Only piles of sand­bags hold back Myan­mar’s rag­ing rivers

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS - Jaiden Coo­nan

Last week Pres­i­dent U Thein Sein called for the evac­u­a­tion of low-ly­ing ar­eas of the Aye­yarwaddy Re­gion as rag­ing wa­ter in some ar­eas of the delta was reach­ing dan­ger­ous heights. Floods from a heavy mon­soon sea­son have cut through swathes of South and South­east Asia in re­cent weeks, claim­ing hun­dreds of lives and dis­plac­ing mil­lions.

Twelve of Myan­mar’s 14 re­gions have been struck, with of­fi­cials say­ing 74 peo­ple have been killed and more than 330,000 af­fected -- many forced into monas­ter­ies and schools as wa­ters grow be­gin to grow, while oth­ers shrink.

OCHA re­leased in­for­ma­tion col­lected from Au­gust 4 stat­ing that the Aye­yarwaddy Re­gion, Bago and Yan­gon, home to some 3.3 mil­lion peo­ple, are in dan­ger of fall­ing vic­tim to the flood­ing cri­sis that has crip­pled north­ern and mid parts of the coun­try.

Food and clean wa­ter sup­plies are slowly mak­ing their way into Chin State and ru­ral parts of the coun­try, but the slow com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and some­times lack there of, is tar­nish­ing the re­lief ef­fort.

In a mes­sage broad­cast on ra­dio early Thurs­day, Pres­i­dent Thein Sein said ar­eas near the Ir­rawaddy were at risk as the river rises “above dan­ger level”.

“As we can­not pre­vent nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, I urge fel­low cit­i­zens to move to safer places... it’s the best way,” he said, adding Hinthada and Nyaung Don town­ships along the river were in im­me­di­ate dan­ger.

Spon­ta­neous lo­cal NGO with­out a name but call them­selves “Kalay Flood Plains Res­cue,” a team of farm­ers and phi­lan­thropists from Kalaymyo Town­ship. They’ve taken it upon them­selves to dis­trib­ute aid to vil­lages a one and half hour boat ride away.

“It floods ev­ery year but not this bad, this is the worst in over 100 years! We could deal with the mud and wa­ter… but not like this,

It is be­cause of the heavy rains in Chin State that have caused all the mud from the moun­tain side to run down into the fields and make the ground very muddy in places, we don’t know what to do,” said Thant Sin Lin, mem­ber of Kalaymyo Flood Plains Ef­fort.

Adding, “It’s global warm­ing!”

For some vil­lagers, a boat is now the best way to get around. Photo: Jaiden Coo­nan

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