Two years after disaster struck the Ayeyarwady delta on 2 and 3 May 2008, many of the communities affected by the destruction caused by Cyclone Nargis have been able to restart and rebuilt their lives. However, for many communities re-building their lives is still a struggle.
The recovery efforts for the cyclone victims in the Ayeyarwady delta face serious challenges since the gains made since Cyclone Nargis could be lost if support for livelihood activities does not continue.
The gains made since Cyclone Nargis could be lost if support for livelihood activities does not continue
Similarly, the immediate challenge for Ko Aung Than Oo, 34, a casual labourer from one of the worst cyclone affected villages in Bogalay township, is to have a stable job to enable him to feed his family.
Another pressing issue is the shortage of water. Ma Cho Cho Win, a community worker with the United Nations Development Programme, said the 30 villages, that she visited during the last two weeks in Bogalay township, were facing severe water shortage, particularly drinking water.
It is estimated that more than 180,000 people are facing severe shortage of drinking water. The shortage could worsen as a delayed monsoon is predicted.
Nevertheless, the delta communities have shown a remarkable resilience in recovering from the worst natural disaster that the country has ever faced. They are confident that they are much better prepared, in the event of another natural disaster, since their level of awareness of disaster preparedness has increased thanks to the training they received from aid agencies.
The humanitarian community has, in cooperation with the Myanmar authorities, “placed the pot of rice on the stove”, to quote a common Myanmar expression meaning to set livelihoods back on track. But Daw Than Tin has appropriately adapted this expression to express her circumstances and that of her community. Like her, the humanitarian community too fears that the pot of rice would be ruined and wasted should the fuel run out before the rice is cooked.
Aye Win is the National Information Officer at the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Yangon and Thet Khaing is the Coordination Analyst at the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office in Yangon.