Myanmar: Assisting farmers through Cash-for-Work initiatives
"We do not own farmland, so we work for other farmers during the plantation and harvest seasons. I earned 100,000 kyat in the previous harvest," Htay, a native from Yay Za Ngu village in Mawlamyinegyun Township said.
During the off-season, Htay has to rely on her son's earnings as a daily wager. Htay's husband, two daughters and niece died during the cyclone that hit their village on 2 May. Consequently, Htay had to spend her 100,000 kyat income, not only to provide meals for her family, but also to offer alms and offertories to monks in memory of her deceased family members.
"I am glad that I will soon be able to work and earn again, as the next paddy plantation season will begin in two months time," Htay said.
Farmers in Htay's village could only restart paddy plantation several months after the cyclone since they had lost their seeds and resources due to the storm's strong winds and destruction.
In the aftermath, UNDP provided in-kind support in the form of power tillers, seeds, diesel and fertilizers to farmers to restart paddy plantation. UNDP facilitated the formation of farmers groups and ensured these groups received financial support. UNDP also provided financial support under the Cash-for-Work Program. With such help, farmers could hire casual laborers like Htay to work for them.
After harvest season, farmers who received financial support are required to repay to their respective farmers group in-kind or in-cash equivalent of the assistance they received.
In some villages, the village Early Recovery Committees (ERCs), also established with the facilitation of UNDP, take care of gathering repayments from farmers groups in the village. Farmers groups and ERCs save those repayments in a common village bank account. A portion of the amount collected in the village bank account will be used as a capital for farmers when the next plantation season arrives, while another portion of the collected amount will be used to support most vulnerable households and poorest of the poor in the villages.