Flood Dis­as­ters in Myan­mar

The Global Digest (English) - - News -

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.

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