Heavy rains are falling at the moment in Burma. Within the last couple of days the average total rainfall for the month of May has been surpassed in the affected areas. The rains have been so hard that people are left bruised by the rain storms.
Forced and spontaneous relocations continue to be reported – however it does seem that some people welcome the evacuation to dryer areas where relief services can be provided more easily. However, camp conditions are very poor. Camps are overcrowded, lack clean water and have no sanitation facilities. The movements of large numbers of people are also making assessments obsolete within a few days, further complicating response efforts.
According to FAO, there is still a small window to get the rice crop in the ground. The affected areas produce 60 to 75 percent of the country’s rice. If people are unable to plant they will not see another harvest until late 2009.
Water access is emerging as one of the most critical issues. Ponds are filled with bodies and unusable, while wells have become too saline for human consumption. Rainwater harvesting could help, but has not always been successful in the past – and relies on plastic sheeting and storage containers. Unfortunately there is a serious lack of plastic sheeting and buckets in the country.
CHF is continuing to provide support through the international shelter cluster, as well as in the areas of water/sanitation, and health, coordinating activities and leveraging experience from other disaster areas for effective and appropriate shelter solutions. The needs on the ground in Myanmar, it is clear, will continue long after global attention to this crisis has faded. We are grateful for the commitment being shown by those who continue to support efforts such as these.