IOM launches post-cyclone psychosocial project in Myanmar

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Myanmar - IOM has launched a project to enhance community capacity to heal the psychosocial scars left behind by Cyclone Nargis - the lethal storm that swept through Myanmar's Irrawaddy delta six months ago.

The six-month, £400,000 (USD 650,000) project, which is funded by the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID), will be implemented in close collaboration with local and international partners including the University of Yangon's Department of Psychology, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Save the Children, local NGOs, Buddhist leaders and local media.

It aims to provide community-based psychosocial training for up to 3,000 community and religious leaders and teachers, together with 150 local and international NGO staff working in the delta townships of Bogale, Mawlamyinegyune and Pyapon.

It will include training community-level helpers, training trainers from local and international NGOs, raising awareness of mental illness and psychosocial distress, and reducing the stigma attached to it.

"The people we train will bring psychosocial support to village communities in an area where some 130,000 people died and perhaps three quarters of all housing was destroyed. We believe that as many as half a million people in the delta may still need help to overcome the psychological trauma, in order to start rebuilding their lives and livelihoods," says IOM Regional Health Manager Dr. Nenette Motus.

IOM, which also played a leading role in psychosocial rehabilitation following the 2004 tsunami in Aceh and the 2006 earthquake in Yogyakarta, coordinates the work of the Myanmar Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Technical Working Group set up within the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Health Cluster following the cyclone.

IOM sub-offices in Bogale, Pyapon and Mawlamyinegyune, which currently support ongoing IOM programmes in health and reconstruction, will also support the psychosocial programme. Five IOM temporary clinics established in remote areas will also play a key role in allowing cyclone survivors to access the help offered by the project.

For more information please contact:

Federico Soda
IOM Yangon


Dr. Nenette Motus
IOM Bangkok