Flood Disasters in Myanmar
The Chin State and its adjunct hills in the RakhaineYoma and Kaley valleys, and the surrounding areas, lie within the tropical climatic range. The most significant climatic variable is rainfall. The Chin hills have 3-5 months of rainy season (May-September). The soil is characterized by high sand and clay which yields a low permeability capacity in the topsoil. As a result, these soils are unable to absorb large and sudden volumes of water, which result in floods leading to landslides across the Chin hills and Rakhaine Yoma. This heavy rain and non-stop storms in western Myanmar have occurred since mid-July 2015 causing material damages to basic infrastructure (schools, houses, hospitals, roads, and farmlands). On 31 July, the President of Myanmar issued a statement declaring natural disaster zones in the Chin and Rakhine states and in the Sagaing and Magway regions, and the government is seeking international assistance (reliefweb). In broad terms, the floods affected are in 12 states and regions across Myanmar.
Later in August, evacuation resulted is 2.5 million displaced (Myanmar: initial response plan). According to an announcement from the Government of Myanmar, on September 2, the floods had caused 122 fatalities and affected 1.6 million people, while currently 476,000 households remain evacuated (unocha.org). An estimated 4,116 schools have been damaged, 608 of which have been destroyed. Over 143,000 children under the age of five are estimated to be affected by the floods (IOM). The government estimates that 1,029 kilometers of rural road and 824 bridges were destroyed across the country. The costs for repairing the roads alone will cost over 22 billion kyat. Similarly, over 28 billion kyat would be required to repair and compensate for damages to water supply, health, electricity, housing and rehabilitation. Dr. Soe Tuan of the Myanmar Rice Association, said that there are 1 million acres of farmland damage. Farm rebuilding will cost $80 million Kyat over three years time.
A report by Khin Zaw, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development, claimed that nearly 20,000 farmyard animals, plus an additional 200,000 chickens were lost. He said that, according to data from the Animal Husbandry and Veterinarian Department, a total of 5,701 cows, 134 mythuns (Chin cows), 3,005 buffaloes, 4,341 sheep and goats, 6,684 pigs, 3,983 ducks, 29 horses and 218,706 chickens were killed in floodrelated incidents. In addition, 315 animal housings, 36,655 kilograms of animal feed and 566 beehives were lost, he said, for a total economic loss of some 5.416 billion Kyat (bangkokpost). In summary, President Thein Sein said the total cost of the devastation caused by the floods would be in the vicinity of 165 billion Kyats (approximately $127 million). The initial flood response plan for Myanmar said $75.5 million is needed for 580,000 people until December 2015.
According to Byong Hyon Kwon, the chairman of Future Forest, and acts as Ambassador of United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Dry lands, linked the devastation as a consequence of deforestation caused by the degradation of plant cover and root systems in the soil. He strongly argues that flooding and desertification in Myanmar are human-made disasters. Myanmar’s quasi-military government has had a weak response to floods inundating swathes of the country which has hampered evacuation efforts. The government also threatened to prosecute anyone found spreading “false news relating to the natural disaster with the intention of frightening people” (abc.net.au). The media, of course, lacks of information and delayed reports caused further failure for relief work which couldn’t reach international aid on time. So far, Myanmar has received a small amount of international assistance. “The crisis which emerges after the rains will go on into the future, out of the media. However, the global community should be ready to provide assistance to the most vulnerable affected in such cases,” says Layne Hartsell (US).
Challenges for donors: There are fingers countable of small donations from the international community. The top 4 donors are US, UK, EU, Japan; they are mainly from governments. The private donations are still very low. The other donors from country agents and international organizations are much smaller scale assistances so far. In Asia, Japan is the only strong donor, Asian people’s private donations are also very low and almost none. The South Korean government has remained silent on the Myanmar flood disaster.
Our plan at Global Digest: Under these circumstances, the Global Digest media team realized there is no more time for waiting to respond to the Relief and Reconstruction for Myanmar flood victims. We will try to mobilize people from around the world, in order to create a fund for Myanmar. The Global Digest media team will make sure your donations though us are properly used and report back to the public in detail. We are dedicated to humanitarian service as much as our private capacity.