Myanmar - ReliefWeb News

Syndicate content
ReliefWeb - Updates
Updated: 55 min 50 sec ago

Myanmar: Despite Cease-fire, Myanmar Landmine Scourge Goes Unaddressed

12 May 2016 - 1:30am
Source: Voice of America Country: Myanmar

Paul Vrieze

LOIIKAW, KARENNI STATE— In a dusty, small workshop on a quiet street in Loikaw, three men are busy adjusting plastic frames and pieces of wood. They are creating simple prosthetic legs for the victims of a hidden but ever present danger here in Karenni State: landmines.

Like many ethnic areas in Myanmar, the poor, isolated southeastern state has been wrecked by decades of ethnic conflict and its rural areas have some of the highest levels of landmine contamination in the country.

The men at the workshop know the weapon’s consequences well. All three are former ethnic Karenni (Kayah) fighters who lost a leg to mines. Kyaw Win, 40, leads the workshop in the state capital and recalled the incident that left him maimed.

“It was June 2003, we were marching through the forest and rivers for the KNPLF to organize villagers, then I stepped on a land mine. It was terrible,” he said, while using the acronym of the Karenni National People's Liberation Front, a rebel group turned pro-government militia in 1994.

Kyaw Win was taken to Loikaw and on to the Mae Tao clinic in the Thai border town of Mae Sot, which treats war-torn communities from southeastern Myanmar. After recovering from his amputation, the clinic trained him in prosthetics-making and he returned to set up a KNPLF-supported workshop in 2007. It has since fitted some 750 people with prostheses, the vast majority being civilian mine victims.

“I wanted to struggle for a new life, as my mind is still strong,” Kyaw Win said of his motivation. “The victims are just poor villagers who go fishing and farming in their areas and then step on mines — they need help.”

But he added the workshop has been recently lacking funding.

Heavily mined

Myanmar has the third-highest mine casualty rate in the world after Colombia and Afghanistan, according to the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, which said between 1999 to 2014 it recorded 3,745 casualties, 396 of whom died. “This is believed to be only a small fraction of the actual figure,” the group noted, as Myanmar lacks official data on mine incidents.

In 2014 alone, there were 251 casualties in Myanmar, 45 of whom died, according to the Monitor’s most recent report from November 2015. In 2013, there were 145 casualties. Lacking exact data, the group refrains from distinguishing trends, but says use of the weapon continues unabated.

“Mine warfare has consistently been a characteristic of armed conflict in Myanmar. That has not changed,” said Yeshua Moser-Puanguswan, the group’s Myanmar researcher.

The country has not signed the 1997 Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty and in 2014 Myanmar, Syria and North Korea were the world’s only countries “with confirmed new use” of mines, said the Monitor.

The military is suspected of deploying antipersonnel mines produced at its arms factories, while ethnic rebels use foreign-produced and improvised mines as an important defensive weapon that prevents them from being overrun.

The Bago Region, as well as Karenni and Karen states in the southeast, remain Myanmar’s most heavily mined and incident-prone areas, according to the Monitor, followed by Kachin and Shan states in the north.

The cease-fire initiated by the previous government in recent years brought a reduction in conflict in the southeast and led to the September 2015 ‘nationwide’ cease-fire with eight rebel groups, but there has been little progress on the landmine issue. In the north, fighting with the Kachin Independence Army and other groups has worsened, and so has mine use and civilian displacement.

International aid

The international community was to quick to hail the government’s cease-fire talks and in 2013 the EU donated 3.5 million euro ($4.6 million) to create a government-run Myanmar Mine Action Center. INGOs such MAG, Halo Trust and Norwegian People’s Aid arrived eager to help with mapping and de-mining, victim assistance and public awareness raising—all of which were banned by the former junta.

However, the government and military failed to authorize international de-mining and mapping, saying cease-fire talks should be concluded first. The 2015 nationwide cease-fire commits to de-mining “in accordance with the progress of the peace process,” but since its signing there has been no mine clearance approval.

“The mine action center has failed completely, it doesn't exist. A fraction of the (EU) money has been used for some training and cars, a small survey,” said Bjarne Ussing, a program manager with DanChurchAid Humanitarian Mine Action, who works in southeastern Myanmar.

The cease-fire’s text on de-mining, he noted, is somewhat “vaguely-worded,” adding, “We will have to see what that means.”

The lack of de-mining progress, he said, also threatens plans by Myanmar and Thailand to repatriate some 150,000 refugees to the southeastern region in coming years.

The new National League for Democracy (NLD) government will soon resume the cease-fire process, but security issues remain under the authority of the powerful military.

Still, Melissa Andersson, Norwegian People’s Aid country director, remains hopeful that progress could finally be made, saying, “It may still be possible to start with the clearance of some areas that are less strategically sensitive.”

Thailand: Feature - After 30 years in Thailand, a glimmer of hope for refugees from Myanmar

11 May 2016 - 5:31pm
Source: AlertNet Country: Myanmar, Thailand

Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 11 May 2016 00:01 GMT

By Alisa Tang

MAE SOT, Thailand, May 11 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Ta Mla Saw was about seven when she and her family fled from Myanmar troops attacking her village in the country's ethnic Karen region, and crossed the river into Thailand to the safety of refugee camps dotted along the border.

Read the full story on the Thomson Reuters Foundation

World: Consolidating gains and accelerating efforts to control and eliminate malaria in developing countries, particularly in Africa, by 2015 - Note by the Secretary-General (A/70/833)

11 May 2016 - 10:36am
Source: UN General Assembly Country: Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Botswana, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guinea, India, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Liberia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nigeria, Paraguay, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, World, Zambia, Zimbabwe

The Secretary-General has the honour to transmit to the General Assembly the report of the Director-General of the World Health Organization, submitted in accordance with General Assembly resolution 69/325.

