Cyclone victims trying to save their belongings. Photo: Oxfam Novib
Our humanitarian response has provided support to around half a million people so far

Myanmar cyclone

“The impact of the cyclone on people's lives and livelihoods was enormous and it will take many years to recover.”
Claire Light
Oxfam Country Director, Myanmar

Approximately 140,000 people were killed or went missing when Cyclone Nargis hit the southern part of Myanmar on May 2, 2008. The cyclone, which was the worst natural disaster in Myanmar and the 8th deadliest in the world, affected 2.4 million people in the Ayeyarwady Delta and Yangon and cost $4.1 billion in losses and damage.

According to Tripartite Core Group, only about $180 million has been received out of estimated $691 million needed between 2009 and 2011 to restore people's lives back to what they were before the cyclone.

Two years later

Oxfam is now working in Dedaye and Pyapon townships, and supports recovery efforts in eight cyclone-affected affected townships. We have assisted 500,000 people so far and spent approximately $14.8 million with partners on relief and recovery efforts over the last two years.

We are working through partner organizations ensuring access to safe water, rebuilding community ponds, giving materials to rebuild their homes, supporting the rebuilding of schools, building communal latrines and hand washing facilities and providing emergency food or establishing cash grants and cash-for-work opportunities.

The situation

Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar on 2 and 3 May 2008, sweeping through the Ayeyarwady Delta leaving around 140,000 people dead or missing. Around 2.4 million people were severely affected, with the cyclone damaging and destroying virtually everything in its path.

Around 790,000 houses were damaged or destroyed when the cyclone hit. Entire villages were wiped out overnight, along with people's main means of making a living – boats, nets, crops, tools, and livestock.

In the immediate aftermath of the cyclone donors responded very generously and aid was effective in reaching people in the delta to help with the immediate recovery effort. However, it will take years of sustained international support for the worst hit areas to fully recover.

Communities are still in need of support to help rebuild livelihoods. There is also a need for disaster risk reduction measures to help prevent and limit the impact of future disasters.


Working with partners we have provided emergency shelter materials to 53,000 families.

Our response has included providing material ranging from tarpaulin for emergency shelter and thatch, bamboo, wood and tools so that people can repair damaged or lost roofs, to all the material needed to build complete homes.

Besides offering shelter, this has enabled families to stay together and be in a position to start to rebuild their livelihoods.

I can't describe the happiness I felt when we heard we were getting this shelter. Before when we were staying in the tarpaulin shelter we felt hot, we were unhappy and we couldn't earn a living. When we got this house we could start to work again and now we own our own house and that makes me feel very, very happy.
- Khin Ohn, recipient of Oxfam shelter materials

Water and sanitation

Oxfam has been working with communities to develop ways of collecting water. This has included rehabilitating and constructing wells and ponds where needed, and developing water harvesting facilities. So far we've provided water-related support to 64,000 households.

We have been distributing water storage containers and hygiene kits to help enable people to have safer, cleaner water. More recently, we have been working with communities to rebuild latrines with new designs that are not only stronger and more resilient to flooding, but will also help prevent the spread of diarrhea.

Our work has also included training local volunteers as public health promoters to work within their communities to improve health and hygiene.

Our previous latrine was made with whatever we had and was destroyed in the cyclone. This one [provided by Oxfam] will be strong and fly proof. We'll share it with our neighbor.
- Daw Win Htay, recipient of an Oxfam latrine


In the initial months after the cyclone, Oxfam and our partners began providing assistance to help people restart earning a living so that they could at least begin to start meeting their daily needs.

Rice farmers were provided with 'recovery packs' including seeds, tools, hand tillers, and fertilizer. Timely distributions meant that farmers were able to harvest some rice this year.

Nets and boats have also been distributed to fishermen and women who lost their means of making a living when the cyclone hit. Other support includes the distribution of piglets, cash-for-work programs, and business support to people who had small businesses. So far we've given 37,000 households income generation, food and cash-for-work support.

Two years on, livelihoods continue to be a major challenge. Oxfam plans to continue this vital support to people and communities affected by the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis.

We used to have a pig before, but it was killed in the cyclone. After Nargis we couldn't afford to buy one ourselves, so when Oxfam gave us these piglets we were very happy. These piglets will make us more [financially] comfortable.
- Hla Aye, recipient of two piglets from Oxfam

How you can help

You can donate to the general emergency fund of your nearest national Oxfam affiliate. Your money will be used to fund our emergency work worldwide, which includes responding in countries such as Myanmar.

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