes or possessions, and with only polluted water to drink.
That water, polluted by excrement, dead bodies and salinity, and teeming with waterborne pathogens, is a deadly cocktail to all, and children especially. One company acutely aware of the fact is the Danish firm Vestergaard Frandsen, which manufactures a device called LifeStraw, a portable water purifier in the shape of an oversized drinking straw that renders polluted water safe to drink as the user sucks up the water through it.
A first consignment of 10,000 LifeStraws is now ready to be distributed in the ravaged regions of Myanmar through international aid organisations, and further 53,000 will soon be on their way, reports national daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende.
"We are honoured and humbled that so many of our lifesaving products are on the way to Myanmar, where they will help reduce suffering and save lives on a massive scale,” says CEO Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen in a press release. “Our products are designed to be especially useful in emergency situations like this since they require no electricity, batteries or spare parts to operate effectively. ”
LifeStraw water purifiers have been developed as one of the means of achieving the UN’s Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the proportion of people living without sustainable access to safe water by the year 2015.