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Myanmar: Clash between rebel groups in Myanmar’s shan state forces villagers from homes

10 February 2016 - 9:48pm
Source: Radio Free Asia Country: Myanmar

Fighting that erupted between two rival armed ethnic groups in a village in Myanmar’s restive Shan state three days ago has injured one resident and forced nearly all of the 1,500 others to flee their homes, a village administrative official said Wednesday.

Shelling between soldiers of the Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army-South (RCSS/SSA-S) and Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) injured the leg of one resident of Lotnaw village, Namhkam township, in northern Shan State, Eik Yai, chief administrator of the village, told RFA’s Myanmar Service. 

The wounded villager is being treated at the township hospital, he said.

“At about 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 7, about 300 troops from the rival RCSS/SSA-South came into the village where about 100 TNLA troops were based,” he said. “Then a big battle began, and the villagers fled amid heavy shelling.” 

TNLA troops have been fighting with RCSS/SSA-South soldiers in Namhkam township since last November, but their clashes have intensified during the past few days in the area around Lotnaw village, residents said. 

Village school shut

About 900 RCSS/SSA-S troops remain in Lotnaw, forcing residents of the four communities that comprise the village to seek shelter about 20 miles (32 kilometers) away in the village of Mong Wee, Eik Yai said. 

The fighting has also forced the village school to shut down temporarily, he said.

The clash has forced about 550 Lotnaw residents to seek shelter inside the Ta’ang literature and culture office in Mong Wee village, where they do not have enough blankets and must sleep on a concrete floor, while others have headed into the jungle, he said. 

Most of the refugees are in their 50s and 60s, but their numbers also include roughly 200 children, he said, adding that more residents fleeing the fighting in Lotnaw are expected to arrive in Mong Wee.

About 300 refugees from Lotnaw have been living in nearby Mong Wee village since November, residents said.

Second township hit

Meanwhile, fighting between the two armed groups in Kyaukme township during the past days has reportedly injured several civilians and destroyed a home, forcing 300 villagers from the area to seek shelter in nearby Pan Hsan village, sources said.

The TNLA has been battling the RCSS, the political organization that oversees the SSA-S, near Mong Wee village in Namhkam township since Nov. 27, when the SSA-S crossed into front-line territory and opened fire, the online journal _Irrawaddy _reported.

During that time, Myanmar army forces had teamed up with the RCSS after the group signed a “nationwide cease-fire agreement” with the government and launched an offensive against the holdout rebel TNLA army in Shan state.

The 6,000-strong SSA-S was one of eight armed ethnic groups that signed the cease-fire pact with the government on Oct. 15. 

The TNLA, along with two other armed ethnic groups, was not invited to sign the agreement because of ongoing hostilities with the Myanmar army, however.

Reported by Thiri Min Zin and Kan Tar for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Kyaw Min Htun. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

World: Alliance2015 Project Countries with expected El-Nino impacts 2015/2016: Countries in the World with current projects of Alliance2015 Partner Organisations in which El-Nino impacts are likely

10 February 2016 - 5:38am
Source: Concern Worldwide, CESVI - Cooperazione e Sviluppo Onlus, Deutsche Welthungerhilfe e. V., Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development, People in Need, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation Country: Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, World, Zimbabwe

World: The Aid Security Monthly News Brief January 2016

10 February 2016 - 3:35am
Source: Insecurity Insight Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Burundi, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, France, Greece, Iraq, Kenya, Mali, Myanmar, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, World, Yemen

This monthly digest documents threats and incidents of violence affecting the delivery of humanitarian assistance. It is prepared by Insecurity Insight from information available in open sources. It complements resources that already exist, such as the Aid Worker Security Database, which provides statistics and analysis about attacks against aid workers.

Myanmar: Jimmy Carter Congratulates Myanmar on Sitting of New Legislatures; Carter Center Continues its Post-Election Observation

9 February 2016 - 11:30pm
Source: Carter Center Country: Myanmar

Contact: In Atlanta, Soyia Ellison, soyia.ellison@cartercenter.org
In Yangon, Frederick Rawski, Frederick.rawski@mail.cceom.org

ATLANTA — The Carter Center congratulates the people of Myanmar on the sitting of the newly elected union and state/regional legislative assemblies. The results of the historic elections on Nov. 8, 2015, delivered a strong mandate to incoming representatives to press forward with Myanmar's ongoing transition from authoritarian rule to democracy.

