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Cyclone-affected fishermen still need help

Thousands of families in Myanmar's cyclone-affected Ayeyarwady Delta depend on fishing as their own source of livelihood
Thousands of families in Myanmar's cyclone-affected Ayeyarwady Delta depend on fishing as their own source of livelihood (Contributor/IRIN)

Before the devastation of Cyclone Nargis in May 2008, Cho Tuu, 30, never found it hard to make ends meet, but these days he struggles to feed his family.

 

Without any fishing equipment, Cho Tuu is forced to pay the equivalent of US$15 per month to hire a boat, and to hand over three-quarters of his catch to the owner of the fishing net that he rents.

 

"Some months, I can barely make enough money to even pay for hiring the boat," said the father of two school-age children from his makeshift hut in Thandait village in the Ayeyarwady Delta, the area worst hit by Nargis.

 

Though Cho Tuu has been expecting fishing equipment from humanitarian agencies for more than 17 months, no assistance has come yet.

 

Like Cho Tuu, officials say thousands of fishermen are still unable to restore their livelihoods because of a lack of aid following Cyclone Nargis, which left nearly 140,000 people dead or missing, and 2.4 million affected.

 

After paddy planting, fishing is the second largest source of income for households in the Ayeyarwady Delta, a labyrinth of rivers, ponds and waterways.

 

For 20 percent of Nargis-affected households, full-time fishing is the primary source of income, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Myanmar.

 

















In the wake of Cyclone Nargis, thousands of fisherman have been unable to restore their livelihoods because of lack of assistance

Lynn Maung/IRIN
In the wake of Cyclone Nargis, thousands of fisherman have been unable to restore their livelihoods because of lack of assistance
http://www.irinnews.org/photo.aspx
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Cyclone-affected fishermen still need help
In the wake of Cyclone Nargis, thousands of fisherman have been unable to restore their livelihoods because of lack of assistance


Photo: Lynn Maung/IRIN
Up to 100,000 or 50 percent of small inland fishing boats and 70 percent of fishing gear were destroyed by Nargis


Tesfai Ghermazien, the FAO’s senior emergency and rehabilitation coordinator in Myanmar, said it would take 3-5 years to fully restore the livelihoods of cyclone-affected fishermen.

 

"Very few [fishermen], if any, are back to normal," Ghermazien told IRIN.

 

Although the main sources of livelihood in the Delta are farming, fish and livestock, these sub-sectors were the least funded in the Cyclone Nargis response, he said.



According to the FAO, 1,550 marine fishing vessels, 50 percent of small inland fishing boats (i.e. about 100,000 out of 200,000), and 70 percent of fishing gear were destroyed by Nargis.



ASEAN review

 

A review of recovery efforts by the Myanmar government, the UN, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) released in July this year found that livelihoods remain insecure in the worst-affected townships of  Ayeyarwady and Yangon divisions.

 

It said that the townships of Bogale, Labutta, Mawlamyinegyun and Pyapon in the delta’s south - where fishing is the predominant income source - had experienced the highest percentage of losses of fishing gear.

 

However, on average, only 6 percent of surveyed households in these four townships reported receiving fishing gear as a relief item. Only 11 percent of the surveyed households reported receiving boats, although 33 percent of them said they considered a boat as a pressing need to restore their livelihood activity, said the review.

 

A third Post-Nargis Periodic Review is expected at the end of 2009.

 

Equipment lacking

 

In an effort to help cyclone-affected fishermen restore their livelihoods, FAO and its cooperating agencies have distributed about 5,000 boats, and some 130,000 sets of different types of fishing gear, mainly nets and traps.

 

The Department of Fisheries has also distributed over 10,000 boats with nets and gear.

 










Some of the boats provided to fishermen outside Labutta as part of the government's relief and recovery effort. Of the 9,000 to built, four months on it remains unclear how many have been delivered.

Contributor/IRIN
Some of the boats provided to fishermen outside Labutta as part of the government's relief and recovery effort. Of the 9,000 to built, four months on it remains unclear how many have been delivered...
http://www.irinnews.org/photo
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Cyclone-affected fishermen still need help
Some of the boats provided to fishermen outside Labutta as part of the government's relief and recovery effort. Of the 9,000 to built, four months on it remains unclear how many have been delivered...


Photo: Contributor/IRIN
Some of the boats provided to fishermen outside Labutta as part of the government's recovery effort

Before the end of the year, FAO plans to hand over 200 boats which are expected to have a longer life than most common boats now being built. It will also distribute a few thousand boats next year.

 

In the meantime, though, most cyclone-affected fishermen complain that they still do not have enough equipment.

 

"There are 154 fishermen in our fishing village, most of whom lost their fishing gear in the cyclone," said Aung Myo, the head of Thandait Village. "But, so far we just got 14 fishing boats and gear."

 

Besides being forced to hire equipment or take out loans to buy gear, fishermen have complained of the burden of paying for boats distributed by the government, said Aung Myo.

 

He said the cost of the fishing boat and gear - nearly the equivalent of US$360 - had to be paid back in four installments.

 

Other complaints include those about the equipment distributed. Some say the nets they received were inappropriate - those who fish in rivers were given nets for sea fishing, and vice-versa. Some boats distributed have also been found wanting.

 

“The fishing boat I received was quite small,” said Tint Swe, 42, who received a fishing boat from the Department of Fisheries on an installation system.

 

Tint Swe, who lost two motorized boats during Nargis, said he had been forced to spend additional money to modify the boat to his requirements.

 

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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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