ADRA responds to Myanmar floods

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Wahroonga, New South Wales

Severe flooding in Myanmar following Cyclone Komen has affected 1.1 million people across 12 of the country’s 14 states. 

While the tragedy has not been covered extensively by the media, ADRA has already provided a swift response. In the coming days and weeks ADRA will continue its emergency response to assist more people in urgent need.

Adventist News Network reports that 32 Adventist churches were damaged. In response, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) immediately deployed resources to help the survivors.  

Despite facing logistical challenges, ADRA staff in Myanmar have distributed food packages to 400 families. ADRA staff are on the ground in Kale, one of the most affected regions. Based on their initial assessment, some of the most urgent needs included providing food, clean water and removing mud and debris.

More than 100 people have died following the cyclone, with that number predicted to rise as floodwaters continue to cause damage. More than 240,000 households have been or remain temporarily displaced by the disaster. 

The flooding was caused by extra heavy monsoonal rains that arrived when Cyclone Komen moved across southern Asia late last month.  

ADRA Australia’s Humanitarian Program officer Beryl Hartmann said it highlights Myanmar’s vulnerability to disasters. “The monsoonal rains that have swept across Myanmar have devastated the country,” she said. 

“This disaster is affecting hundreds of thousands of people—often the most vulnerable who can least afford it. 

“While the tragedy has not been covered extensively by the media, ADRA has already provided a swift response.  

“In the coming days and weeks ADRA will continue its emergency response to assist more people in urgent need.”

The floods have hit locals hard. “I have lost food, I have lost income,” said Poe, a rice farmer whose fields were swamped. “My seeds were destroyed [and] I am left with little money. I don’t have money even to hire labourers to help with the recovery of my fields.”

While the floodwaters have subsided in some areas, so much mud has been dumped that many people fear they will never be able to return to their villages. Entire houses are almost completely buried in mud; others are lying toppled over on their side. 

By rigging up a flying fox system, ADRA staff and volunteers carried 8.5 tonnes of rice and about four tonnes of beans, oil, salt, potatoes and onions across a flooded river to distribute to people in need.