"With the sitting of the new assemblies, Myanmar is experiencing another historic moment in its democratic transition," former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said. "Many challenges lie ahead. The peace process is incomplete; ethnic and religious divisions persist; and restrictions on freedom of speech and assembly remain. I encourage the incoming legislators to use this opportunity to advance reforms and fully commit the government to democratic principles and human rights."

President Carter visited Myanmar in April and September of 2013. The Carter Center has been observing the political and electoral environment in Myanmar since 2014 and deployed a delegation of more than 60 observers during the November 2015 general elections. In its preliminary statement, Carter Center observers assessed the conduct of voting and counting as positive in 95 percent of the polling stations visited on election day and acknowledged the important efforts of the Union Election Commission to make the electoral process more transparent. It noted, however, that aspects of the electoral and constitutional framework are inconsistent with recognized international standards for democratic elections.

The Carter Center continues to deploy observers to assess the post-election environment and monitor the complaints tribunal process being conducted by the Union Election Commission. Later this year, the Center will release its final report on the observation of the 2015 elections, which will include detailed recommendations for the new government and legislators to consider while pursuing further reform of the electoral framework.

"Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope." A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in over 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.

World: Polio this week as of 3 February 2016

9 February 2016 - 3:01pm
Source: Global Polio Eradication Initiative Country: Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Iraq, Kenya, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, Ukraine, World, Yemen
  • There are ten weeks to go until the globally synchronized switch from the trivalent to bivalent oral polio vaccine, an important milestone in achieving a polio-free world. Read more here.

  • The WHO Executive Board met last week, recognising progress made in 2015 and renewing their commitment to polio eradication. Read more here.

  • For the first time in history, Africa has had 4-months without any wild or circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus cases, nor any environmental positive sample.

Myanmar: WHO, UNAIDS conduct review of HIV, TB collaborative activities in Myanmar with Ministry of Health

9 February 2016 - 12:55pm
Source: Government of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

In January 2016, the World Health OrganiSation (WHO) and UNAIDS carried out an in-depth review of the current status of Tuberculosis and HIV in Myanmar and of the collaborative activities implemented to address these diseases.

The review was conducted in close collaboration with the National Tuberculosis and AIDS Programmes of the Ministry of Health and with financial support from USAID and the Global Fund against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Myanmar has made impressive progress in the fight against HIV and TB, successfully halting and reversing the spread of the diseases in line with the 2015 Millennium Development Goals.

However, despite these progresses, tuberculosis and HIV remain two major public health threats, condemning many to premature death, unnecessary suffering and economic losses. If these two diseases infect patients at the same time, the physical and economic burden can become unsustainable – and mortality rates will increase dramatically.

Co-infection of TB and HIV was responsible for around 4,100 deaths in Myanmar in 2014 out of the estimated 32,000 deaths for all TB forms; the country ranks as ‘high-burden’ for both TB and HIV incidence and has a high rate of HIV-TB co‐infections.

To address this, the World Health Organisation and UNAIDS recommend:

1) a strong collaboration between the National TB and AIDS Programmes, aimed at strengthening the mechanisms for delivering integrated TB and HIV services;

2) measures to reduce the burden of TB in HIV-infected individuals, and

3) measures to reduce the HIV burden among TB patients. In light of these policy requirements, the Ministry of Health is stepping up efforts to tackle the combined epidemic of HIV and tuberculosis in Myanmar. WHO and UNAIDS support the call for improved coordination between all partners involved in the national TB and HIV response. In particular, all doctors – public and private – should strive to link TB and HIV patients to the free diagnosis and treatment services made available by the Government of Myanmar and its implementing partners.

The key recommendations of the review shared with the Ministry of Health focused on the importance of strengthening collaboration between HIV and TB National Programmes through improved information sharing, joint procurement and adequate deployment of human resources.

Furthermore, increasing and decentralising the number of health facilities that provide joint screenings and treatment of patients for HIV and TB at all levels of the health system (through scaling up of services and employing mobile teams, particularly in high burden areas) would be central to ensure that these diseases are detected on time, properly treated and further reduced.

Lastly, engagement with all partners – including the private sector – would boost the effectiveness of health policies by devising and implementing innovative service delivery strategies.

