Myanmar cyclone three years on

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Survivors of cyclone Nargis which hit Myanmar (Burma) three years ago are continuing to face hardship as a result of the storm.

The damage caused by the sea flooding vast areas of farm land is still posing food supply problems for people in the badly affected Ayeyarwaddy Delta area.

Tearfund partners have been helping the recovery effort since Nargis left a trail of destruction, killing 140,000 people and affecting 2.4 million others.

While much has been achieved when it comes to rebuilding homes and incomes, the legacy of the cyclone makes that work challenging.

Salt water in the soil still hampers crop yields, while the region’s fishermen report fish stocks have not recovered.

A Tearfund partner spokesman said, ‘Most sectors have not yet recovered to pre-Nargis levels, certainly not in terms of food security and livelihoods but had there been no intervention it would have been way worse. Housing and healthcare have recovered the best.

‘In terms of agriculture, it’s a very complicated situation. The intrusion of salt water has affected yields. There are also problems caused by rat infestations.’

On top of this, in some places agricultural land availability is being reduced by the spread of big rubber plantations.

Tearfund partner staff are helping communities by replacing livestock lost in the cyclone, such as oxen and buffalo, as well as machinery, such as threshing machines and rice mills.

Rice banks have been established so people facing hunger can access rice and then pay it back with a small amount extra when they have a successful harvest.

Self-help groups and financial backing, such as loans to purchase seeds, fertilisers and tools, are also supporting hard-pressed farmers. Access to credit is otherwise not easy to find and where it is available it can be accompanied by high interest rates.