Myanmar – Cyclone Nargis Disaster Relief 2008-2010

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Burma (Mayanmar) was hit hard by cyclone Nargis on May 3. It was the worst natural disaster in East Asia since the tsunami of 2004. Cyclone Nargis was a category 3 storm, with winds over 200 kmh, which killed 140,000 people, most of them in the southern Irrawaddy river delta region. This number is officially provided by the tripartite core group ASEAN, Myanmar Government and UN in the first and second periodic review. The majority of people were killed by a tidal surge 12 ft (3.5m) high. Approximately 2,5 million people have been affected by this disaster with many loosing their homes.

Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team, AMURT started its relief activities immediately after the Cyclone Nargis in May 2008. Food and non-food items where distributed to the survivors; Child Friendly Spaces where set up to provide psycho-social support to the children and temporary primary schools where constructed.

During the recovery period AMURT rebuilt durable shelters providing housing to families in 8 villages.  Primary schools were rebuilt from stronger materials, and can now be utilized as cyclone shelters.

AMURT also organized projects specifically focused on women’s welfare. AMURT also implements sustainable development projects to support the communities’ economical development. In Myanmar AMURT has concentrated its post-cyclone Nargis activities and programs in Dedaye Township, Ayeyarwady division.

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Food and Non-food items distribution

AMURT distributed food and non-food items to 6,000 families in 33 villages in Dedaye Township, this programme lasted until December 2008. Each family received food packages containing: rice, beans, salt, molasses and cooking oil. They also received non-food items: candles, body soap, washing soap paste and powder, metal pots and frying pans. From June to October 2008 the packages contained items for one week use. From November to December the packages contained items for one month use. The total cost of the items distributed was 107,000 Euros. The food and non-food items were distributed by a team of 16 volunteers from Yangon, where the local AMURT office is located.

AMURT distributed 383 sacks (1 tone) of UNIMIX blended food for children in 5 villages in villages. The UNIMIX was provided by UNICEF.

Toys distribution: AMURT distributed 4,000 toys around Dedaye Township. The toys were received from SAVE THE CHILDREN.

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Temporary Learning Spaces

AMURT constructed 4 temporary learning spaces, or temporary schools  in 4 villages to replace primary schools destroyed by the cyclone until permanent schools could be constructed. The spaces were constructed using betel nut tree columns, bamboo walling and grass roof. They where intended to last for 6 months, though some were maintained for one year.

Child Friendly Spaces (CFS)

AMURT & AMURTEL built and operated four child friendly spaces in four villages. The CFS provided care to 197 children and employed 13 local teachers and 4 assistants. The purpose of the CFS was to give psycho-social support and protection to children affected by cyclone Nargis. During the first six month at our centres the children received a daily cooked meal to supply their nutrition needs. After six month the children receive a tablet of emergency compact food (BP5) to supplement their diet. The child centres were built on solid timber with metal roofing. They have an attached kitchen and toilets. The CFS were intended to operate until March 2009, after that period they were up graded to Early Childhood Care and Development Centres (ECCDC) operating as regular pre-schools. The centres are still functioning. The ECCDC’s follow the standards of Mo SW. The teachers attend regular training sessions conducted by our coordinators.

Early Childhood Care and Development Centres (ECCDC)

The first four ECCD’s (pre-schools) built by AMURT continuo to operate regularly. The first batch of students graduated in June 2009 and started attending classes at the primary school. In January 2010 four more ECCD’s where constructed and set up. At present AMURT & AMURTEL operates 8 ECCD’s in Dedaye Township with 410 ten children attending the activities.

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Village Reconstruction Program (housing)

From September 2008 until April 2009 AMURT provided housing to families in four villages in South Dedaye Township. 290 new durable shelters were provided. On the right is an example of a one family dwelling.  28 damaged houses were repaired. This program was  extended from the period of April 2009 to September 2009. During the period April 2009 to September 2009, AMURT expanded its housing program to 3 more villages in Dedaye Township. 222 new housing units were provided in two villages,  In March 2010 more 127 houses were constructed.  increasing to 639. the total number of houses provided in the South of Dedaye Township.

All the houses provided by AMURT have the same construction standard. The housing unites are made of a heavy timber frame based on concrete footing, bamboo walling and grass roof. They are designed to resist strong winds.AMURT employed 75 local carpenters in this program.

Apart from the houses, AMURT constructed 1,5 Km of access roads in the villages, and three bridges.

Baby Delivery financial Support Program

AMURTEL paid for the baby delivery expenditures to 61 women. Pregnant and breast feeding women also received dietary supplements, underwear and baby kits. A local staff organized and conducted the women programs.

Women Livelihood Program

AMURTEL provided training for 13 women in tailoring; sewing machines were donated to the participants of the training. Women also received training in shampoo making and financial management. AMURTEL gave cash grant to 120 women to start small business, each woman received 100,000 Kyats (~100USD).

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Permanent Primary School Construction (cyclone shelter)

AMURT built 6 primary schools and one post primary schools from April to July 2009. The schools are constructed in reinforced concrete and are 6 fit high above the ground level to serve as cyclone shelter. The design includes large child friendly classrooms with plenty of natural light, teacher’s room and library. The schools are fully equipped with furniture: desks, benches, tables, shelves and cabinets. They are also equipped with water tanks, pumps and electric generators. The total cost of the project was 500,000 Euros. This project benefits 691 students.

Future Activities

Child Centres:  AMURT & AMURTEL will continue operating the 8 Early Childhood Care and Development Centers which provide free pre-school education to over 400 children and which employ 36 local teachers and staff.

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