For more information, please contact:

Federica Maurizio
f.maurizio.mmr@gmail.com
WHO Communications Consultant
Ms Krittayawan Tina Boonto
UNAIDS Officer In Charge
boontok@unaids.org

Myanmar: Protecting water supplies during floods: a BRACED case study from Myanmar

9 February 2016 - 10:38am
Source: International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent Societies Country: Myanmar

09/02/2016 - by Bhushan Shrestha, Myo Set Nyein Chan and Aung Nyein Lin, BRACED Myanmar

(This story, slightly edited here for length, appeared first on the BRACED website. In its own operation for last year’s floods, the Myanmar Red Cross, assisted by the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, has now helped more than 400,000 people with both relief and recovery.)

Daw Mi Naw, a mother of five children from Zeyar Thiri village in Mawlamyine  township, in south-east Myanmar, is happy to have access to clean drinking water even in flood periods, thanks to a newly renovated, flood-proof water pond at the centre of her ward.

About 300 households now have enough clean water for drinking and household use throughout the year after World Vision, through the BRACED programme, supported the work.

Zeyar Thiri village is located at the bank of the Ataran River, which is highly vulnerable to summer floods when the river overflows. 

Villagers used to face severe shortages of water for drinking and household use during  floods, when crucial water sources were contaminated.

Over the past year since the pond was renovated, Naw and other village women said significantly fewer children in the village have suffered diarrhoea and other water-borne illnesses.

Shocks and stresses

Households in the village used to spend up to 9,000 Burmese _kyats_ per month (around US$ 7) for drinking water during the six-month monsoon season each year; the pond improvements are expected to significantly reduce those costs.

Improvements to the footpath around the pond and the widening of its sides also has improved safety for children, elderly people and those living with disabilities, who can now more safely fetch water when other household members are busy.

Villagers acknowledge that these achievements have been made through the collective efforts of the people themselves, local government institutions, and the BRACED project, working in partnership to improve resilience to climate shocks and stresses.

World Vision helped community members and local government use the step-by-step guidance in the Myanmar Alliance Community Resilience Assessment and Action Handbook, developed by the BRACED Alliance Coordination Unit.

The community’s prioritization of activities identified the renovation of the water pond as a key resilience solution.

Excavator

The information supplied by Zeyar Thiri villagers and a community-based partner organization showed that the BRACED work ensured access to clean water for 300  households year-round, even during severe flooding, for a cost per household of around US$ 7.

In addition to renovation, the community identified further resilience-strengthening solutions. 

BRACED has supported the villagers to improve their knowledge and skills, helped them build a community flood-drainage system and footpaths, and provided boats to help them cope during floods. 

The project has additionally coordinated with local government to provide an excavator to complete major earthworks for the drainage system and footpaths, with community members contributing voluntary labour and BRACED providing technical advice and construction materials.

U Thaung Shwe, director of the Relief and Resettlement Department of the Mon state  government, said he acknowledges the impact of BRACED assistances at Zeyar Thiri, and reiterated his commitment to extend the partnership with BRACED.

A view of the new water pond at Zeyar Thiri village after the upgrading work. (Photo: Jeremy Stone/BRACED Myanmar Alliance Coordinator)

World: Global Emergency Overview Snapshot: 3 – 9 February 2016

9 February 2016 - 8:54am
Source: Assessment Capacities Project Country: Afghanistan, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guatemala, Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, World, Yemen, Zimbabwe

Syria: The military offensive in Aleppo governorate has displaced more than 40,000 people since late January, and the number of displaced is reported to be increasing. There is concern that a siege of opposition-held areas of Aleppo city is imminent. An estimated 20,000 newly displaced Syrians are stuck at the Bab al Salam crossing along the Syria–Turkey border, as Turkey has denied them entry into Turkish territory.

Iraq: Conflict in Anbar province continues to drive severe humanitarian needs. As government and Popular Mobilisation Forces strengthen their positions around Falluja, besieged citizens face worsening shortages of food, fuel and medicines. Basic food prices have soared over 500% since December.

Ukraine: Conflict is escalating again, mostly around Donetsk, Gorlovka, Azov and Mariupol. As a result of fighting and restricted access, 290,000 people are severely food insecure. In addition, more than 3.2 million cases of swine flu have been reported since the end of September: epidemic thresholds have been exceeded in 19 of 27 regions. Medical shortages are being reported, and over 120 people have died because they did not receive timely medical assistance.

