Thursday, May 5, 2011

Increasing Rice Prices in Cyclone-Affected Areas Hurt Victims' Survival

By Maung Aye
Mray Bon: The recent increase in rice prices in Cyclone Giri affected areas of Mray Bon Township in Arakan State has been threatening cyclone victims' survival, report relief workers.

In Mray Bon Township, the hardest-hit area of Arakan State, the price of rice increased from 12,000 kyat to between 16,000 and 18,000 kyat per 50-kilogram sack within a week of rain starting in the area.

"The price of rice increased within a week because the rice from other parts of Arakan State has not come to the township due to heavy rain. Within a short period, the price of rice increased suddenly to between 16,000 and 18,000 kyat per sack," one source said.

The lower standard rice now costs 16,000 kyat in Mray Bon, while the standard rice price is 18,000 kyat per sack.

"The cyclone survivors were unable to buy rice in the past despite that the price was lower at 12,000 kyat per sack. Now the price is sky-rocketing, so how can people buy rice at such high prices? Many people in the cyclone-affected area are facing difficulty meeting their daily survival right now," he added.

Many cyclone survivors in Mray Bon Township have depended on NGO relief for their daily food since the cyclone struck the Arakan coast in October last year.

A monk who works on a relief team said, "Many NGOs have stopped their relief, particularly food, in the cyclone-affected areas in the last two months. Now the cyclone survivors are struggling with their daily survival on their own after the NGOs stopped aid to them."

Cyclone survivors in the area have been going to sea to catch fish for their food, while others are going to the mountains to cut bamboo and produce wood to sell in the markets.

"It is dry season so people can go everywhere, including the sea or mountains, to look for a way to earn. In the rainy season, the people can not go all those places and they lose the opportunities. So the people will be facing hunger in the rainy season without the NGOs help," the monk said.

Mray Bon Township often faces a short supply of rice, and every year the township has to import rice from other townships in Arakan State.

"The price of rice is likely to increase in the middle of the rainy season in July and August in Mray Bon Township. There are no arrangements for government aid for cyclone survivors, and every survivor will be facing hunger during the coming rainy season," said the relief worker.
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