Report of the Director-General of the World Health Organization on consolidating gains and accelerating efforts to control and eliminate malaria in developing countries, particularly in Africa, by 2015

Summary

The present report is submitted in response to General Assembly resolution 69/325. It provides a review of progress in the implementation of the resolution, focusing on the adoption and scaling-up of interventions recommended by the World Health Organization in malaria-endemic countries. It also provides an assessment of progress towards the 2015 global malaria targets, including Millennium Development Goal 6, targets set through the African Union and the World Health Assembly, and goals set through the Global Malaria Action Plan of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership. It elaborates on the challenges limiting the full achievement of the targets, and provides recommendations to ensure that progress is accelerated towards the goals of the Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030 in the coming years.

I. Introduction

  1. While malaria is a preventable and treatable disease, it continues to have a devastating impact on people’s health and livelihoods around the world. In 2015, approximately 3.2 billion people were at risk of the disease in 95 countries and territories, and an estimated 214 million malaria cases occurred (uncertainty range: 149 million-303 million). The disease killed 438,000 people (uncertainty range: 236,000-635,000), mostly children under 5 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a multi-pronged strategy to reduce the malaria burden, including vector control interventions, preventive therapies, diagnostic testing, quality-assured treatment and strong malaria surveillance.

  2. The present report highlights progress and challenges in the control and elimination of malaria in the context of General Assembly resolution 69/325. It draws on the World Malaria Report 2015, issued by WHO in December 2015. The analysis is based on the latest available comprehensive data (2014) received from malaria-endemic countries and organizations supporting global malaria efforts and includes projections to 2015 where it is feasible to do so. Data from 2015 are currently being collected and reviewed by WHO. Projections for 2015 were also published in The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015.

  3. Between 2005 and 2015, malaria received worldwide recognition as a priority global health issue. Under the umbrella of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, endemic countries, United Nations agencies, bilateral donors, public-private partnerships, scientific organizations, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector worked together to scale up WHO-recommended interventions, harmonize activities and improve strategic planning, programme management and funding availability. A steep rise in international funding enabled endemic countries to expand their malaria programmes. Since 2010, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) has provided more than $4 billion for malaria interventions, while the Governments of the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have been the second and third largest bilateral funders.

  4. The success of efforts to control and eliminate malaria is measured through an analysis of trends in the disease burden and intervention scale-up, and a review of progress made towards a set of global goals and targets, which have been designed through intergovernmental processes or set in the context of global initiatives. For the period 2000 to 2015, the four main sets of goals and targets were: Millennium Development Goal 6, targets set through the African Union and the World Health Assembly, and goals set by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership through the Global Malaria Action Plan. Further details are provided in section IV of the report. Regional and subregional targets for malaria control and elimination are not addressed here.

Thailand: After 30 years in Thailand, a glimmer of hope for refugees from Myanmar

11 May 2016 - 5:57am
Source: Reuters - AlertNet Country: Myanmar, Thailand

BY ALISA TANG

MAE SOT, Thailand (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Ta Mla Saw was about seven when she and her family fled from Myanmar troops attacking her village in the country's ethnic Karen region, and crossed the river into Thailand to the safety of refugee camps dotted along the border.

Read Full Article on AlertNet

World: Forced Migration Review No. 52: Thinking ahead: displacement, transition, solutions

11 May 2016 - 5:22am
Source: Forced Migration Review, University of Oxford Country: Brazil, Burundi, Canada, Colombia, Ghana, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, Myanmar, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sweden, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, World, Yemen

The new issue of FMR explores the ideas and practices that are being tried out in order to engage both development and humanitarian work in support of ‘transitions’ and ‘solutions’ for displaced people. What we need, says one author, is “full global recognition that the challenge of forced displacement is an integral part of the development agenda too”. FMR issue 52 includes 32 articles on ‘Thinking ahead: displacement, transition, solutions’, plus ten ‘general’ articles on other aspects of forced migration.

Myanmar: Hail storm destroys Shan tea plantations

11 May 2016 - 12:41am
Source: Government of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

A spat of hail storms which hit upper Myanmar last month have had unforeseen side effects on the tea plantations of the Nam-Shan township village of Mahnlone, Shan State, which started to wither up and die during the end of April, according to plantation owners.

“Our whole village makes a living off the tea plantations on this mountain side. We were still picking tea leaves in the few days after the hail storm. It wasn’t long after that when the tea crops slowly started drying out, to the point whereby the whole plantation has now withered up with nothing left to pick.” said U Thein Zaw, a tea plantation owner from Mahnlone village.

He continued by stating that the drying up of tea plants during the start of May, the time when tea leaves are soft and ripe for picking, has effectively ended the 2016-17 tea picking season, rendering local tea pickers in dire straits for whom tea picking is their sole form of employment.

U Mya Kyaw, head of the Department of Agriculture for Lashio, explained the wilting up of tea crops is likely the combined result of the velocity with which the hail stone impacted the tea plants, bacteria in present within the hail stones themselves, together sweltering summer temperatures.

“Our homes were destroyed by the gale force winds. Now without a place to live and the death of our tea crops, I don’t know how we’re going to survive anymore. I’m just going to have to order my sons and daughter to go seek work in China.” said Daw Dipogyein, a local tea picker.

A local youth charity group has made it know tea crops were not the only victims of the hail storms, with approximately fifty households in the village tract, together with a local primary school, flattened by the storm’s ferocious winds.

