Myanmar

Integrating cash transfers to COVID-19 response: Myanmar Red Cross Society’s most local actions building community resilience in Rakhine

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Since March 2020, a total of MMK 193,514,600 (CHF 133,458) has been transferred to communities in central Rakhine through cash transfers via its multi-year resilience program to address the increasing humanitarian needs in Rakhine compounded by COVID-19.

Community Resilience Program (CRP)is a multi-year resilience program implemented by Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) with the support of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), continually funded by British Red Cross. The program integrated COVID-19 from March 2020 to support community-led actions for prevention and mitigation of socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 in central Rakhine. British Red Cross and Norwegian Red Cross contributed funding for these activities.

The program began in January 2017 responding to a protracted and evolving crisis which resulted in various needs from communities. Through the program, institutional capacity has been strengthened through village resilience committees, women’s revolving funds and volunteer groups, which promote accountability and social cohesion. Within a program framework of addressing basic needs and building community resilience, the program reached 30 villages with a population of 29,097 people (6,334 households) across the townships of Sittwe and Minbya. This encompasses multi-sectoral activities in Livelihoods, Health & Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). The program covers ethnic population of Rakhine (50%), Muslim (46%) and Chin (4%).

The program’s target communities have been affected by violence in Rakhine, as well as recurring natural disaster, in particular floods and cyclone, both directly and indirectly. Rakhine has additional vulnerabilities in relation to COVID-19, linked to high levels of displacement. Testing and health treatment facilities are limited. From 16 August, confirmed cases of local transmission have been recorded in Rakhine, requiring additional investments in community resilience to COVID.

The annual action plan of the program was modified in March 2020 to reflect the developing situation with COVID-19. Cash interventions were accordingly designed to meet urgent needs of the communities and to address long-term resilience building requirements related to COVID-19. The program was also expanded the outreach to other villages as part of these efforts.