Myanmar: WFP to open food-for-work project in Delta

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The international aid agency World Food Program (WFP) has announced plans to open a "food-for-work" project in the Irrawaddy delta in December, with the aim of helping survivors of the May 2-3 cyclone recover their lives, according to the WFP in Rangoon.

"Most of the projects will be implemented in the southern part of the region, which has been the most affected by the cyclone," said Chris Kaye, country director for WFP in Rangoon.

The food-for-work (FFW) project will focus on "construction, repair and maintenance of roads and water production and control, such as construction of wells, dikes, dams, ponds and drainage ditches."

It will also include rescuing land through clearing, leveling, reforestation, irrigation and drainage, said Kaye.

He said that construction of community buildings such as schools, social centers, health centres and agricultural development that increase food production will be included in the food-for-work project.

WFP estimated that about 40,000 people will be involved in the food-for-work process and will be provided with family rations.

Meanwhile, local authorities in Bogalay Township ordered many of the people in 27 rehabilitated villages in Kyunetharyar Township to relocate so that only 11 functioning villages remain, according to sources in Bogalay.

The 11 villagers which will take on the displaced villagers include Armaka, Danyein Phyu, Mondine Gyi and Mondine Lay.

One source who requested anonymity said that many villagers are unhappy with the order as they have already built their houses and recovered their agriculture. Some have had to spend a lot of time and effort working their fields, he said.

Local nongovernmental organizations are also unhappy with the move as they have already assisted villagers with the reconstruction of wells and schools in the area, and spent much money on recovery.

WFP said it has conducted a food-for-work needs assessment in the delta, and found that some villages have achieved a certain level of recovery but still need some support in order to restore their pre-Cyclone Nargis living conditions.

The global aid agency said that the current situation in the delta calls for an increased attention to early recovery and the reconstruction of livelihoods.

Another international aid agency, the UK-based Save the Children, said that the cyclone survivors are still struggling. It expressed its concern over the safe water crisis which is threatening thousands in the Irrawaddy delta.

Sources in the delta said that people in some villages in Bogalay travel to other villages and carry water home because they can't consume the water in their own villages. They said the wells are still contaminated with dirty water and the stench of decomposed corpses.

"In order to increase the availability of clean water, WFP is also considering FFW activities that involve water production such as construction of wells, dikes, dams, and ponds," said Kaye.