Myitmakha News Angency

World: 2016 Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID 2016)

10 May 2016 - 8:00pm
Source: Norwegian Refugee Council, Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iraq, Kenya, Kiribati, Malawi, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, World, Yemen

28 MILLION PEOPLE FORCIBLY DISPLACED BY CONFLICT AND DISASTERS IN 2015 AND MILLIONS MORE STILL INVISIBLE: IDMC NEW REPORT HIGHLIGHTS GLOBAL CRISIS OF INTERNAL DISPLACEMENT

Conflict, violence and disasters internally displaced 27.8 million people in 2015, subjecting a record number of men, women and children to the trauma and upheaval of being forcibly displaced within their own country.

"This is the equivalent of the combined populations of New York City, London, Paris and Cairo grabbing what they can carry, often in a state of panic, and setting out on a journey filled with uncertainty," said Jan Egeland, the Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). “Put another way, around 66,000 people abandoned their homes every day of 2015.”

Today, NRC's Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) publishes its new Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID 2016), marking a breakthrough for IDMC as it synthesizes all of its reporting on global internal displacement into one report. This will be supported by a new Global Data Platform which will continually update the figures online.

“By reporting on all situations of internal displacement, regardless of their cause, our intention is to provide an ever more holistic picture of what has truly become a global crisis,” said Alexandra Bilak, Director (a.i.) of IDMC.

The report covers internal displacement caused by conflict and sudden-onset disasters, on which IDMC has been the global authority for years. In addition it now also explores displacement currently "off the grid", such as that caused by criminal and gang violence, slow-onset disasters like drought, and development projects. It also takes the reader “inside the grid” and presents some of the methodological and conceptual challenges faced in trying to paint as complete a picture as possible.

“Having comprehensive and accurate figures is essential to efforts to alleviate the suffering and needs of tens of millions of highly vulnerable people. National governments have primary responsibility for collecting this data, and for protecting and assisting internally displaced people. Sadly, this responsibility is not fulfilled in many contexts,” Bilak said.

The report makes sobering reading. Some 8.6 million new displacements associated with conflict and violence were recorded in 2015, and as of the end of the year the total including those who fled in previous years stood at 40.8 million. “This is the highest figure ever recorded, and twice the number of refugees worldwide,” Egeland said.

The Middle East and North Africa bore the brunt of new conflict-related displacement in 2015, with 4.8 million people internally displaced, with Syria, Yemen and Iraq accounting for over half of all new conflict-induced internal displacement worldwide.

Of the ten countries with the highest number of people internally displaced by conflict, five - Colombia,
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, South Sudan and Sudan - have been on the list every year since 2003. “This is further evidence that in the absence of the help IDPs need, displacement tends to drag on for years and even decades,” Bilak said.

As if this were not enough, the number of people internally displaced by disasters in 2015 was 19.2 million in 113 countries. Over the past eight years, a total of 203.4 million disaster-related displacements have been recorded. As in previous years, south and east Asia were worst-affected, with India, China and Nepal accounting for 3.7m, 3.6m and 2.6m people displaced respectively.
The vast majority of displacement associated with disasters is triggered by weather-related hazards such as storms and floods, but the earthquakes in Nepal were a stark reminder of the potential of geophysical hazards.

Additionally, preliminary estimates of internal displacement by other causes suggest at least a million people were forcibly displaced by criminal violence in Mexico and Central America, and tens of millions more by development projects such as dams, urban renewal projects and mega sporting events. “This report illustrates the many challenges to addressing this global crisis of internal displacement. It also highlights the glaring absence of political solutions to address displacement, and constitutes an important wake-up call to national governments and global policy-makers alike.” Bilak said.

NOTES TO EDITORS

From 11 May, 2016, a micro website for the 2016 Global Report on Internal Displacement can be found at:

www.internal-displacement.org/globalreport2016 This new report replaces both the ‘Global Overview’ and the ‘Global Estimates’, IDMC’s previous flagship reports on conflict and disaster-related internal displacement.

Media are welcome to attend the launch of the IDMC 2016 Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID 2016) on Wednesday, 11 May 2016 at Chatham House, London by registering at https://www.chathamhouse.org/event/global-crisis-internal-displacement Media based in Geneva are also invited to attend a second launch event on 13 May at the CICG in Geneva (for more info please contact info@idmc.ch)

What is the difference between an IDP and a refugee?
The main difference between IDPs and refugees is that internally displaced people remain within the borders of their own country. Refugees have crossed an international border in search of refuge, and this gives them legal refugee status which entitles them to certain rights and international protection. However an IDP is not a legal status because IDPs are still under the jurisdiction of their own government and may not claim any rights additional to those shared by their fellow citizens.

FOR INTERVIEWS WITH JAN EGELAND, ALEXANDRA BILAK OR ELIZABETH RUSHING PLEASE CONTACT:

Ms Sian Bowen Head of Communications Email: sian.bowen@idmc.ch Office Tel: 00 41 22 552 3612 Mobile: 00 41 (0) 78 630 16 78 Ms Francesca Da Ros (Geneva)
Communications Coordinator Email : francesca.da.ros@idmc.ch Office Tel: + 41 22 552 3645 About the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)
The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) (http://www.internal-displacement.org) was established by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in 1998. Monitoring internal displacement caused by conflict, violence, human rights violations and natural disasters worldwide, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) is widely respected as the leading source of information and analysis on internal displacement throughout the world.
Follow IDMC on social media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/InternalDisplacement Twitter: @IDMC_Geneva

World: Polio this week as of 04 May 2016

10 May 2016 - 6:10pm
Source: Global Polio Eradication Initiative Country: Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Lao People's Democratic Republic (the), Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ukraine, World
  • From the 17 April to the 1 May, 155 countries and territories participated in the historic trivalent to bivalent oral polio vaccine switch, withdrawing the type two component of the vaccine to protect future generations against circulating vaccine derived polioviruses. Track the switch live.

