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Burma Cyclone Nargis Response

October 30, 2008

By pwrdf

PWRDF received a total designated donation of $242,206 from the Anglicans in Canada. We’ve already contributed $210,000 to the ACT Appeal. PWRDF has also received a proposal from the Anglican Church in Burma, with whom the Partnerships Department and the ERD (US) has long-standing relationship. Also, there is a companion relationship between the Diocese of British Columbia and the Church of the Province of Myanmar (Anglican). PWRDF is in touch with the ERD and the Partnerships to discuss and decide on our possible contribution to the project (on Cyclone Nargis response) of the Anglican Church of Burma.

Due to the Canadian Government’s economic sanction on Burma (Myanmar)’s military junta, only select Canadian NGOs have Permit Authorization Order for the provision of humanitarian relief in light of Cyclone Nargis. PWRDF is on that list. PWRDF has facilitated to send $170,000 of PWS&D funds and $20,000 of the UCC funds to ACT. Both of these Canadian church partners were out of the Government of Canada’s initial list of eligible agencies, and rather than applying for the permit, they opted to collaborate with PWRDF.

CIDA provided $300,000 to Canadian Churches in Action (CCA) to restore the food security of cyclone-affected farm households; to re-establish household incomes of the cyclone-affected farm households; and to refurbish rice production.
Church World Service Update #2
Cyclone Nargis Relief and Recovery
October 20-26, 2008 (PDF Version of this Update)
Farming in Affected Areas
The farmers of Ayeyarwaddy Delta plant different varieties of paddy seeds during rainy and dry season. In the lowlands area there are “flooded fields” following the rainy season, which requires special variety of paddy seeds and deep water farming method to grow paddy. If otherwise, shallow water farming method are used during both rainy and dry seasons and standard variety of paddy seeds are planted.
During rainy season, the farmers need lesser inputs than dry season and the usual rice harvest per acre of land ranges from 40-50 baskets. During dry season, the harvest per acre of land ranges from 60-100 baskets. Normally fertilizers are used in both season and both planting methods according to needs.
The disaster-affected farmers still need strong support in farming inputs such as paddy seeds, diesel fuel, fertilizers as well as power tillers, especially with the current dry season planting schedule. With regards to shifting means of agriculture, the power tillers proved to be very efficient and effective in helping the farmers to work on their land and yield harvest according to regular harvest season and thus strengthening food security for the whole country.
Myanmar Planting Season
During dry season the farmers of Myanmar start planting in early November and harvest the yield in March. During rainy season they start planting around mid May until around end of July and harvest the yield in mid October.
Effect of Nargis on Food Security
The Cyclone Nargis has nearly destroyed the highly populous area of Ayeyarwaddy Delta and southern Yangon. Based on the direct field monitoring, the near-total destruction in those areas has taken all the capitals needed for the disaster-affected people to revive their livelihoods. As a result, since May 2008 the food security level of the disaster-affected people has been badly decreasing since they were not able to conduct stable food production that would ensure availability of nutritionally adequate food. Being the key area for rice production, destruction of seed reserve for the next planting season in Ayeyarwaddy division has further threatened future food security of the whole country.
The assistance provided by CWS in agricultural sector through provision of cash, seeds and power tillers has quickly revived the principle livelihoods of the affected people and assured the food security of Myanmar. However, post-disaster phase sees that further assistance is crucial to rebuild the livelihood and bring life to normal condition.
Field Activity Management
Ensuring the maximum use of distributed power tillers through an organized farmers group is essential for project sustainability, transparency and accountability. In most villages whose farmers received power tillers, CWS partner formed village committee that will oversee and regulate the use of the power tillers among farmer members. In addition, the partner also conducted public announcement through flyers, banners and community meetings to assure transparency.  
CWS partner also used similar approach during rice and cash distribution to the disaster-affected people. There was a committee who announced the distribution process through flyers to assure proper targeting and enable correction among the targeted beneficiaries prior to actual distribution the next day. With regards to technical logistic matters, the partner does apply fair bidding from local rice suppliers and quality control check.
On the other hand, strengthening ongoing participatory practices of the partner in implementing field activities would be the best option to program sustainability and enhanced sense of belonging among program beneficiaries.
Our Best Practices 
Participatory project management
CWS partner organized project management committees and ensured representation from at least one representative from each village. The committee was consulted in the planning and management of project activities, for instance distribution process. Before a distribution, a list of beneficiaries entitled was announced in a public place. Necessary corrections for the list were made according to feedback from the community. Community meetings were conducted in most villages and the staffs actively listen to voices of beneficiaries.
Decentralized management
CWS partner worked closely with each other and always brainstormed for the best solution to project activities at township levels, while putting voices from the community at the forefront.
Downward accountability
CWS partner announced publicly the criteria and entitlements of beneficiaries through public meetings, banners and fliers. During the distribution process of rice bags, the beneficiaries were encouraged to check the quality of rice. Should any significant difference was found; the beneficiaries had the rights to discuss with CWS partner to arrange for replacement.
Challenges
CWS partner has done a great work in applying participatory approach during emergency response with the local community. However, the majority of beneficiaries were not aware of the presence of village committee.
Gender issues
Although all of the village committee members were all males and head of a households who were nominated as recipients for the distribution of relief items were mostly males, any family members was allowed to attend and receive the relief items during distribution process. CWS observed that equal numbers of male and female were present during distribution process.
 “Turn on the radio”
CWS observed that farmers who have simple radio would turn on their radio for weather updates. Meanwhile, the general population also becomes more sensitive to weather updates on the news.
For a Better Tomorrow
A 40 years old farmer lives in a village in Dedaye township, around three hours drive west of Yangon with another 50 farmer household. They lead a simple but content life before the wrath of Nargis seized everything. Around 75% of the houses were collapsed, while the flood and salty rains destroyed almost all of their food stocks and seeds reserve. The losses set them into depression and discouraged them from cultivating their land this year. A few short weeks following the cyclone, they managed to build a simple shelter and fed on rotten rice. Many villages in Dedaye were left to endure on their own for a week weeks after May 2008, until CWS partner arrived and brought along the hope of harvest this year.
Community meetings with village leaders and authorities were held to assess top list priorities of the village. CWS partner provided assistance in seeds, fertilizers and capital for harvest; while power tillers was available on request to a nearby village with a cost of only one-third from regular rent. 
Our farmer in Dedaye would be ready to harvest his farm in a few weeks from now. He believed his land would give him normal yield this year and thanked CWS partner for their valuable assistance. After the harvest, he would prepare seeds, food and cash for the next season once his crops are sold in the market. In a few years from now, he is looking forward to rebuild a proper house for his family. If it had not been for the prompt relief, he did not dare to estimate the consequences. 
“I wish that you are blessed.”
A woman in mid 30s earns her life as a day laborer and lives in a village somewhere in Phyapone township with her family. She called herself as lucky to survive the deadly Nargis. 

