Myanmar cyclone two years on: Aid effort only a quarter funded as survivors face another monsoon season

Published: 2nd May 2010

International aid agency Oxfam called for additional funding for the 2008 Cyclone Nargis survivors in Myanmar today, saying the upcoming monsoon season is posing a serious threat to their recovery with shelter still a pressing need and agriculture at risk.
“Two years into the current three-year international appeal for Myanmar’s recovery, only about a quarter of the money needed has been pledged. The aid successes of helping rebuilding lives are at risk if people cannot secure their homes. Money is also needed for providing drinkable water and improving sanitation and livelihood. The international community was generous when Myanmar’s crisis was on our TV screens, it should not look away now,” Oxfam’s spokesperson for Myanmar Country Program Grace Ommer said.
According to Tripartite Core Group, a mechanism comprising the Myanmar government, the Association of South East Nations (ASEAN), and the United Nations established to oversee relief and recovery efforts, 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.

The aid successes of helping rebuilding lives are at risk if people cannot secure their homes.
Grace Ommer
Oxfam’s spokesperson for Myanmar Country Program

Notes to editors

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 the TCG, aid money to two crucial sectors for people’s recovery, shelter and agriculture, fell short by 60 per cent of the $158 million needed for last year’s recovery work alone.
  • In the Post-Nargis periodic Review II, it was found that apart from lack of assets and capital, which leads to lack to affordable credit access, critical needs remain in house repair, shelter, education, and water sanitation. Ninety-three percent of the households surveyed also could not afford their house repairs as they were severely or completed destroyed, with 74 per cent of the households citing adequate shelter as one of their most pressing needs.
  • An Oxfam assessment conducted this year also confirmed that one of the greatest obstacles faced by survivors is their inability to access credit. Many people whose credit-worthiness within their communities is low are excluded from this cycle. Therefore, initiatives by aid agencies to facilitate greater access to credit and networks have eased their burden significantly.
  • Statistics by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development showed that Myanmar received around $11 per person in 2008, while Cambodia, also an extremely poor country, received almost $52 per person.

What we have done: 

Oxfam is now working through partner organizations 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.

  • Ensuring access to safe water for 64,620 households through drilling of tube wells up to 560 feet which guarantee water’s cleanliness, the distribution of ceramic filters, water jars and containers so that people can collect, treat and store water safely,
  • Rebuilding  community ponds - this includes improved fencing to keep out animals, timber bridges, sand filters to remove impurities, and improvements to water collection points. This is still an ongoing work as the current basic healthcare services in the Delta are not yet well equipped
  • Giving materials to over 53,000 households to rebuild their homes and protect their families from the weather. The need for shelter remains an issue with approximately 160,000 households across the Delta requiring assistance
  • Supporting the rebuilding of schools, childhood care and development centers and providing school supplies, uniforms, and books, benefiting almost 19,000 students
  • Working with partners to build communal latrines and hand washing facilities. Oxfam is also promoting safe hygiene practices by carrying out demonstrations on safe water, latrine cleaning, safe food preparation, hand washing and soap distribution
  • Providing training, tractors, fuel, seeds, fruit trees, fertilizer, pigs, farming tools, boats, fishing nets and equipment to 11,500 households so they can continue farming and fishing. Together with its partners, Oxfam has provided training on organic farming techniques, compost making, establishing nurseries, pig raising, crab and eel fattening, animal husbandry techniques, and disease control
  • Providing emergency food or establishing cash grants and cash-for-work opportunities for over 26,400 households to help them recover and diversify small business opportunities
  • Conduct training to strengthen the ability of local organizations to manage finances, build confidence, and increase participation, particularly of women. Working with communities to strengthen their ability to prepare for and protect themselves against future disasters
  • Jetty construction in Chaungwa village on Pyinkhayine Island. This jetty is a lifeline for almost 18.000 population of the island.