  • A group of independent experts in Ukraine met to assess the country’s response to the polio outbreak and concluded that transmission of the poliovirus has likely stopped in the country. However, they emphasized the need to continue to strengthen immunization and surveillance to protect children in Ukraine against further outbreaks.

Myanmar: Humanitarian Update: New displacement in nothern Shan State, Myanmar (as of 10 May 2016)

10 May 2016 - 7:34am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Myanmar

On May 7-8 2016, an estimated 1,600 people left their villages in Kyaukme and Hsipaw townships in Shan State following heightened tensions between armed groups in the area.

According to he Government’s Relief and Resettlement Department (RRD), 1037 newly displaced people (316 households) arrived to Kayukme Town and are staying in the seven sites. In Hsipaw Town, 596 people (143 households) have arrived and are sheltering in two monastries.

The Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) has distributes some relief items in Hsipaw and distributions in Kyaukme are ongoing today. The RRD has also provided relief kits and food sufficient for three days in both locations.

An inter-agency team of UN and NO humanitarian staff is today travelling to Hsipaw for an assessment of humanitarian needs.

Myanmar: LWF distributing purified drinking water in Kyay Taw Paik Seik Village

10 May 2016 - 12:53am
Source: Lutheran World Federation Country: Myanmar

On May 8, 2016, LWF distributed 380 bottles of purified drinking water (20 liters per bottle) to Kyay Taw Paik Seik village collaborating with the Fire Brigade Department and Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement.

It has been about one month that water ran out in two of the three village ponds, and the level of available water from the last pond is only about one feet depth and getting dirty. Some of the families in the village have no other water sources.

Paik Seik villager Ma Aye Kyi said, "It has been more than one month that we have been facing drinking water shortage within our village. For domestic-use, it takes me about 20 minutes to collect water on foot. For drinking, we have to buy purified drinking water. It cost us 600 MMK per 20 liter bottle. We cannot afford to buy the water bottles we have to exchange them for full bottles each time, but since LWF started providing water and bottle , it is more convenient for buying water. Additionally, LWF provided funds to the Village Development Committee for building two tarpaulin ponds with the purpose of distributing water for domestic-use for the whole village.”

U Maung San Shwe, villager of Paik Seik, also shared his experiences, "I have to collect water from a nearby village using my boat. It can carry two or three days worth of water per trip. But, I can't collect water at just any time because I have to check the tidal conditions. It is much more convenient at high tide. When I discovered LWF will distribute drinking water collaboratively with the Government departments, our water problem was reduced."

It should be noted that the Fire Brigade Department has continued distributing drinking water to Paik Seik and nearby villages daily since May 8, 2016.

Myanmar: In Shan State, New Water Sources Combat an Old Scourge

10 May 2016 - 12:45am
Source: Irrawaddy Country: Myanmar

By KYAW PHYO THA / THE IRRAWADDY| Monday, May 9, 2016

AUNG BAN, Shan State — Never in her life had Grandma Oke seen running water.

Like many other people living in the remote village of Pyu Laung in southern Shan State’s Naung Taya sub-township, the 75-year-old Pa-O woman had only ever known water from lakes, natural springs in the nearby forest and, of course, falling from the clouds.

But these villagers also knew from experience that these sources of water were not particularly reliable, especially in the summer, when each year the specter of a water shortage looms.

So last week, when water was pumped from hundreds of meters below ground through the village’s first drilled well, Oke grabbed her walking stick and went to witness this spectacle: water coming through pipes.

“It was the first time in my life I had seen so much water bursting from pipes. I was overjoyed!” the elderly woman said.

Around her at the drilling site, young and old alike were also filled with excitement. A local Pa-O music band was playing a traditional tune to celebrate the “auspicious moment”—villagers knew that from then on they would never have to go another summer without water.

“More than 1,600 people from six villages can use this water,” said Kyaw Soe, a water project manager at the Brighter Future Myanmar Foundation (BFM), which built the well.

The foundation has been drilling wells for villages suffering from water shortages since 2014, collaborating with the government for equipment and expertise. As of April, the foundation had drilled 110 wells, most of which are in southern Shan State and Upper Burma.

“There are a few other organizations also drilling. But if you look at the number of wells and the scale of success, BFM simply outperforms them,” said Maung Maung Soe, a former assistant director at the government-run Water Resources Utilization Department in Shan State.

A Drought on the Highlands

Perched at an elevation of about 1,000 meters in Burma’s mountainous east, Pyu Laung village is another example of village life in Shan State, the country’s largest state, boasting a population just north of 5.8 million people, some 75 percent of whom live in rural areas.

At least in part because the Shan State government’s development plan has yet to reach every corner of the state, it is customary for people in rural villages to go to nearby lakes to retrieve water for domestic use. When it rains, they collect water in large cement tanks, using the water both for drinking as well as for storage for the usually dryer summer months.

Shan State, much like the rest of Burma, has been suffering from an unusually powerful El Niño weather pattern this year. In the southern parts of the state, many springs and wells have already dried up, and the lakes on which local communities rely for domestic and farming purposes have dramatically shrunk since February, leaving many villagers with water access problems that are more dire than they have been in previous years.

As a result, Nan Zi, from Kalaw Township’s Lel Gaung village, has had to walk 2.5 miles twice a day to reach a creek that still has water, all while carrying two yellow jerry cans.

“This summer is worse than the previous one. There are more people than there is water available [at the creek],” said the 46-year-old Pa-O woman.

