Two years after Cyclone Nargis killed 138,000 people and destroyed the homes of almost 2.4 million, Myanmar’s resilient and courageous people say life is improving but overall it is not yet as good as it was before the storm. The road to recovery is long and slow.
In the Ayeyarwaddy Delta, an estimated one million Cyclone Nargis survivors, who need urgent housing assistance, are huddled under temporary shelters preparing to face their third monsoon season. They are a forgotten people.
Saw Oo and his family of 7 count themselves lucky. Now earning US$2 a day working a rice threshing machine, Saw Oo is beginning to repay the US$500 he borrowed to feed and house his family after Cyclone Nargis destroyed their world.
“I was desperate when I lost my paddy field. I could not provide food for my family,” he said. His income is just US$1,000 per year. Saw Oo’s children were pulled out of school and the family survived on loans, which created a noose of debt around their necks.
Collectively, 29 international NGOs working in Myanmar have appealed to embassies to request money from their countries to support the plight of these resilient survivors.
World Vision Myanmar’s Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs Director, Win Zin Oo, said: “The people of the Delta are incredibly resilient but they could do so much more if there was increased international funding. Strengthening the communities’ resilience is critical because the Delta is prone to cyclones and heavy monsoons.
To date, World Vision has assisted 347,000 people with aid, and provided a rehabilitation programme for 109,000 people in 143 villages.
Saw Oo is one of thousands who work every day to pay off their crippling debts. Despite this Saw Oo’s family appreciates what he has received. The ducks World Vision provided under it’s livelihood assistance programme are now rapidly breeding, improving the family’s food security and allowing them to sell the eggs to raise funds for their children’s school fees.
“Education gives our children hope,” said Saw Oo’s wife, Thin Thin.
You can read about World Vision’s response to Cyclone Nargis here.