Myanmar: Cyclone Mala (MDRMM001) DREF Bulletin

Situation Report
Originally published
The Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. It is the world's largest humanitarian organization and its millions of volunteers are active in over 183 countries.
In Brief

This DREF Bulletin is being issued based on the situation described below reflecting the information available at this time. CHF 50,000 (USD 39,667 or EUR 31,666) was allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to respond to the needs in this operation, or to replenish disaster preparedness stocks distributed to the affected population. This operation is expected to be implemented over three months, and will be completed by 30 July 2006. A Final Report will be made available three months after the end of the operation (by 31 October 2006). Unearmarked funds to repay DREF are encouraged.

This operation is aligned with the International Federation's Global Agenda, which sets out four broad goals to meet the Federation's mission to "improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity".

Global Agenda Goals:

  • Reduce the numbers of deaths, injuries and impact from disasters.

  • Reduce the number of deaths, illnesses and impact from diseases and public health emergencies.

  • Increase local community, civil society and Red Cross Red Crescent capacity to address the most urgent situations of vulnerability.

  • Reduce intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion and promote respect for diversity and human dignity.
Background and current situation

Tropical Cyclone Mala formed in the Bay of Bengal on 24 April 2006 and gradually built in strength and size over a period of five days when it came ashore on the morning of 29 April 29 on the western cost of Myanmar between Rakhine State and Ayeyarwady Division. At the time of making landfall, the cyclone was rated at category four (category five being the most severe) and lost its strength quickly.

The affected area includes the sparse western coast line of Myanmar, the Ayeyarwady delta.

As Mala moved inland its path crossed the townships of Gwa, ChaungTha, Labutta, Ngapudaw and Hinthada, which have all experienced severe storm damage to infrastructure and crops. The seasonal workforce living in the affected area and residing in basic huts have lost all their belongings. Some township clinics and schools have suffered minor damages; in their present capacity, they will not be able to maintain normal operations.

Further damage as a result of torrential rain in the Hinthada district caused flash floods, which drowned 18 persons and left 14 missing. The Southern coast of Myanmar (Labutta, Ngapudaw) experienced rising sea levels together with storm surges caused by cyclone winds. In addition to the damage caused by cyclone Mala, the Yangon township of Hlaingtharya was hit by a strong storm at on 28 April, killing two persons, injuring 12 and damaging 586 houses and some industrial structures.

The overall impact of cyclone Mala has been limited due to effective early warning messages and the preventive evacuations of communities within its path. As a result there have only been two reported deaths during the most critical time and strength of the cyclone.

Communications lines are normally unreliable and after the cyclone, much of civilian communications to the affected area were cut. Early telecommunications connections to Thandwe and Gwa were restored by 30 April. According to initial information from the coastal regions, the affected populations are taking the initiative with the rehabilitation of damaged houses, utilizing basic material such as bamboo, which is locally available.

Please refer to the map (Annex 1) to see details of the affected areas and the damages caused by the cyclone.

Red Cross and Red Crescent action

Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) volunteer response groups were alerted to assist in warning the population in the forecasted areas of impact. At the same time, the regional warehouses in Pathein (Ayeyarwady), Sittwe and Kyaukpyu (Rakhine) prepared response equipment and relief items for possible distribution. ICRC was also on early standby for possible logistical support.

Township volunteer groups disseminated early warning messages on 28 April and assisted the local population in evacuating the areas at risk. After the immediate storm, the volunteers assessed the situation together with local authorities and assisted in clearing structural damages, roads and access routes.

The Federation delegation disaster management delegate, together with the MRCS disaster preparedness/disaster response division evaluated possible scenarios on 27 April and on the same day made initial contact with state-level volunteer leaders. Two Disaster Assessment and Response Teams (DART) were sent to areas affected by the cyclone. The first team returned to Yangon on 3 May from the coastal area of Gwa with the results of their assessments and made recommendations of needs, including food aid and temporary shelter materials. The second DART team conducted a short review mission to Pyay township on 30 April.

The needs

The Myanmar division (state) Red Cross released initial relief items from its local preparedness warehouses. Further local purchases for additional non-food items and replenishment of preparedness stocks are still needed. There are special needs at the outermost coastal areas where three- to four-metre rises of sea level wiped out major parts of seasonal dwellings. As the rebuilding of housing has started, MRCS is planning to provide plastic sheeting to as roofing material. At present, the identified needs for distribution and replenishment are 1,200 units of a 15-item family set.

MRCS is planning to improve the dissemination capacity of its response groups by providing portable speaker systems. These systems are planned to assist in alerting communities during any emergencies.


A Federation local staff member (a disaster preparedness officer) supported the MRCS headquarters assessment team (DART1) during the field assessment.

The first joint national Federation, UN and international NGO coordination meeting was held on 3 May to share field team findings. The meeting issued a joint press statement outlining the needs identified from the initial assessments.

Information on the cyclone was shared regularly through the Federation's communication channels. Daily updates were posted through the Disaster Management Information System (DMIS), and an information bulletin was issued on the Federation's website. A news story was also published on 3 May with the collaboration of the Federation regional delegation.

Annex 1

Map: Myanmar: Tropical Cylcone Mala: - Situation map no.2

For further information in this operation, please contact:

Myanmar Red Cross Society: Dr. Hla Myint (president); email:; Phone: +95.1.383.680; Fax: +

Federation delegation in Myanmar: Bridget Gardner (head of delegation); e-mail:; Phone: +95.138.3686; Fax: +95.138.3682 or Heikki Väätämöinen (disaster management delegate); e-mail:; Phone: +95.138.3686; Fax: +95.138.3682; Mobile: +

Federation regional delegation in Bangkok: Bekele Geleta (head of regional delegation); email:; Phone: +66.2.640.8211; Fax: +66.2.640.8220

Federation secretariat in Geneva: Josse Gillijns (regional officer, Asia Pacific department); email: Phone: +44.22.730.4224; Fax: +41.22.733.0395 or Sabine Feuglet (regional officer, Asia Pacific department); email:; Phone: +41.22.730.4349; Fax: +41.22.733.0395

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Disaster Relief and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response (Sphere) in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable.

For longer-term programmes in this or other countries or regions, please refer to the Federation's Annual Appeal. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, or for national society profiles, please also access the Federation's website at