Zimbabwe: A typhoid outbreak has been reported in the capital Harare, with over 800 suspected and confirmed cases recorded as of 7 February. The outbreak is likely related to the water shortage in many reservoirs, caused by the ongoing drought, which is forcing people to use water from unsafe sources. Many areas in eastern Zimbabwe have been experiencing less than a quarter of normal rainfall, since the beginning of January.

Global Emergency Overview Web Interface

Myanmar: Myanmar presidential vote to start on March 17 as transition talks drag on

8 February 2016 - 9:06pm
Source: Reuters - AlertNet Country: Myanmar

Source: Reuters - Mon, 8 Feb 2016 07:22 GMT

By Hnin Yadana Zaw and Aung Hla Tun

NAYPYITAW/YANGON, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Myanmar's parliament will begin its election of the new president on March 17, cutting very close to an April 1 deadline, suggesting talks between Aung San Suu Kyi's victorious party and the military are likely to take longer than planned.

Read the full article on Reuters - AlertNet.

Myanmar: Nargis memory spurs resilience training

8 February 2016 - 11:01am
Source: UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Country: Myanmar

By Andy McElroy

SIEM REAP, Cambodia, 8 February 2016 – A new training centre located close to the scene of one of the worst disasters of recent decades is championing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction’s call to engage all sectors and levels of society for effective risk management.

The Myanmar Disaster Management Training Centre is using the Sendai Framework – a 15-year global agreement that aims to curb deaths and economic losses from natural and man-made hazards – to guide its curriculum development as it seeks to strengthen disaster risk management capacity across the hazard-prone country.

The centre, which opened two months ago, is located in Hinthada, Ayeyarwady Division, just north of the area which experienced the worst devastation during the catastrophic Cyclone Nargis. Official figures record that 84,500 people were killed and 53,800 listed as missing as a result of the cyclone and consequent storm surge in May 2008.

The Deputy Director of the Ministry of Social Welfare’s Relief and Resettlement Department, Dr. Min Thein, is part of the training centre team. He said that the experience of Nargis is a sharp reminder of the challenge in hand to protect the country’s population of 54 million, many of whom are exposed and vulnerable to floods, landslides, storms and earthquakes among other hazards.

“According to available studies, five years after Cyclone Nargis, only 25 percent of the agricultural land that was affected had fully recovered. With such a finding one can only imagine the challenge we have to build disaster resilience in our country that still relies so much on agriculture for livelihoods,” Dr. Thein said during a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Cambodia.

“But we are proud of our achievements so far. We are the first and only centre in Myanmar with a specific focus on strengthening capacity in disaster risk management and already we have a very fruitful and complete introduction on the subject.”

The centre offers two-week courses for 60 participants. Thirty are drawn from the Ministry of Social Welfare’s Relief and Resettlement Department, 15 from other government ministries and 15 from various community organizations. Dr. Thein explains the reason for such a mixed composition: “We do this because we know that building disaster resilience is a team effort. The great strength of our country is its partnerships at the community level. We are trying to strengthen these.”

Dr. Thein has ambitions that the centre will evolve into an institution that offers courses which are regionally recognized and accredited up to diploma level and even beyond: “As we do so, the Sendai Framework will help us to adjust our focus and revise plans and requirements at the community level so that disaster resilience is strengthened.”

While much has been achieved, Dr. Thein points to significant challenges: “In particular, we have not had sufficient human resources for training. In addition, we have gaps in our technical capacity but we are working to improve and expand.”

He cites fellow ASEAN country the Philippines as a good example for what it has achieved in terms of disaster risk management education. While the Myanmar disaster management training centre receives a budget allocation from central government to run its courses, it is looking to expand its partnerships to reach out further.

The opening of the training center builds on previous efforts of the Relief and Resettlement Department which trained 4,800 youth volunteers nationally to support efforts to build local resilience in terms of disaster management and social protection.

Dr. Thein and his Director at the Ministry of Social Welfare’s Relief and Resettlement Department, Mr. Nay Win, shared Myanmar’s efforts to strengthen disaster risk management education capacity with National Disaster Management Office representatives from South-East Asia. They were speaking at the ASEAN-China Seminar on Disaster Management and Emergency Response, hosted by the Government of Cambodia and organized with the support of the Government of China and the ASEAN Secretariat.

World: Aid Security Monthly Incident Statistics (January to December 2015)

8 February 2016 - 9:40am
Source: Insecurity Insight Country: Burundi, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Myanmar, Pakistan, Russian Federation, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, Ukraine, World, Yemen

Between January and December 2015, open sources reported 29 times on administrative decisions by states (26) or non-state actors (3) that affected aid agencies’ abilities to deliver aid. Seven reports referred to newly introduced bills, laws or regulations and 22 described specific measures using existing laws or regulations that affected the work of humanitarian organisations or their local partners.

