LIFT, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation alleviate livelihood loss in Rakhine State

Report
from International Rescue Committee
Published on 13 Oct 2015

Yangon, 13 October 2015 –Hundreds of Rakhine State villagers whose livelihoods were destroyed by the Cyclone Komen floods are reclaiming their means of income thanks to financial support from The Livelihood and Food Security Trust Fund, LIFT, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Tat Lan programme is funded by LIFT, and the Fund allocated US$214,000 to support the flood recovery. In 68 Tat Lan villages in Minbya and Myebon, where 26,162 acres of paddy plantation was damaged or destroyed, 1,600 baskets of fast growing paddy seed were distributed to farmers who wept when they looked at the ruin in their fields.

3,967 landless, casual workers, who lost their paddy related employment, were chosen to participate in social protection, cash–for-work projects. With urgency, they restored 24 sources of fresh water for villages, and rebuilt 2.5 miles of damaged embankments before the emergency-relief paddy seeds could be planted.

A donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has provided nets and crab traps for more than 400 small scale fishers in 42 villages, whose fishing equipment was washed away by the floods.

Another 300 vulnerable households have been given gardening training, seeds and gardening tools to replace lost income. The floods destroyed vegetable seedlings that were expected to be a source of income for primarily female-headed households in communities where Tat Lan has encouraged people to grow a variety of vegetables to improve community access to nutritious food, and to provide incomes for financially challenged villagers.

The majority of villagers in the Tat Lan development programme are living in extreme poverty on less than $1.25 a day. When they lose their fragile means of income these people are forced to borrow from money lenders, just to buy food, said the International Rescue Committee, IRC, Country Director Ralf Thill. “Debt cripples these communities. We are grateful for every support we can give people to reclaim their livelihoods,” said Thill.

IRC’s Tat Lan Coordinator in Myebon, Cherry Soe, was moved by the villagers’ appreciation. “Farmers told me they cried when they looked out at their fields and saw they were ruined. Then, their eyes filled with tears of appreciation when they received a basket of paddy seed to replant their acres. ‘Thank you IRC and Tat Lan’, they said. I felt emotional myself when I saw their tears, and I felt proud to be on Tat Lan’s IRC team,” said Soe.

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Tat Lan is a five year development programme building resilience through sustainable food security, improved nutrition, water, sanitation, hygiene, and livelihoods in vulnerable Rakhine State communities. Funded by the multi-donor trust fund LIFT until 31st December, 2018, Tat Lan is being extended to work in 253 villages in Myebon, Minbya, Pauktaw and Kyaukphyu.

For more information please contact:
Jennifer Macintyre, Tat Lan Communications Manager, (+95) 9421144560
Jennifer.Macintyre@rescue.org