Yet she explained that this water is unclean, meaning that villagers have to purify the water with Alum before they can use it. A mother of eight children, Nan Zi said the 10 gallons of water she collects are not enough for cooking, drinking and for the cattle at home.

“Even the cows don’t have enough drinking water,” she said.

In Shan State’s Pindaya Township, known for its cooler weather, the gnawing water shortage was also on display, perhaps even more visibly. Its landmark Pote Ta Lote Lake, a source of fresh water for local residents, has radically shrunk this year, leaving water only in the middle of the lake.

Than Min Htut, head of the township’s general hospital, told The Irrawaddy that nearly 60 percent of residents, with Pindaya Township’s population totaling some 80,000 people, have been affected by the water shortage and that it has started to take a toll on people’s health, as they have come to rely on any water that is available. In some villages, this means that people have turned to still water from muddy lakes where cattle also quench their thirst. In 2014, a water community water tank in Pindaya Township’s Sha Bya village was contaminated, lending anecdotal support to a government census finding from that year saying that 45.3 percent of people in Shan State are without access to clean water.

“The most common illnesses here are diarrhea, typhoid and skin infections due to a lack of clean water and personal hygiene. Children are particularly vulnerable,” Than Min Htut said.

Lending a Helping Hand

Charity groups in Shan State have been flooded with requests for help from villages hit by water shortages. Many activists have driven water bowsers to villages to distribute water.

Maung Maung Soe, formerly of the Water Resources Utilization Department, said the department could not drill enough wells in the affected areas due to a limited budget.

“[The department] only managed to drill one or two wells per year because we’ve had to share the budget with other departments,” Maung Maung Soe said.

In the past, donors have also tried to dig wells in the affected areas as a long-term solution to the water shortage problem, but most of these attempts have failed. (Legend has it that during his travels in Shan State, a thirsty Burmese king asked the local people for water. But his request was ignored. Furious at being rebuffed, he cursed the people to a life in which they would never have enough water.)

Kyaw Tun, a Rangoon-based geologist, said that it is difficult to extract underground water in Shan State because of the overwhelming presence of limestone and the fact that water can really only be detected through cracks in rocks below ground.

“If you don’t have the technology made available through geophysics, it’s quite painstaking to extract water [in Shan State] because you don’t know where the water is. You have to dig well after well until you finally find it,” Kyaw Tun said.

The Brighter Future Myanmar Foundation took on this financial risk, spending between 7 and 15 million kyats (between US$6,360 and $13,630) for each well.

“Out of 110 wells, only 71 have been successful,” said BFM project manager Kyaw Soe.

Founded by KBZ Bank in 2008, BFM is active nationwide in disaster relief, women’s empowerment and community development, though it is mostly known for its attempts to distribute water, drill wells and build community water tanks primarily in southern Shan State. The foundation recently spent $1.5 million to buy its own drilling machine.

Nang Lang Kham, director of the foundation, said the project is the brainchild of her father Aung Ko Win, chairman of KBZ Bank, who experienced water shortages as a school teacher in Bawsai, a lead-mining area in southern Shan State.

The chairman drilled the community’s first well in the summer of 2014, and it still distributes water to the local community there.

“Emboldened by a successful first attempt as well as by requests from people from hard-hit villages, we continue doing this work,” Nang Lang Kham said. The 27-year-old added that parents in the villages are encouraged to stress to their children not to take water for granted.

“I don’t want children to have the impression that water just comes from the tap. I want them to value and use this water effectively,” she explained.

Yet Nang Lang Kham admitted that merely reacting to water shortage by distributing water and drilling wells was not a durable, long-term solution to a perennial problem.

“I want to go beyond this and create sustainability,” she said, explaining that, for instance, she would like for the foundation to “re-charge” underground water by growing trees and engaging in other forms of environmental conservation with similarly like-minded groups.

While the foundation primarily focuses on rural areas, its projects have sought to create ripple effects in cities such as the Shan State capital Taunggyi, where, according to the city administration office, water can only be supplied to 50 percent of the city’s population.

On a recent evening, people were queuing at the foundation’s community water taps that snake around the slopes of the capital’s Sein Pan and Shwe Taung quarters, where most of the city’s 8,000 residents live. Community leader-turned-Buddhist monk U Khemar Nanda remembers that, back in 2004, similar throngs of people would assemble at his monastery during the summer to retrieve water from the tap connected to a well.

Some 12 years later, that tap is now deserted. Since last year, the foundation has been pumping water up from the ground and into community water tanks, then distributing water from the reservoirs to people twice a day.

“This is a merit that these donors can be proud of for the rest of their lives. They did something really good for many people,” U Khemar Nanda said.

For Nang Lang Kham, this merit is tied to a sense of service to the community, which she said is in “the bloodline of KBZ.”

“A lack of interest in the community where you run your business doesn’t do any good. If you want to exist in that community, you yourself have to be in that community,” she said.

Thailand: Refugee camp fire leaves dozens homeless

10 May 2016 - 12:24am
Source: Democratic Voice of Burma Country: Myanmar, Thailand

Nearly 60 people were left homeless when a fire broke out at the Umpiem refugee camp in Thailand’s Tak Province on Saturday.

The fire that started in the camp’s Zone-C and destroyed 13 homes, leaving 58 people empty-handed and in need of assistance, said the zone’s administrator Naw Lwe Say.

“On Sunday, representatives of the [United Nations refugee agency] UNHCR and NGOs as well as local Thai military personnel arrived at the camp and handed out 35 kg of rice, frying pans and blankets. At the moment, there’s no need to worry about food, as the affected residents are now staying over at their friends’ houses,” said Naw Lwe Say.

The camp’s officials are investigating the cause of the fire.

