By Nant Nay Zar Tun (MRCS) in Myanmar
Kyone Thin village tract in the Ayeyarwady Delta was among those badly hit by Cyclone Nargis when it swept across the country in May 2008. Assessments made by the Myanmar Red Cross Society showed that 302 families (1,510 people) had great difficulty in returning to normal life. In response to these needs, the Red Cross provided several types of recovery assistance to this community including psychosocial support, water and sanitation, health, shelter and livelihoods.
Part of this assistance included the construction of a Red Cross ‘post’, which took 15 days to complete by five trained carpenters and 10 villagers. The design and building materials were provided by the Myanmar Red Cross Society, in consultation with village representatives and in keeping with local architecture. A Red Cross shelter technician based in this region also supervised the construction.
The availability of the post has made a big difference to the community in Kyone Thin. U Myint Lwin, chairman of the local recovery committee said: "We have used the post as an assembly point for villagers receiving assistance through the Red Cross asset recovery and household shelter projects. Health education sessions are also held by villagers who are trained Red Cross and community volunteers. The building also serves as a first aid post.”
In fact, the presence of trained Red Cross volunteers was among the criteria for the construction of Red Cross posts in cyclone-affected areas. In Kyone Thin village tract, which consists of five villages, there are 84 Red Cross volunteers who have been trained in basic first aid. While the post is situated in the village of Kyone Thin, it serves the needs of communities in the entire village tract.
Equipped with a rainwater collection tank, latrine and solar panel, the post also has three first aid kits, a stretcher, loud speaker, information, education and communications materials and furniture.
“I’m confident that the post will be useful for many community activities,” U Myint Lwin adds. Future plans on the use of the post include using it as a youth and training centre.
The way that the community in Kyone Thin is making use of its Red Cross post is in line with the Myanmar Red Cross Society’s overall aim to provide assistance that will help improve the resilience of vulnerable communities. The National Society is also receiving similar encouraging reports from other communities, with some using the posts as morning ‘schools’ or evening learning centres.
The entire Red Cross post project comprises the construction of a total of 100 Red Cross posts across 13 cyclone-affected townships; 93 posts have been completed so far.
The project is part of the Myanmar Red Cross Society’s operation in response to Cyclone Nargis, which provides various types of assistance to 100,000 families across 13 targeted townships. The assistance spans several sectors: shelter, livelihoods, health, psychosocial support; water, sanitation and hygiene promotion; and disaster preparedness and risk reduction. The three-year operation, which began in May 2008, is conducted with the support of the IFRC.