IRC comes to aid of Myanmar cyclone victims
After Cyclone Giri
Cyclone Giri contaminated water supplies and destroyed water systems like the one in this village in Rakhine State. IRC water and sanitation specialists are setting up emergency water treatment and distribution units.
(Photo: The IRC)
Cyclone Giri, which struck the northwestern coast of Myanmar last week, has devastated large areas of Rakhine State according to a team of relief workers from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) which is working in the disaster area.
“Houses, schools and health centers have been destroyed and an estimated 250,000 people are in need of urgent assistance,” said Cate Breen, the IRC’s country director in Myanmar. “Communities need safe water, healthcare, food and shelter. Our staff is ready to deliver assistance to the people but the overall aid effort is being hampered by a lack of international funding.”
This week, the IRC started distributing food and emergency supplies, including rice, oil, water purification tablets, water containers and blankets. Meanwhile, IRC water and sanitation specialists are setting up emergency water treatment and distribution units, and erecting large tanks capable of distributing thousands of liters of clean drinking water.
After the immediate emergency, the IRC plans to clean and rehabilitate ponds and reservoirs that have been contaminated by salt water and debris and provide people with household water storage containers capable of storing up to 2,000 liters, Breen said.
Malaria is endemic in the affected area and the IRC is planning to distribute mosquito nets and launch a malaria-prevention and health education campaign. “Our teams are also looking to support potentially lifesaving vaccination campaigns which have been severely affected by a lack of boats and other equipment needed to reach far flung villages,” Breen said.
An estimated 40,000 people will benefit from the overall IRC aid effort.
Meanwhile, there is an urgent need to rebuild housing and replace lost jobs and livelihoods. Over 17,500 acres of rice paddy fields were destroyed by the storm as were at least 31,000 acres of prawn and aquaculture ponds. Some 600 fishermen lost their boats and another 900 lost their fishing nets.
“As the aid effort increases we hope to be able to rebuild roads, bridges and jetties,” Breen said. “We will also be providing cash and agricultural and water supplies so that stricken communities can restart their businesses.”