Delta residents struggle to recoup after flooding
RESIDENTS of the delta had hoped flood-proofing measures and early warnings would help to avoid a repeat of last year’s disaster. But with water finally starting to recede over the past 10 days, they are surveying the toll, and once again finding themselves in thick of a mud-strewn village, with their fields destroyed soon after planting.
In Pantanaw township, Ayeyarwady Region, residents are once again living on donations, U Bhone Win Aung, a village chief, said last week.Sein Kyun villagers depend on their betel crop, and also weave mats or work as day-labourers in the fields, he said, adding that the delta can be flooded three times a year.
“We’re waiting for the next high tide, but we don’t know when it will come, or how high it will rise,” he said. The last tide had raised the floodwaters to 9 feet [2.75 metres], rendering most of the homes uninhabitable. Only the village administrator’s house, the highest in the village, was left unscathed.
“The worst thing is the loss of the betel fields, and the fact that our woven mats have been destroyed. We had to build extra stages on top of our houses,” he said.
The village administrator, U Tin Zaw Khine, said the only aid that has reached them so far was from Grand Royal group, which provided 68 households with rice, noodles and water.
Grand Royal chair U Aung Moe Kyaw said, “We’re helping disasteraffected families with food supplies, working closely with the regional government throughout the flood zone.”
The local administration is supplying two sacks of rice, to be shared with other villages in the tract, residents say.
“When the floods came, we couldn’t cook, so we went into Pantanaw town and they gave us the rice,” said U Tin Zaw Khine.
Clean drinking water can be had only by pumping it up from tube wells, he said. He added that a single K80,000 hand-pump is currently serving 10 households.
Village chief U Bhone Win Aung said more donations are needed to help support families until they can resume working.
“Our health is fine. But many villagers will face unemployment even after the floods recede because they work as day labourers, so survival is going to be a struggle,” he said.
According to data from the UN, 84,000 people in the Ayeyarwady Region were affected by monsoon floods in July and August, making it the thirdworst hit state or region this year.