There are over 10,000 refugees from Burma in the Umpiem camp, located near the Thai-Burmese border. Recently, the refugees were informed by the UNHCR to start preparing for repatriation back to Burma but no time has been set for the move yet.

Reporting by DVB

Myanmar: Creating livelihood opportunities in conflict-affected communities in Rakhine

9 May 2016 - 10:57am
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization Country: Myanmar

Life as a widow in Warcha village, Rakhine State is not easy. An Bira Hatu says she cannot afford the cost (around USD25 per month per child) of sending her children to the secondary school in the village down the road, but she hopes this will change next year. Her and her three children aged 10 to 16 rely on food assistance and the income from the children’s casual agricultural labour to survive. “Now we are receiving FAO assistance with goats, we will be able to generate more income. With the extra income we will use the money to buy food and use the rest for the children to attend school,” says An Bira Hatu.

In conflict-affected areas of northern Rakhine, malnutrition rates are high and protein consumption low. In the townships of Buthidaung and Maungdaw, where Warcha is located, the percentage of children consuming the minimum acceptable diet is alarmingly low, at two and three per cent respectively. “We have rice and some vegetables three times a day. Sometimes, if I have extra money I will be able to buy fish,” she continued.

With the highest poverty rate in the country - a staggering 78 per cent according to World Bank figures - Rakhine is one of the least developed areas of Myanmar. Three years on from significant outbreaks of inter-communal violence across the State, hundreds of thousands of people remain in need of humanitarian assistance and more than 100 000 people are still displaced in camps. Over one million Muslims, most of whom call themselves “Rohingya” but who the Government refers to as “Bengali”, have unresolved citizenship status, affecting their access to services and freedom of movement.

To compound this further, Rakhine was one of the worst-hit parts of Myanmar during the floods associated with Cyclone Komen in 2015. Over 10 000 homes were destroyed, and 20 per cent of the State’s paddy fields were damaged, along with more than 13 000 hectares of fish ponds and 23 000 hectares of shrimp ponds. Paddy crop yields are estimated to have decreased by up to 15 per cent following the disaster. With funding from the Central Emergency Response Fund, FAO is providing assistance to 3 300 conflict- and flood-affected households in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships.

Before the winter crop season, FAO provided 1700 households with paddy seed, cowpea and vegetable seeds to help them recover from losses due to the flooding. In the area of livestock, FAO provided 1600 households with goats and pigs and training in animal care and breeding. “FAO’s project in northern Rakhine State aims to improve income-generating opportunities and diversify livelihoods through the provision of livestock and agricultural inputs. At the same time, we are increasing access and availability of food, particularly high quality animal proteins, to cover basic needs and improve nutrition. This helps communities to be more resilient to withstand future natural disasters,” said FAO Myanmar’s Emergency Coordinator, Mr Andrea Berloffa.

In total, FAO’s CERF-funded project is assisting more than 18 000 conflict-affected individuals in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships of northern Rakhine. This is part of FAO’s broader emergency programme in Myanmar, with projects in Sagaing, Chin and Rakhine. FAO has called for USD 12.1 million to provide assistance to 332 750 conflict- and flood-affected people under the 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan for Myanmar. A further USD 7.6 million is urgently required to reach this total target population.

Myanmar: Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot (3 - 9 May 2016)

9 May 2016 - 5:24am
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: China, Fiji, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines

MYANMAR

During the past week, strong winds, heavy rain and hail continued to affect various parts of Myanmar. The Relief and Resettlement Department (RRD) reported over 64,500 people have been affected with over 23,300 houses damaged. It is expected that heavy rainfall will continue in the coming days heightening the risk of landslides in Chin and Kachin states.

On 3 May, fire swept through "Baw Du Pha 2", an IDP camp in Sittwe, Rakhine State, destroying 49 IDP long houses and affecting 392 families. There have been no confirmed fatalities. RRD, along with NGO and UN agencies have provided assistance, including emergency shelter materials, food and NFIs. Mobile health teams have deployed to support the State Health Department to meet health needs.

PHILIPPINES

The City of Bayawan in the Western Visayas region is the latest to declare a state of calamity due to El Niño. About 30 per cent of the city’s response fund will be used to assist 24,500 families (122,600 people) affected by drought. While in Maguindanao province, 124,100 families (620,500 people) are reported to be affected by drought. Local authorities are providing food rations. To date, states of calamity have been declared in 11 provinces, 11 cities across the country.

INDONESIA

In Keerom District (Papua Province), gastroenteritis virus is suspected to have caused the deaths of 77 children over the past month. The cases are suspected to be a result of contaminated water following a series of flash floods in March. The Ministry of Health is currently conducting an investigation.

CHINA

On 8 May, heavy rainfall reportedly triggered a landslide in Taining County in south-eastern Fujian province. According to media reports, 14 people have been killed and 25 are still missing. Search and rescue operations are ongoing, and Government officials report that over 600 rescue personnel have been deployed. The National Meteorological Center issued a warning on the heightened risk of further geological disasters in parts of Fujian and Jiangxi provinces and the Zhuang Autonomous Region.

FIJI

More than two months since Tropical Cyclone Winston hit Fiji, food security remains a concern which has been compounded by flooding in April that destroyed crops and increased vegetable prices. The Government’s food ration distributions for 370,000 people affected by the cyclone will end in the coming week but food vouchers will continue to assist 70,000 people on social welfare. Partners are conducting food security monitoring to ensure that the situation does not deteriorate.

Myanmar: Myanmar: Kayin State - All Projects Under Implementation (Village Tract Level) - February 18, 2016

9 May 2016 - 5:19am
Source: Myanmar Information Management Unit Country: Myanmar

Note: This map represents information as reported by organisations contributing to the MIMU 3W. Inclusion of an organisation on this map does not imply endorsement by the United Nations or its projects. Note that this map shows presence of an organisation and does not indicate the volume of assistance, the number of beneficiaries, or the extent to which needs are met or unmet.

Overview of the March 2016 3W - Kayin, state

Myanmar: Overview of the March 2016 3W - Kayin, state

9 May 2016 - 5:15am
Source: European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office, Government of Canada, Myanmar Information Management Unit Country: Myanmar

The MIMU 3W gathers inputs from participating agencies on Who is doing What, Where, across Myanmar. It is currently conducted every 6 months.

218 agencies participated in the Mar 2016 3W, providing information on their activities in 22 sectors and 158 sub-sectors which have been defined by technical/sector working groups. There is still likely to be under-reporting of the specific activities of field-based local NGOs and CBOs.

The tables and charts refer to projects under implementation as of February 18, 2016. Information on planned and recently completed projects is included in the 3W dataset which is available on the MIMU website, as well as in the MIMU 3W Dashboard http://www.themimu.info/3w-dashboard which shows agencies' activities to Township level.

1. Active Organizations in Kayin

A total of 73 organizations reported projects under implementation in Kayin. The majority are NGOs including 16 border-based organizations. Some level of agency activity has been reported almost in all village tracts (96%), with agencies most concentrated in Hpa-An, Kyainseikgyi, Thandaunggyi, Hlaingbwe and Kawkareik townships.

2. Projects by Sector

139 projects were reported in 16 sectors (17% of the total projects reported to the 3W; agencies reported activities in 96% of the village tracts/towns in Kayin State). In terms of the frequency of project interventions:

Health is the most widespread intervention with 25 organizations reportedly implementing 39 projects in 811 villages (301 village tracts). There is some level of health activity in all 7 townships, though more concentrated in the townships of Hpa-An (17 agencies), Hlaingbwe (14 agencies) and Kawkareik (13 agencies). The majority of health interventions are Malaria Programme (603 villages), Reproductive Health Care (146 villages), Maternal and Child Health (114 villages) and Health Education (109 villages).

Education is the second most widespread intervention with 15 organizations reportedly implementing 19 projects in 294 villages (15 organizations), most frequently in support to ECD (194 villages) and Quality Basic Education/Formal Education (115 villages). Education activities are also found in all 7 townships but most concentrated in Hpa-An (9 agencies), Hlaingbwe (7 agencies), Kawkareik and Kyainseikgyi (6 agencies in each).

WASH is the third main sector, reportedly through 18 projects under implementation by 16 agencies in 142 villages. The majority of WASH interventions are Hygiene Promotion & Behaviour Change (98 villages), Water Supply — Household (56 villages) and Water Supply-Community (54 villages). WASH activities are found in all 7 townships but most concentrated in Kyainseikgyi (9 agencies), Thandaunggyi (5 agencies), Hpa-An and Kawkareik and (4 agencies in each).

Protection is the fourth main sector with 13 agencies reporting 17 projects under implementation in 430 villages (13 organizations). The majority are focused on Civil Documentation (331 villages), Child Protection (121 villages) and Awareness Raising on Protection Issues (34 villages). Protection activities are found in all 7 townships but most concentrated in Hpa-An (8 agencies).

Livelihoods is the fifth main sector with 13 agencies reporting activities in 131 villages, mostly in Income Generation (70 villages), Support to CSOs (43 villages) and Vocational Education and Training (36 villages). Similarly, the activities are also found in all 7 townships but most concentrated in Hpa-An and Kyainseikgyi (7 agencies in each).

Governance is the sixth main sector, reported through 12 projects under implementation by 11 agencies in all 7 townships, most concentrated in Hpa-An (6 agencies). The majority are focused on Strengthening Civil Society (22 villages) and Economic and Development Policy/Planning (14 villages).

Agriculture is the seventh main sector with 7 agencies reporting activities in 104 villages across 59 village tracts, mostly in Capacity Building (Agricultural Livelihood) (76 villages) and Agricultural Inputs (51 villages).

• There is far less attention reported to other sectors; Mine Action (4 agencies, 13 0 villages), Disaster Risk Reduction (6 agencies, 73 villages), Environment (1 agency, 38 villages), Peace Building and Conflict Prevention (7 agencies, 26 villages), Infrastructure (6 agencies, 26 villages), Coordination ( 1 agency, 23 villages), Food (7 agencies, 18 village tracts), Social Protection (1 agency, 3 village tract/town) and Nutrition (1 agency).

• No organizations reported activities in CCCM, Non-Food Items, Private Sector Development, Responsible Tourism or Shelter sectors.

Myanmar: Myanmar: Kayah State - All Projects Under Implementation (Village Tract Level) - February 18, 2016

9 May 2016 - 5:02am
Source: Myanmar Information Management Unit Country: Myanmar

Note: This map represents information as reported by organisations contributing to the MIMU 3W. Inclusion of an organisation on this map does not imply endorsement by the United Nations or its projects. Note that this map shows presence of an organisation and does not indicate the volume of assistance, the number of beneficiaries, or the extent to which needs are met or unmet.

Overview of the March 2016 3W - Kayah, state

Myanmar: Overview of the March 2016 3W - Kayah, state

9 May 2016 - 4:56am
Source: European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office, Government of Canada, Myanmar Information Management Unit Country: Myanmar

The MIMU 3W gathers inputs from participating agencies on Who is doing What, Where, across Myanmar. It is currently conducted every 6 months.