New laws, bills or administrative regulations, which observers fear may be used to obstruct the work of INGO’s or their partner agencies, were introduced or passed into the legislative process by state bodies in Pakistan (4), Kazakhstan, South Sudan and Uganda (1 each) during 2015.

In three cases, rebel officials from Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic took administrative decisions refusing the accreditation of NGOs.

Malaysia: Reaching the Unreached: An Assessment of the Alternative Education Programme for Refugee and Undocumented Children in Kampung Numbak, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

8 February 2016 - 1:33am
Source: UN Children's Fund Country: Malaysia, Myanmar

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Background

Impelled by the goals of Education for ALL (EFA) to provide, expand and improve comprehensive education for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children, Alternative Education Programmes (AEP) have increasingly been envisioned as a key strategy “to fill the gap” for marginalized children who are not enrolled in the formal education system due to “age, gender, ethnicity or geographical location” (IIEP, 2009:2). This report represents an assessment of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Malaysia initiative entitled “Reaching the Unreached: An Alternative Education Programme (AEP) for Refugee, Undocumented and Stateless Children in Kampung Numbak, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah”, which ran from 2011 to 2013. UNICEF Malaysia provided RM 422,715.16 for the viable alternative education project in partnership with the Ministry of Education (MoE), Malaysia, Federal Special Task Force (FSTF), Malaysian Teacher’s Foundation (MTF), and the local community with a focus on sustainable alternative education policy development in Malaysia and partnerships to scale up successful interventions for the long-standing issue of marginalized immigrants in Sabah in particular, and Malaysia in general. In October 2012, UNICEF Malaysia contracted Universiti Malaysia Sabah to conduct the assessment.

Scope and Methods

The focal point of the study was the Numbak Education Centre (NEC) project, with the assessment period being from the project’s inception in January 2011 until March 2013. A number of key parameters were established: (1) Relevance (Why was the project needed?); (2) Effectiveness (What were the results of the project?); (3) Efficiency (How well was the project administered?); (4) Outcome (What are the positive and negative consequences arising from the project’s activities?); and (5) Sustainability (Does the project have a future?). The assessment took the form of a theory-based assessment of the antecedents, processes and results of AEP strategies and activities; it employed a participatory approach drawing on a mixture of information sources – quantitative and qualitative, primary and secondary. The assessment relied on data from four sources: (1) a review of existing policy and programme documents (to understand the policy environment governing education for refugee and undocumented children); (2) a review of Kampung Numbak project documents; (3) a review of the Education Centre’s records on (a) school environment; (b) school achievement of learners, and (c) budget and expenditure; (4) primary data collection from stakeholders (MoE, MTF, and FSTF officers, parents, teachers, children) designed to facilitate an in-depth understanding of the provision and results of education from the perspective of different stakeholders through (a) focus group discussions with parents, villagers, and children; (b) interviews with Government officials, community leaders, and NGO representatives; (c) case studies of selected children’s life success stories; (d) product analysis of objects created by the children; and (e) roundtable discussion with existing stakeholders, non-governmental organisations and potential future stakeholders.

Conclusions

The conclusions presented here are based on the findings detailed in the body of the report. They are based on the five parameters used in the assessment: (1) Relevance), (2) Effectiveness), (3)
Efficiency), (4) Outcomes, and (5) Sustainability.

Myanmar: Myanmar: 2015 Floods & Landslide IOM Response Situation Report

5 February 2016 - 9:45am
Source: International Organization for Migration Country: Myanmar

Overview

  • IOM distributed 10,825 shelter kits, 11,300 mosquito nets, 2,000 tarpaulins, 500 family kits, 200 dignity kits and 11,400 blankets to the floods and landslides affected communities.

  • IOM worked with 9 partners to provide emergency assistance to affected communities in 7 States and Regions. Over 115,000 beneficiaries were supported during the flood response.

  • In response to recent floods and landslides, IOM provided support in CCCM, shelter, NFIs, food, protection, WASH and early recovery assistance.

