Myanmar

Cyclone GIRI 6 months on - Situation, achievements and challenges

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This report takes stock of six months of relief and recovery assistance provided by the humanitarian community, in partnership with the Government of Myanmar, following Cyclone Giri, which made landfall in the western coast of Myanmar’s Rakhine State on 22 October 2010. This natural disaster resulted in severe human losses and displacement as well as damage to houses and infrastructure, including roads and bridges in coastal areas. Official Government figures indicate that at least 45 people are dead or missing, over 100,000 people became homeless, and a total of 260,000 have been affected to some degrees as a result of the cyclone. At least 20,380 houses were completely destroyed, and a comprehensive joint assessment conducted three months after the cyclone indicated that in the worst-affected areas, as many as 91% of houses that had been destroyed/damaged were yet to be rehabilitated. Additionally, approximately 17,500 acres of agricultural lands and nearly 50,000 acres of aquaculture ponds were damaged by the Cyclone Giri.

The local authorities’ emergency response, supported by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), UN agencies and other humanitarian partners, covered the basic needs of most of the 260,000 people affected within three months from the disaster. Early and medium-term recovery efforts started immediately, to guarantee a quick return to normalcy for all those who suffered the worst impact of the Cyclone Giri.

Nearly 6 months on, however, needs still remain, especially in the shelter, food security and livelihoods (agriculture and embankments) sectors, including indebtedness due to loss of income opportunities. Partners continue to operate in the area with funding available, conscious of the fact that, as the next rainy season is approaching, many interventions will need to be concluded before the start of the rains.

Myanmar is a disaster-prone country, with floods, cyclones and earthquakes being the main risks. In recent years, significant loss of lives and livelihoods were caused by disasters such as Cyclone Nargis (May 2008), Cyclone Giri (October 2010) and the earthquake in Shan State (March 2011), to name a few. Whilst these events represented severe losses for the population, hindrances to development interventions and resulting gains in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, they did also result in increased cooperation between the Government, the international community and local organizations, as well as greater preparedness and response interventions.

In particular, over the past three years, the Government, together with the humanitarian and development aid community have invested in disaster risk reduction and disaster preparedness measures and programmes in support to communities, in order to reduce their vulnerability and increase their readiness in case of disasters.

At the same time, the emergency response has become progressively more timely and efficient, thereby minimizing the suffering of the affected population.

The international humanitarian community remains committed to supporting and complementing the government’s preparedness and response efforts, both in the immediate, and longer-term, with the generous support of donors community as well as the private sector, including for the immediate replenishment of stocks – largely depleted following the recent Shan earthquake - as part of disaster preparedness for the upcoming monsoon season.