Myanmar Relief News July 2008

Inside Myanmar after Cyclone Nargis

 Inside Myanmar after Cyclone Nargis:
AMURT & AMURTEL Relief & Reconstruction Operations
July 30, 2008

1. Food and Non-Food Items Distribution
Location: Dedaye Township, Ayeyarwaddy Delta
No. of villages 24
No. of households 3,686
Total population 17,324
Tons of food distributed 110.5 t
Budget USD 160,500

AMURT & AMURTEL’s representative in Myanmar was in Yangon when Cyclone Nargis hit and was able to immediately initiate relief activities. Our distribution of basic food items started within days after the disaster. AMURT & AMURTEL acted as a well-wisher, with the relief goods delivered through our local partners.
We purchase the food items locally in bulk and repack them into household size packages. Proper assessments are done to ascertain the number of family members in order to calculate the entitlement of each household. AMURT & AMURTEL also coordinates with other relief agencies to exclude duplication of handouts.

Our policy is to reach out to the most remote villages where some of them had not eaten for several days. Most of them can be reached only by boat. From our packing warehouse in Yangon, the food packages are carried on trucks to Dedaye, the main town. They are then unloaded from the trucks and reloaded onto boats. Some river branches are too shallow to take heavy cargo, and many trips are needed.

Our distribution teams are now able to handle several villages in one trip because they now have storage contacts in the delta area so they do not need to return all the way to Yangon to reload the trucks. The villagers are also now coming in their own boats to collect the goods to be distributed in their villages. This saves our team time as well as transportation costs.
The Household Relief Kits contain pots and frying pans, mosquito nets, jerry cans for water storage and blankets.

2. Child-Friendly Spaces

Location: Dedaye Township, Ayeyarwaddy Delta
No. of villages 4
No. of children 186+
No. of teachers & social workers 16
No. of women 210
No. of infants 155
Duration of program 6 months
Budget USD 225,000/-

AMURT & AMURTEL is operating a Child Friendly Space program catering to children aged between 3 and 6 years old. It includes playgroup activity, informal education, trauma healing and supplementary feeding (1 cooked lunch a day and BP5 multi-nutrient biscuits).

The CFS structures consist of a timber frame with a tin roof and wooden floor. Sanitation is a problem in the delta area because of the high water table. Our engineers designed special filtering systems for proper excreta disposal in flooded areas. Modern tiled kitchens ensure quick and easy implementation of the feeding program.

The teachers and social workers are recruited from the village community. They are receiving multiple training sessions in early child psychology, psycho-social counseling and nutrition.

The CFS will be used for child programs in the morning. At noon, the place will be used for AMURT & AMURTEL’s supplemental feeding program for pregnant and nursing women and infants. This serves as a platform for our psycho-social program which enables young mothers to meet and provide mutual support to each other.

3. School Reconstruction

Location: Dedaye Township, Ayeyarwaddy Delta
No. of schools (primary/middle) 9/4
No. of students 1,037
No. of teachers 35
No. of classes 43
No. of toilets 34
Type of structure Semi-permanent
Budget USD 285,000/-

1,600 school buildings were destroyed or severely damaged during the cyclone. UNICEF requested AMURT & AMURTEL to assist in the effort to put up temporary structures so that the children can get back to school immediately. The Ministry of Education preferred more solid structures which would last 10 to 15 years. Our engineers worked out a design which is sturdy and cyclone-resistant made from local materials. We provide modern sanitation which can be easily maintained.
AMURT & AMURTEL gave priority to villages where there is no communal space available for interim schooling. Children are being taught in private houses which are unfit for the purpose. Teaching is complicated with one teacher taking care of several age groups in some cases. We are focusing on primary schools so that the education of the younger students is not disrupted.
AMURT & AMURTEL has been approached by local authorities as well as affected communities to build permanent school facilities in 30 other locations. We have started working on the designs of these schools for which we seek additional funding.

4. Integrated Village Reconstruction
Location: Dedaye Township, Ayeyarwaddy Delta
No. of villages 4
No. of destroyed houses 324
No. of beneficiaries 1,376
Type of structure Permanent
Budget USD 300,000/-

The basic infrastructure of vast stretches of the delta region, including towns and villages, has been totally ravaged. Approximately 400,000 families have been rendered homeless as their simple bamboo huts could not resist winds of more than 80mph. Most dwellers have lost their livelihoods and do not have the economic means to replace their devastated homes.

The challenges are manifold. On the one hand, our reconstruction effort should aim at risk-reduction vis-à-vis future cyclone hazards. Ideally, AMURT & AMURTEL should provide reinforced iron concrete houses. On the other hand, large scale rehabilitation of this kind must take into account the principle of cost-effectiveness, time factor and limited funding. Furthermore, differences in standard would cause friction and jealousy among villagers and communities.

As a member of the UN shelter cluster, AMURT’s design is in line with the recommendations of the international relief community. We offer 2 different models, one standard size for families of up to four members , and a larger unit for families with five and more members. A solid timber frame which can last for 15 plus years will be provided instead of the traditional bamboo frame.
AMURT will also assist the community to rehabilitate local infrastructure such as road access, water supply and a functioning sewerage system, health services, etc.

Donations are welcome!

Account Name: Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team (AMURT)
Account No: 3148 1515 07
Bank: Public Bank Berhad
Bank Branch: Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia