Thursday, August 6, 2015

Aid efforts fail to meet need

Parts of a damaged railway in Pwintbyu Township on August 5 (Photo – Kyi Naing/EMG)
Flood-affected areas are now facing the aftermath of floods, including food and water shortages and rising commodity prices.
Water is selling for tens of thousands of kyats in Rakhine State’s Mrauk U.
The pipelines that distributed water from Lehse Lake to most Mrauk U homes have been damaged and distribution has been halted.
“We haven’t received any clean water since the day the flooding started. We had to pay about Ks15,000 to fill our [four by six feet] tank,” said Aye Cho from the south ward.
Power has been cut since the town flooded.
The price of a bag of rice has risen from Ks20,000 to around Ks55,000. Petrol more than doubled from Ks1,000 per litre, eggs cost up to Ks250 and instant noodles are priced up to Ks500.
Ten men and six women had died in the township by Tuesday, according to the Free Funeral Service Society.
Outlying villages are in urgent need of food, drinking water and rice seeds.
A group of donors, including Zaw Zaw from Max Myanmar, Aung Ko Win from Kanbawza Bank and some celebrities, visited Mrauk U and donated money and food to the Alotawpyae monastery.
Minbya Township has similar problems.
A Minbu villager said: “We need purified water and rice. The government servants have treated the ponds but we can’t drink them yet. We need to clear up the ponds in order to get pure water. We need to remove the contaminated water and fill them with rainwater.”
Water is currently being transported by boat.
A Chaungto villager said: “No aid group has come to our village to pump out the ponds. We heard that the machines have been brought [to Rakhine State].”
Despite arrivals of humanitarian aid to Minbya, food and water supplies are still low.
Kyauktaw, Mrauk U and Minbya townships suffered the most agricultural damage.
A farmer from Kyauktaw Township said: “All the paddy crops have been destroyed in our fields. We have no money or seeds to grow more. We can’t do anything without aid. We don’t feel like doing anything. We are desperate. The rice that was stored is damaged so there will be ongoing food problems.”
The amount of land recorded as damaged is expected to increase.
The level of the Chindwin River rose 200cm above its danger level in Monywa, Sagaing Region, between July 30 and August 2. Although the water started receding on August 3, embankments broke in villages that are 16km from Monywa town. Thousands of villagers had to relocate and are facing shortages, according to a Nyaungphyupin villager.
Shwe Thway, administrator of Bounmano village, said: “The water is so contaminated that we can’t even feed it to the cows. Around 200 residents are sheltering in the monastery in our village. We have been feeding them with the rice from the monastery.”
The Ayeyawady River’s level has started to drop but residents are still in need.
“Health care is crucial. We need clean water,” said donor Maung Khine.
A woman who lived along the Ayeyawady said her bamboo-matted house, built with the family’s life savings, had been flooded. 
Flooding has receded across Sagaing Region as residents tackle the aftermath. Transport is still cut off in many areas, according to Shwebo, Kanbalu and Kawlin residents.
“The water has receded but we still can’t move home yet. Some of us are living with relatives while others are in schools and community halls. Some have caught flu or scabies. Snake bites are also a danger. Many villages have been cut off during the two weeks of flooding,” said a Yaykyiwa villager, Shwebo Township.
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