Myanmar was highly affected by the flooding, flash floods and landslides in several parts of the country after the heavy monsoon rains following Cyclone Komen in late July 2015. On 31 July, ‘natural disaster zones’ were declared in Chin and Rakhine States and in the Sagaing and Magway Regions. Transportation, electricity and communication were disrupted across the affected areas. On 3 August 2015, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement (MSWRR) officially requested support and provision of humanitarian items such as food, non-food items (NFIs) and shelter equipment from agencies for the flood response.

IOM responded by mobilizing 150 staff across Myanmar and focused on providing support to the affected communities in the areas of shelter and NFI, Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM), food, protection, and WASH in seven of the most affected States and Regions. As the emergency response phase has concluded, IOM is now focusing efforts on reconstruction of damaged infrastructure including schools, assisting displaced communities build back better, and improved management of the camps housing displaced communities.

Myanmar: Myanmar floods six months on: agricultural livelihoods still buried in the mud

5 February 2016 - 7:07am
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization Country: Myanmar

During the winter months, the farmland around Pauk Khoan village is normally full of brightly coloured vegetable crops – sunflower, peanut, red bean, mustard broadleaf and maize. But this year is different. Thick, wet mud still covers most of the land, nearly six months after floodwaters swept through the area. Farmers have watched in dismay as their winter crops struggled to grow, turned yellow and wilted in the mud.

It’s yet another blow for the 150 families in the village, who were counting on the winter harvest for much-needed food and income. It shows that while the initial flooding disaster was almost half a year ago, it triggered a series of devastating consequences which continue to undermine agricultural livelihoods and food security today.

Pauk Khoan is a village in Sagaing region in central Myanmar, more than 600km north of Yangon. It was the worst affected of the six states and regions that bore the brunt of the floods between July and October last year. Most farmers lost their entire staple crop of monsoon paddy rice, which was growing when the floods swept through. Daily labour – a traditional source of extra income – is no longer available. Families have resorted to selling livestock to buy food or pay for medical treatment.

Despite all the hardship, the worst may still be ahead. The floods also buried the village’s irrigation canals and feeder rivers under mud. Without irrigation, the village could miss out on a second consecutive paddy rice crop.

Mya Kyi, 52, lives with her three sisters, her brother and sister-in-law. She has still not been able to pay the more than 25 villagers who worked as daily labourers on her two hectares of monsoon paddy rice last year. Now she fears there will be no paddy crop this year, either. “There is no water for any paddy land now, so even if there is rain, it won’t be enough for the monsoon crop,” she said. “Our winter vegetable crop is not looking good and I have no idea how we will survive the next monsoon season.”

In another major obstacle, much of the village’s total 91 hectares of paddy land was left littered with heavy logs and branches after the floods. The Government sent machinery to help clear some of the debris and villagers have been chopping the rest up by hand. Months later, they’re still not finished. Community leader Kyi Baw — worried about his own wife, five children and newly born grandchild — said people will have to sell more livestock and other assets or try to borrow food, when the donated rice runs out in the coming weeks. “There hasn’t been much improvement in our situation since the floods. The disaster destroyed my land and my possessions,” he said. “But everyone is in the same situation because there are no jobs and no income.”

“Most people have already sold livestock to cope, but if they sold before the floods they would have received three lakhs for a pig (around USD 230), now they might only get around half that.” FAO will reach vulnerable Sagaing farmers in the coming months with rice and vegetable seeds, fertilizer, chickens, pigs and ducks, thanks to the support of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), through its Central Emergency Response Fund. However, more international support is urgently needed.

FAO Representative in Myanmar, Ms Bui Thi Lan, said while vulnerable farmers continued to face major hurdles in rebuilding their livelihoods after the floods, FAO’s support can help families get back on their feet. “These communities are resourceful and with our help they will face a shorter recovery period and can rebuild resilient agricultural livelihoods more quickly,” Ms Lan said.

“For example, a small animal can contribute to a family’s nutrition, or help them generate income through the sale of eggs and other products. Families can also breed these animals and then trade them to purchase seeds or pay for household costs such as education or medical care.” To urgently expand its operations, FAO has appealed for USD 12 million under the 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan to support more than 300 000 vulnerable farmers. FAO is working with partners in the Food Security Sector to restore livelihoods and enhance the resilience of affected communities through the provision of agricultural inputs, livestock assistance and sustainable income support.

Myanmar: Myanmar: Shan IDPs Need Resettling

5 February 2016 - 6:45am
Source: Mizzima News Country: Myanmar

About 1,500 people displaced by fighting now staying in Hai Pa IDP (internally displaced persons) camp in Mong Hsu Township, Central Shan State cannot return home and need immediate resettlement said the Shan Youth, Yangon organisation.