She recalled that night the wind grew increasingly stronger in the rice fields near a tributary where she lived. Her family huddled together when she felt wetness around the house as water seeped through the bamboo floor. The next thing she knew, a big wave washed away her house, along with her younger brother and sister. Only not to be seen again. The night was pitch dark as she managed to climb on a high tree where she held on throughout the night under very cold downpour and strong wind. The next morning, she found herself sitting atop a 20 feet tree about five miles away from her place, around half a dozen of corpses. Although she managed to see some of her family members, the cyclone left them with only some coconuts to eat and drink for the following days. 

CWS partner came within two weeks after the cyclone with shelter and basic needs such as kitchen utensils, food, water, and hygiene kits as well as other organization who provided health services.
As a day laborer who is usually hired by farmers, it was difficult for her to find work since the farmers were struggling with the aftermath of Nargis themselves. Having had rotten rice for a few weeks, she could not express her happiness enough when CWS partner reached her village with good quality rice. “I wish that you are blessed,” she uttered as we parted. 
Facts and Figures
116,862
landless household each received 50 kg of rice to provide quick support to their life. In addition, 58,383 farm households received 10,387 rice seeds, 15,000 Kyats in cash for each farm households, 740 tillers, 27,564 gallons of Diesel and 4,126 MT of fertilizers. The Cyclone Nargis Relief and Recovery reached 1,197 villages in 11 townships in Ayeyarwaddy Delta.
This figure is last updated on October 16, 2008 
CWS/ACT and USAID take part in this initiative along with various organizations to provide support to the Cyclone Nargis-affected people.
 

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