Heavy torrential rains during Myanmar’s monsoon season have battered the country over the last few weeks, during times in which water levels are already high as part of seasonal changes. These intensified rains - the result of a cyclone forming over the Bay of Bengal - have exacerbated the severity of the floods, forcing more than 80,000 people across the country to leave their homes and find safe havens - in make-shelters, with relatives, or at evacuation sites. The southern provinces Bago, Kayin, and Mon, have been hit the hardest, with over 60,000 people displaced (source: UNOCHA).
Road access to several areas has been completely blocked off, and travel per boat is the only way to reach some of these areas - with trips lasting over 4 hours one-way. With more heavy rain forecasted, the situation of people living in these areas is very likely to deteriorate if assistance is not provided. Many of those affected were already internally displaced by armed conflict in the Rakhine state.
The Start Fund was alerted to the crisis on the 14 August 2019 by Action Against Hunger, Catholic Relief Services, Christian Aid, HelpAge International, International Rescue Committee, Islamic Relief, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, Trocaire and World Vision. Responding immediately, the Start Fund was activated and awarded funding to Christian Aid, Help Age International and World Jewish Relief for a 45 day response.
A rapid response on the ground
Harnessing their collective experience of already working in the region and good coordination, the awarded agencies response focus is on food security, water and sanitation activities.
Christian Aid are working with local prominent organisation, Karen Baptist Convention, to reach 3000 affected families with hygiene kits to helping prevent the breakout of waterborne diseases and emergency food parcels.
The heavy flooding has damaged roads and infrastructure, crippling access to clean water whilst washing away livelihoods and inflating food prices in the Kayin state. Focusing on vulnerable households, World Jewish relief are distributing 12,000 food parcels containing essential items such as oil, salt, and staple food items to ensure affected families which may suffer from food shortages have a necessary supply of nutrition for one month.
Working across 11 villages in the Kayin state and 10 villages in the Bago region, HelpAge International are working with Township Network Committees and Older People Self Help Groups to reach remote communities in Kayin and Bago state with hygiene kits (including water purification, soaps, toothpaste/brushes, towels, and sanitary pads) essential food items (including rice, oil, canned fish, salt, beans, dried noodles, tea leaves), shelter and essential items (including tarpaulin and nylon rope, blankets, mosquito nets, sleeping mats, and torchlights) for those whose homes have been damaged.
Affected people received essential items in a HelpAge International distribution
Continued torrential downpour has led to floods washing away livelihoods leaving the already vulnerable without basic essentials
HelpAge International’s activities is focused on reaching the needs of vulnerable groups such as the elderly, pregnant or lactating women and those with disabilities, ensuring medical kits are also available for each village and mobile medical trips are also set up to conduct check-ups and provide consultations and medicine.
The crisis response fits the Start Fund profile of being a rapid response, underreported situation where a short-term intervention can make a meaningful lifesaving difference to those affected by the floods.
Read more about the Start Fund.