Myanmar: 6 months after cyclone 'Nargis' - Cyclone survivors need continued support

News and Press Release
Originally published
By: Astrid Sehl, UN Myanmar

Life is slowly returning to normal for the cyclone survivors in Myanmar, six months after 'Nargis' caused widespread devastation. Continued support is required to help all 2.4 million people affected back on their feet.

A significant segment of the affected population in the south costal regions of Myanmar has been reached by the UN agencies and its partners. On a recent field visit to Bogale Township, the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator Bishow Parajuli could se for himself the differences in level of humanitarian response in various villages.

"Although there are still areas that are being underserved, the overall results on the ground prove that there have been great humanitarian achievements during the past six months. This has been provided in good cooperation with the UN and the Myanmar authorities, ASEAN, national and international NGOs, and volunteers, with generous support from donors and the private sector. Now, continued support from all is needed to help the cyclone survivors to recover fully. Experience from comparable disasters such as the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, has showed that recovery efforts are required for years," says Parajuli.

Despite the devastation following Nargis, the much feared 'second wave of death' has been prevented. Over 170,000 health service consultations provided by the UN cluster partners have had a particular focus on preventing disease outbreaks and emergency nutrition problems. During these first six months after the disaster, there has been no significant increase in morbidity and mortality.

Parajuli stresses that there are still urgent needs, such as solving the potential water scarcity issue. Increased support is required to restore livelihoods and provide sustainable shelter. The agriculture sector is critically under-funded, with only 16 percent of the funding requirements met. The Revised Flash Appeal is now 53 percent funded, of the total USD 484,5 mill requested (FTS).

"While dealing with urgent needs and early recovery efforts, we are preparing for the longer-term recovery and rebuilding phase. Disaster Risk Reduction is a key component of the recovery programmes, in order to ensure that people are better prepared when facing the next natural disaster. Recovery efforts should aim at "building back better", says Parajuli.

The establishment of the Tripartite Core Group (TCG) in May, which includes the Government of Myanmar, ASEAN and UN, has been vital in fostering an environment of dialogue and cooperation, and hence in facilitating improved humanitarian assistance which directly benefits the affected people. The TCG continues to play a key role through the undertaking of 'Periodic Reviews' and a three-year recovery strategy.

Key Achievements

- Food aid delivered to 881,400 people through 14 cooperating partners

- Over 2,500 schools receiving support, directly benefiting over 500,000 children

- There has been no significant increase in morbidity and mortality

- 75 health facilities under rehabilitation

- Over 1.7 million people reached by some form of emergency shelter assistance

- Over 700,000 plastic sheets distributed, covering 70% of the estimate affected households (340,000 families)

- 8,725 families have access to sanitation facilities

- Over 670,000 people have been reached by hygiene promotion messages such as distribution of hygiene kits, soap, hygiene education pamphlets and posters

- 460,000 animals vaccinated

- 1,085 metric tons of rice seed distributed to 14 500 households

- 592 power tillers distributed, including packages comprising diesel, tools, training etc.

- 328 functional child-friendly spaces established benefiting 55,523 children

- 280 community support groups for children and women established

- Two UN helicopters have transported over 15,000 passengers and 4,800MT of cargo to 156 difference locations in the affected area