Myanmar: Cyclone Rakhine Appeal No. 14/2004 Final Report

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In Brief

Appeal No. 14/04; Period covered: 4 July 2004 - 30 September 2004; Final Report; Appeal coverage: 92% (including direct transfers in support of appeal objectives to the Myanmar Red Cross); (The Final Financial Report is delayed and will be ready at the end of December.)

Appeal history: Launched on 4 June 2004 for CHF 201,000 (USD 163,770 or EUR 134,204) for three months to assist 14,000 beneficiaries.

Appeal budget has been revised and doubled at 30 June after receiving latest evaluation reports - to CHF 414,000 for 25,000 beneficiaries - and the project extended by one month to 30 September to accomplish last distributions.

Disaster Relief Emergency Funds (DREF) allocated: N/A

Related Emergency or Annual Appeals: Myanmar Annual Appeal 2004 (Appeal No. 01.65/2004); SoutheastAsia Regional Appeal 2004 (Appeal No. 01.66/2004)

Background

Rakhine is a sparsely populated, coastal state (population 2.7 million) in the southwest of Myanmar, covering 14,200 square miles. Sittwe, the state capital, is the biggest city. The Rakhine people generally depend on fishing, prawn breeding, farming and salt production for their livelihood.

On 19 May, a cyclone, reportedly the worst to strike the area since 1968, generated winds of up to 160kph blowing in from the Bay of Bengal into the area near Myanmar's eastern border with Bangladesh. The cyclone affected areas including the townships of Sittwe, Myae Bon, Pauk Taw, Myauk Oo, Ponnar Kyun, Min Byar, Kyauk Phyu, Ann and numerous islands off the coast. Local authorities reported damage to houses, offices and religious buildings, schools, dams, embankments and prawn breeding ponds, while many motor and rowing craft were sunk.

At the request of the Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS), an emergency appeal was launched on 4 June 2004. The overall goal of the appeal was to provide immediate assistance to those affected and in the longer term, to reduce risk of disaster and enhance the resilience of some of the most vulnerable people in Myanmar. The appeal budget was revised and doubled on 30 June 2004. This was to cover increased needs based on a joint assessment by MRCS and the Federation, after which the number of affected people significantly increased from initial reports to 25,000 (over 4,600 households).

Summary

The programme undertaken by the Myanmar Red Cross (MRCS) to assist 25,000 people in Rakhine state following a severe cyclone in mid May 2004, has marked a significant milestone in the Society's development. During the four month operation, supported by the International Federation, the MRCS provided and, for the first time, directly distributed essential food and non food items to the most affected areas, fulfilling its role as the country's leading humanitarian organisation.

The strength of its volunteer network was demonstrated particularly through active participation in rescue and evacuation work in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, while established training regimes proved their worth as the operation matured. Inevitably, there are lessons to be learned, but overall the experience gained will stand the Society in good stead ahead of future emergencies - especially in its professional relationships with national and local authorities.

The general success of the operation was made possible by strong support from the Society's partners through the appeal, which was revised and doubled at the end of June. Including direct contributions from sister Societies to MRCS to complete the longer term elements, the appeal was almost fully covered..

Coordination

MRCS plays an official role in providing auxiliary humanitarian services in official government relief operations. Good cooperation and common understanding between the Myanmar government and MRCS were further developed as a result of the launch of an emergency appeal. This operation was the first of its kind, as MRCS delivered relief items directly to beneficiaries through its own channels without special involvement from the National Disaster Relief Committee (NDRC). This approach was made possible through the advocacy of the headquarters assessment team that cooperated closely with regional commanders by explaining Red Cross procedures at the beginning of operations.

The relief operation was coordinated closely with participating organisations: World Food Programme (WFP), Bridge Asia Japan (BAJ) and Myanmar Maternal and Child Welfare Association (MMCWA). Contributions from these and other donors were implemented by NDRC. MRCS received local donations from several private donors and BAJ. MRCS headquarters staff kept NDRC informed during all phases of the emergency operation that were carried out by the Red Cross. WFP provided 200 MT of rice for government distribution, BAJ donated MMK 4.5 Million (CHF 928,078) for Red Cross to purchase relief goods. MMCWA together with smaller private donors supported MRCS with direct contributions of cash and goods.

The IFRC delegation in Myanmar cooperated closely with all MRCS headquarters actions at state level during assessment, procurement and distributions. The delegation maintained close contacts with donor societies during the operation and also participated with a group from headquarters during monitoring and evaluation trips. The IFRC Southeast Asia regional delegation supported the country delegation with regular communications during the start of the operation. It also held regular contact with the Geneva Secretariat to provide accurate information of the situation at Myanmar.

The IFRC delegation provided information and supported other interested agencies with published facts and figures. An article highlighting good examples of volunteer commitment as evident in the Rakhine operation was published on the IFRC website. This can be accessed at http://www.ifrc.org/docs/news/04/04062401/.

Analysis of the operation - objectives, achievements, impact

The impact of the cyclone was felt in eight townships, five of which were particularly hard hit. Rakhine state organised relief and assistance operations in the region; on 20 May an assessment group was sent from MRCS headquarters to support the Sittwe branch with damage and needs assessment. The first estimate put the number affected at 2,500 families (12,500 beneficiaries).

Immediate rescue efforts formed the first phase of operations. Red Cross volunteers participated from the very beginning, assisting their own local communities to establish evacuation centres at schools and monasteries and helping people to reach them. During the evacuation process, volunteers acted as supporting staff to health personnel at the centres. They participated immediately after the storm helping to clear roads, ditches and water ponds. These ponds are essential sources of water and most of them were polluted with seawater and mixed waste after the storm.

The authorities launched an emergency relief assistance appeal to assist rehabilitation work, which received good response from well-wishers, concerned business entities and local NGOs in terms of cash and in kind contributions. The national society itself responded promptly, sending 250 family packs, each comprising 24 items of relief supplies from the Yangon warehouse, to assist the most vulnerable people. Consignments were sent on 24 and 29 May and distributed in the first week of June.

MRCS officially launched an Emergency Appeal with support from the IFRC country delegation on 4 June to assist 14,000 beneficiaries over a three-month period.

The MRCS/IFRC evaluation team was also well-placed in the area to survey the public health situation. There were no outbreaks of waterborne or other diseases in the affected area. Red Cross volunteers from Sittwe also took part in damage and needs assessment with the national headquarters Disaster Assessment and Response Training (DART) team. The assessment information was delayed due to difficulties in transportation and communication reaching the affected area. During this evaluation it was clear that the number of affected families was higher than originally estimated. The figure agreed with NDRC was increased to 4,628 families.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In Myanmar: Dr Kyaw Win, President, email: mrcsem@mptmail.net.mm, Phone: + 951 383681, Fax: 383 675

In Myanmar: Joanna MacLean, Head of Delegation email:ifrcmm01@redcross.org.mm,

Heikki Väätämöinen, DM delegate ifrcmm02@redcross.org.mm, Phone: +951383686, 383682

In Bangkok : Dr. Ian Wilderspin, Head of Regional Disaster Management Unit, email: ifrcth22@ifrc.org, Phone:+ 66 2 6408211, Ext.422;Fax: 66 2 640 8220

In Geneva: Regional Department, Charles Evans/Sabine Feuglet, Southeast Asia Desk, email : Charles.Evans@ifrc.org or Sabine.Feuglet@ifrc.org, Phone: +41 22 730 4320/4456, Fax: 41 22 733 03 95

All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, or for a full description of the national society profile, please access the Federation's website at http://www.ifrc.org

For longer-term programmes, please refer to the Federation's Annual Appeal.

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