Myanmar: Cyclone Nargis: Huge funding gap and lots still to do

Six months on from the devastating Myanmar cyclone that killed 140,000 people and displaced 800,000 more, international development charity ActionAid warns that half of the UN's $482 million appeal to cover cyclone relief and recovery up to April 2009 remains unfunded.

The charity says that whilst people in the Ayeryarwady Delta are showing incredible resilience, there is still a lot left to do and that now is the time to start concentrating on long term recovery. This, it charges, requires money.

ActionAid's Head of Emergencies, Roger Yates said: "Despite difficult beginnings, the emergency response is now making relatively good progress, but villagers in the delta have told ActionAid that it will be five or six years before their lives are fully back to normal. Their confidence has been shattered, as have their livelihoods.

"It is essential that donors understand and continue to fund the long term rehabilitation of people's lives and communities."

Roger Yates also points out that it is important to prevent this kind of disaster having such a terrible impact ever again.

"Myanmar remains at real risk from cyclones. We know disaster prevention work saves lives and it's vital we help people in the region prepare for and cope with disasters. Strengthening existing buildings and raising awareness about how people can make themselves safer are key for the future."

To date, ActionAid has provided emergency relief to over 120,000 people in more than 400 villages. It has helped set up temporary shelters, mobile health clinics, planted more than 12,000 acres of paddy and repaired tillers as well as established cash for work schemes to provide clean water and repair buildings.

In addition, the charity is training volunteers in psychosocial skills, reaching out to vulnerable women and children left traumatised by the disaster.

ActionAid is also providing training on disaster prevention work to the Ministry of Social Welfare.