ERD Helps after Cyclone Komen

Adapted from Episcopal Relief & Development

Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting the relief efforts of the Church of the Province of Myanmar (CPM) in response to widespread flooding caused by heavy monsoons and Cyclone Komen, which swept through the region on July 30. The rains that began on July 16 caused landslides in hilly areas and floods throughout much of the country, which worsened as water flowed out of the mountains and reservoirs were opened to prevent dams from breaking.

According to UN OCHA [PDF], as of Aug. 11 more than 1 million people have been affected and more than 240,000 households are displaced. Approximately 687,000 acres (1,100 square miles) of farmland have been damaged, and special equipment is needed to remove water, mud, and sand from fields so they can be replanted in order to prevent food shortages.

On Aug. 1, CPM organized a Provincial Relief Committee to coordinate an immediate response in the severely affected areas of the dioceses of Hpaan, Sittwe, Toungoo, Mandalay, Myitkyina, and Yangon, providing drinking water, water purification tablets, one month’s basic food supplies, and medicine for 10,000 people staying in shelters or in the upper levels of their homes.

“The flooding in Myanmar at present is spreading speedily and it is difficult for the Provincial staff to travel to all the affected areas. Therefore, we encourage the dioceses to form their local relief team for the implementation of the relief work,” said CPM’s emergency appeal. “According to our information, there are many teams supporting the flood victims. CPM has planned to support the victims not only the emergency relief but also for the recovery and rehabilitation support after the emergency work.”

CPM reports that all six dioceses involved in the relief efforts are gathering information on affected communities using the assessment form from the Pastors and Disasters toolkit, published by Episcopal Relief & Development and a group of international partners in late 2014. Based on these findings, CPM will determine how to continue with the recovery phase of its response, which includes rehabilitating homes, replanting crops and repairing or improving local water and sanitation systems.

“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’s 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.”

CPM has been organizing and promoting development work in six dioceses for the past ten years, in partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development and others. Episcopal Relief & Development provides support and technical assistance for programs that alleviate hunger through climate-smart agriculture and create economic opportunities through micro-finance and vocational training.

Please continue to pray for those coping with the worsening floods in Burma-Myanmar. To support Episcopal Relief & Development’s response after emergencies like Cyclone Komen, please donate to the Disaster Response Fund.

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