Myanmar floods, six months on

Rural communities are back to work cultivating their fields after replanting (Photo: Myanmar Red Cross Society).

Six months on from the devastating floods that struck Myanmar, around 400,000 people have received emergency assistance and support in their recovery from the Myanmar Red Cross Society and its partners in the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

At their peak the floods affected over 9 million people across 12 of Myanmar’s 14 states and regions. The floods temporarily displaced over 1.7 million people and destroyed 15,000 homes as well as more than 840,000 acres of agricultural crops.

Bridge in Kalay damaged by flood water and rising river (Photo: IFRC)

Between July 2015 and January 2016, over 1,400 Red Cross volunteers and staff from the Myanmar Red Cross Society and Red Cross partners assisted flood affected people across the country. The first phase included evacuations, providing emergency relief such as purified water, food, household items, and shelter materials.

Red Cross emergency teams evacuating families and providing relief and medical assistance to communities affected by floods (Photo: Myanmar Red Cross Society)

Since then, efforts have been focused on supporting the longer term recovery of flood affected communities across the five worst hit regions of Chin, Rakhine, Sagaing, Magway and Ayerwady with livelihood activities, cleaning of contaminated ponds and wells and infrastructure rehabilitation.

Myanmar Red Cross local volunteers distributing hygien kits and shelter kits to flood affected people in Aye Thar Yar village (Photo: Emil Elotie / Finnish Red Cross)

Cash assistance has been one of the main pillars in the Red Cross operation. 60,000 people have received cash grants from the Red Cross. Myanmar Red Cross and International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) focused their help in Sagaing, Magway, Ayerwady, Chin while Myanmar Red Cross, in close collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), distributed cash grants in Rakhine.

Cash distributions in Kalay, Sagaing (Photo: Myanmar Red Cross)

The floods had long term health impacts. 285 health structures were damaged and water sources were contaminated, increasing the threat of water-borne and vector borne diseases such as dengue and malaria. Both are endemic in Myanmar and contribute to the high mortality rates of children in rural areas of the country. The Red Cross is committed to strengthening community and village health structures and systems, including training volunteers in First Aid and providing health education to ensure that communities are better prepared for accidents and potential health threats.

Rural communities are back to work cultivating their fields after replanting (Photo: Myanmar Red Cross Society).

The Red Cross operation is scheduled to continue until August 2016, targeting affected communities with livelihoods support, shelter assistance, improved access to clean water and sanitation and health education. The operation is supported by the IFRC, the ICRC and sister Red Cross and Red Crescent national societies.