Church in Myanmar provides relief for communities affected by flooding and plans recovery response, update

17 August 2015

Farmers and those dependent on other rural-based livelihoods in particular have been affected. More than 773,000 acres of farmland have been damaged, according to the Ministry of Agriculture; Rakhine State has been hit the hardest. Special equipment is needed to remove water, mud and sand from fields so they can be replanted in order to prevent food shortages, and rural communities are expected to need significant support to rebuild.

Clean-up of wells and water sources is underway in areas where water has receded, as well as repair of roads and bridges, though access remains difficult to some of the worst-affected areas.

According to Episcopal Relief & Development on 13 August, the Church of the Province of Myanmar reports that all six dioceses involved in the relief efforts are gathering information on impacted communities using the assessment form from the Pastors and Disasters toolkit. Based on these findings, CPM will determine how to continue with the recovery phase of its response.

“Our partners in Myanmar are relying on local resources and expertise to the greatest extent possible, for example in purchasing rice for the relief distributions, not only because transportation is difficult now but also to support the local economy,” said Nagulan Nesiah, ERD Senior Program Officer for Disaster Response and Risk Reduction. 

“Later, when it becomes possible to begin rebuilding homes, they will work with a local engineer to design structures that will be more storm resistant in the future.  This asset-based approach is integral to building community resilience, and is a key feature of the Pastors and Disasters toolkit.”

Original story (7 August 2015) with details of response and appeals below:

The Church of the Province of Myanmar (CPM) report that the areas affected by flooding in Myanmar are increasing rapidly and it is difficult for the Provincial staff to travel to all the affected areas. Therefore, they are encouraging the dioceses to form their own local relief teams for the implementation of the relief work.

So far, CPM has provided immediate support with drinking water supplies, water purification sachets, staple food and medicine for more than 10,000 people who are staying in shelters and the upper-storey of their houses.  At the moment, some places are still in an emergency situation without any support from outside.

CPM has planned to support the victims not only with emergency relief but also with the recovery and rehabilitation support after the emergency work.

For the first phase:

  •          Access to drinking water because access points were contaminated.
  •          Staple food (rice, oil, salt), because food stocks and livelihoods have been damaged, at least a       month’s one-time distribution will be provided and
  •          Medicines for emergency relief and in recovery stage.

 For the second phase:

  •          Rehabilitation of houses
  •          Seeds or plants for replantation of crops
  •          School materials for school children
  •          Helping schools for renovation.
  •          Water, sanitation and hygiene programme

 A relief team from CPM has already been mobilized for the first phase and will continue the second phase when the water recedes. The assessment form from the Anglican Pastors and Disasters Toolkit was provided to three dioceses which were affected. These forms were used to report assessment data. Based on these data and as well as from the secondary data, the Relief Committee will decide how to implement the second phase.

The full details of the plans of the Church of the Province of Myanmar can be found in the proposal here, and here is the budget. Peter San Lin, provincial development department head, says “This proposal incorporates a number of small scale relief initiatives, focused on areas where CPM has been working, either directly through the dioceses, parishes or with partners. Proposed activities are short term interventions that will contribute to the ongoing development process in these communities.”

Anglican agencies are supporting the Church of the Province in Myanmar, including:

Episcopal Relief & Development

The Mothers’ Union

Anglican Board of Mission

Us (formerly USPG). 

Please continue to pray for the people of Mayanmar, maybe using these prayer points from the Mothers’ Union, and support the agencies sending support to the Church in Myanmar

Report 7/8/15:

In discussion with the provincial relief team, the Anglican Alliance has learnt that the Church of the Province of Myanmar (Burma) is now gearing up for a second phase of assistance to communities engulfed by flood water following torrential rains last week.

More than 250,000 people have been affected and 69 have died, said Myanmar’s Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement.

According to UN OCHA, massive floods and high winds have affected people across 12 states and regions in Myanmar, with continued rain and flood waters moving southward putting additional areas at risk of inundation.

Cyclone Komen struck Myanmar and other countries from 30 July. This storm combined with heavy monsoon rains during July, resulting in flooding and landslides. There are also concerns that the flooding may increase as water washes down from mountainous parts of the country. Water has also been released from the country’s dams to relieve pressure on their structures.

The newspaper Myanma Ahlin reported that water had risen above spillways at 40 dams across the country. The United Nations has raised concerns about food security after the government issued a flood warning for the Ayeyarwady delta, Myanmar’s major rice-producing area.

The Most Rev. Stephen Than Myint Oo, Primate of the Church of the Province of Myanmar, has stressed the severity of the floods.

“My dear brothers and sisters from the Anglican Communion,” the Archbishop said , “please pray for Myanmar and the Province of Myanmar which is badly affected by the heavy flood.”

“Within two weeks the flood will cover almost all states and divisions in Myanmar. This flood reminds me of the catastrophe effected by Cyclone Nargis in 2008. We need your prayers and support,” he added.

Provincial Development Department head Peter San Lin reported in a call with the Anglican Alliance yesterday that diocesan teams had already reached out to over 10,000 people in three areas.

Given that there were now enough agencies on the ground providing relief assistance, the Church was shifting its focus to recovery and rehabilitation, Peter reported.

In the long term there are concerns about food security. According to UN OCHA, 1 million acres of farmland have been affected by the floods.

“The Provincial Relief Committee are preparing a proposal that they will circulate soon,” Peter said.

The Anglican Alliance will put this proposal on its website to enable others around the Communion to pray for and support the relief and rehabilitation work by the Church in Myanmar.

In the immediate response, within days the Church had mobilized its relief committees and procured relief in the form of food and water to distribute in remote areas where the Church has had a historic presence, said Nagulan Nesiah of Episcopal Relief & Development.

“The Church of Myanmar was very involved in the creation and testing of the ‘Pastors and Disasters’ toolkit for disaster management, and they are utilizing those materials in the development of their response to Cyclone Komen,” Nagulan added. 

The Anglican Alliance encourages people throughout the Anglican Communion to join the Church in Myanmar in prayer as they gather at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Yangon this coming Sunday (9 August) at 2pm local time for a special service to pray for the flood victims and relief efforts.

Support the people of Myanmar through Anglican agency appeals, including:

Photo credit: Anglican Board of Mission. Flooded areas in Myanmar