218 agencies participated in the Mar 2016 3W, providing information on their countrywide activities in 22 sectors and 158 sub-sectors which have been defined by technical/sector working groups. There is still likely to be under-reporting of the specific activities of field-based local NGOs and CBOs.

The tables and charts refer to projects under implementation as of February 18, 2016. Information on planned and recently completed projects is included in the 3W dataset which is available on the MIMU website, as well as in the MIMU 3W Dashboard http://www.themimu.info/3w-dashboard which shows agencies' activities to Township level.

1. Active Organizations in Kayah

A total of 54 organizations reported projects under implementation in Kayah. The majority are NGOs with 10 border-based organizations. Some level of agency activity has been reported in all village tracts, with agencies most concentrated in Loikaw, Demoso and Hpruso townships.

2. Projects by Sector

88 projects were reported in 17 sectors (11% of the total projects reported to the 3W). In terms of the frequency of project interventions:

Health is the most widespread intervention with 18 organizations reportedly implementing 29 projects in 557 villages across 74 village tracts (100 % of the total village tracts in Kayah). There is some level of health activity in all 7 townships, though more concentrated in the townships of Loikaw (14 agencies), Demoso (13 agencies) and Hpruso (11 agencies). The majority of health interventions are Maternal and Child Health (531 villages), Malaria Programme (343 villages) and Basic Health Care (130 villages).

Protection is the second most widespread intervention with 14 organizations reportedly implementing 17 projects in 328 villages across 68 village tracts (92% of the total in Kayah), mainly focus on the activity of Civil Documentation (280 villages) and Child Protection (130 villages). Protection activities are found in all 7 townships but most concentrated in Loikaw (11 agencies) and Demoso (7 agencies).

Governance is the third main sector with 10 agencies reporting activities in 56 villages in 29 village tracts, most frequently in Strengthening Civil Society (32 villages) followed by a focus on Human Rights and Advocacy (22 villages). Governance activities are found in all 7 townships but most concentrated in Loikaw (6 agencies) and Demoso (4 agencies).

Education is the fourth main sector of agency activities in Kayah with 11 organizations active in 196 villages, most frequently in support to ECD (108 villages) and Quality Basic Education/Formal Education (103 villages). Education activities are also found in all 7 townships but most concentrated in Demoso (7 agencies), Loikaw (6 agencies) and Hpruso (5 agencies).

Agriculture is the fifth main sector with 8 agencies reporting activities in 30 village tracts in 6 of total 7 townships, mostly in Agricultural Extension (31 villages), followed by Livestock and poultry (11 villages). One or two organizations are implementing agriculture activities in Kayah State except Mese Township.

Livelihoods is the sixth main sector with 8 agencies reporting activities in 43 villages, most frequently in Income Generation Support (26 villages) and Vocational Education and Training (17 villages). The activities are found in all 7 townships but most concentrated in Loikaw (5 agencies) and Demoso (3 agencies).

Peace Building/ Conflict Prevention is the seventh main sector, with 7 projects reported by 6 agencies as under implementation in 103 villages across 74 village tracts (100 % of the total in Kayah), most frequently focused on Support for durable solutions for returnees (81 villages) and Conflict transformation and Peacebuilding (22 villages).

Mine Action is the eighth main sector with activities reported by 5 agencies in 163 villages across 60 village tracts (81 % of the total in Kayah), mostly in Mine-Risk Education (155 villages). Similarly, Mine Action activities are also found in all 7 townships but most concentrated in Loikaw (5 agenceis) and Demoso and Hpruso (4 agencies in each).

• There is far less activity reported to other sectors; Infrastructure (3 agencies, 31 villages), Private Sector Development (3 agencies, 7 villages/wards), Food (3 agencies, 5 village Tracts/Towns), Nutrition (2 agencies, 43 villages), Environment (2 agencies and 7 village tracts/towns), CCCM (2 agencies, 4 Village Tracts/Towns), Social Protection (2 agencies, 3 Townships), WASH (1 agency, 43 villages) and Non-Food Items (1 agency, 26 villages).

• No organizations reported activities in Coordination, Disaster Risk Reduction, Responsible Tourism or Shelter sectors.

Myanmar: The United Nations in Myanmar (4 May 2016)

9 May 2016 - 4:02am
Source: Myanmar Information Management Unit Country: Myanmar

Myanmar: We Want Genuine Peace: Voices of communities from Myanmar’s ceasefire areas in 2015 [EN/MY]

9 May 2016 - 2:09am
Source: Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies Country: Myanmar

Author: Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies (CPCS)
Published by: CPCS
Publication date: February 2016
ISBN: 13: 978 999 63 85636

Based on 772 conversations carried out between November 2014 and March 2015 with 1,072 people living in six states which have ceasefires, We Want Genuine Peace presents community opinions about their direct experiences of living in conflict situations, their needs, challenges, as well as hopes for the future, all within the framework of the Myanmar peace process. Using CPCS Listening Methodology, people familiar with local contexts, cultures, and who spoke the same language (called listeners) were asked to travel to hard-to-reach communities in Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Northern Shan, Southern Shan, and Mon states to converse with a cross-section of residents.

This publication is divided into nine chapters:

Chapter 1 contains the introduction as well as the summary of all findings, both the main findings across all the states and the main findings from each state. This chapter also contains CPCS recommendations to key stakeholders based on an analysis of the findings. Chapter 2 explains what listening methodology is and how it was used to obtain the results. Chapter 3 covers the evolution of Listening Methodology as it has been applied by CPCS in peace research. Chapters 4 to 9 contain more in-depth discussions of the main themes in each of the six areas covered by the research.

Lastly, the Annex contains various tables, including the overall main themes, the uncategorized main themes from each state and a summary of the answers to guide questions in each state.