Over 10,000 residents of central Shan State were forced to flee their homes due to fighting between the Shan State Progressive Party (SSP/SSA) and the Myanmar Army in late 2015.

About half of those IDPs have been able to return home, but about 1,500 IDPs in Hai Pa IDP Camp still cannot return home said Sai Oo from Shan Youth, Yangon after members of the group had visited the camp to make donations.

He said: “The Tatmadaw [Myanmar Army] has set up camp in Tar Sarm Boo Village. The refugees can’t leave [Hai Pa IDP camp] yet. It’s the same in Nam Par Moung, Nam Soke, KoongNim, and Ho Nam villages. When they went to their villages to work a government military column kicked them out. There are still landmines left in the villages, that’s why these local residents are in immediate need of resettlement.”

He also explained that some of the IDPs are growing seasonal crops on land near to the camp. He said: “The item the IDPs need most is crop seed.”

Sai Oo also said that a total of 1,498 residents from 298 households in these five villages are still living at Hai Pa IDP Camp, but the camp is facing problems because the owner of the land where the camp is situated wants the land back so that he can start farming it again.

Shan Youth, Yangon also called on the new government to restore the ruined farmland so that it can be farmed again, remove landmines in the villages, set up no-fighting zones and solve the issues of villagers’ security, human rights violations and threats.

The villagers from Nam Par Moung and KoongNim villages have requested the authorities not to force them to go back home and to allow them to continue living at the IDP camp.

They said that if they return to the villages they would have difficulty re-establishing their lives because their houses have been burned down, their livestock has been killed and they risk being killed by landmines and unexploded shells.

Shan Youth, Yangon; Southern Shan State Youth Network; Peace and Justice Legal Aid Centre; Myanmar People’s Alliance and the Artist’s Group (Taunggyi) visited the refugee camps in Mong Hsu with the peace convoy from 28 to 31 January.

Courtesy BNI

Myanmar: Myanmar: Huge Blaze Razes Hundreds of Homes in Shan State’s Namhsan

5 February 2016 - 3:53am
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

MANDALAY — A massive fire tore through northern Shan State’s Namhsan on Thursday, reportedly destroying over 200 homes.

According to local eyewitnesses, including those who lost their homes, the blaze burned out of control as authorities struggled to gain access down narrow streets. Locals said the blaze broke out at a home used to store green tea leaves on Thursday afternoon.

“The fire engines could not [reach the affected area] but everyone helped the firemen extinguish the fire as much as they could. All of the houses were built from pinewood so the fire easily devoured them,” said Maung Kyaw, a local administration officer in the northern Shan State town.

According to local authorities, fire engines from Kyaukme, Hsipaw and other nearby towns were on their way to the scene at time of publication, while a temporary shelter for displaced persons was opened at the town’s monastery.

A full story will follow when more information becomes available.

Myanmar: Myanmar: Emergency Response Fund 2015 Overview

4 February 2016 - 10:43pm
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Australia, Myanmar, Sweden, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The Myanmar Emergency Response Fund (ERF) mobilises resources for partners to respond to the critical humanitarian needs in Myanmar. It provides funding to both national and international humanitarian organizations for activities that are in line with the United Nations and Partners Humanitarian Response Plan. In 2015, US$ 5 million was allocated to partners for life-saving humanitarian work in Myanmar, including US$ 1.3 million for the emergency response to the floods and landslides in Chin, Magway, Sagaing and Rakhine.

Myanmar: WFP Myanmar | Brief Reporting period: 01 October – 31 December 2015

4 February 2016 - 10:30am
Source: World Food Programme Country: Myanmar

Summary of WFP assistance: The current PRRO provides an opportunity to review and realign activities with national priorities in a period characterised by an unprecedented, rapid and multifaceted transition in Myanmar. WFP coordinates the project closely with the Government and aligns its activities with the national development framework as outlined in the 'Nay Pyi Taw Accord for Effective Development Cooperation, signed in January 2013. In Myanmar, high malnutrition rates and low education indicators remain a major concern. Natural disasters and conflict also pose continuing challenges. Towards the Zero Hunger Challenge (ZHC), WFP endeavours to contribute to more equitable development across the country and support national reconciliation efforts by reducing poverty, food insecurity and undernutrition and increasing resilience among the most vulnerable communities. WFP engagement, driven by the overarching goal to assist Myanmar reach Zero Hunger by 2025, is guided by three Zero Hunger Challenge priorities:

  • Emergency Preparedness and Response (Pillar I)

  • Nutrition (Pillar II)

  • Provision of Social Safety Nets (Pillar I & IV)

In line with WFP’s Strategic Objectives 1, 2, 4 and the Sustainable Development Goals, the project aims to:

  1. Prepare for and respond to recurrent natural disasters and other shocks in support of the Government’s response efforts (Strategic Objective 1);

  2. Assist post-disaster recovery through the restoration and rehabilitation of productive assets to improve household food security and create socio-economic opportunities for the most vulnerable groups, which contributes to national reconciliation efforts (Strategic Objective 2);

  3. Address undernutrition among children and pregnant and nursing women and support at-risk groups such as people living with HIV and TB clients (Strategic Objective 4);

  4. Improve access to, and enrolment and attendance at, primary schools (Strategic Objective 4); and

  5. Improve the sustainability of responses to food insecurity and undernutrition through knowledge sharing and capacity improvement (Strategic Objectives 1, 2 and 4).

Under relief activities, WFP provides life-saving food assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) affected by the intercommunal violence in Rakhine State as well as people displaced due to the ethnic conflict in Kachin and Shan. In addition, WFP provides life-saving food assistance for Kokang returnees and flood-affected people across states/regions of Ayeyarwaddy, Chin, Magway, Rakhine and Sagaing. For treatment and prevention of moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) as well as prevention of stunting in Magway, Rakhine, Kachin and Shan, WFP nutrition support is provided to pregnant and nursing mothers as well as malnourished children. WFP provides daily on-site feeding of high energy biscuits to pre- and primary schoolchildren. WFP also supports people living with HIV and TB clients in Kachin, Magway, Rakhine, Shan, Yangon and Wa. WFP works with communities in vulnerable areas to create assets that help (re)build livelihoods and improve people’s food security and resilience in the long term. WFP enables income opportunities for food insecure and vulnerable people in Chin, Magway, Mon, Rakhine and Wa.

Myanmar: Myanmar: Early signs of El Nino already evident as water shortages hit Shan State

3 February 2016 - 5:34am
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

THE National League for Democracy’s environmental conservation committee for Shan State will dig an artesian well for villagers living in the proximity of Heho township’s Let Maung village in a bid to supply them with water after they have been hit by shortages, it is known.

A shortage of water availability started to become apparent in the area on 11 January, and while it is not the first time locals have faced a shortage of water in the area, they have said water has run out much earlier this year than in years previous. “We’ve heard that about five villages around Let Maung village are suffering from water shortages. We will travel to the region and attempt to connect the villages with a water supply.

We will also conduct tests to see if it’s possible to dig an artesian well, and will then dig one should tests to prove it to be viable.” explained U Maung Maung Sein, chairperson of the aforementioned NLD committee.

Villages in the water scarce villages are currently relying on drinking water donated by donors. “Over roughly 300 households have been hit with this water shortage. We are financially supporting efforts so that those people have enough access to water, working together with youth groups to give assistance. We’re sourcing the water from the Heho dam.” said Ko Aung Hsan, general secretary of the Taungyoe literary and culture association from Heho.

Healthcare awareness is being conducted in the water shortage affected region in a bid to mitigate harm to the health of local residents.

Weather forecast experts have analysed that a weather front, known as El Nino, is to hit Myanmar with much more strength in 2016 than in previous years, which will cause water shortages and extreme heat.—Myitmakha News Agency

Myanmar: Water shortages hit Shan State

3 February 2016 - 2:08am
Source: Mizzima News Country: Myanmar

The National League for Democracy’s environmental conservation committee for Shan State will dig an artesian well for villagers living in the proximity of Heho Township’s Let Maung village in a bid to supply them with water after they have been hit by shortages, the Global New light of Myanmar reported on 3 February.

A shortage of water availability started to become apparent in the area on 11 January, and while it is not the first time locals have faced a shortage of water in the area, they have said water has run out much earlier this year than in years previous.

Villages in the water scarce villages are currently relying on drinking water donated by donors.

Weather forecast experts have analysed that a weather front, known as El Nino, is to hit Myanmar with much more strength in 2016 than in previous years, which will cause water shortages and extreme heat, the report said.