1. Home
  2. Asia
  3. Myanmar

Nargis survivors still waiting for shelter

Bibi San, 33, outside her recently rebuilt, but smaller home in the village of Talaoat Htaw in Twanty Township, around 80 southwest of Yangon. More than one year on, shelter remains a key issue for survivors
(Contributor/IRIN)

Shelter is still one of the most pivotal issues to affect survivors of Cyclone Nargis today, the UN says.

 

The UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) estimates that more than 450,000 people are in dire need of shelter assistance across southern Myanmar, almost 15 months after the worst natural disaster to strike the southeast Asian nation.

 

"Up to 130,000 families remain exposed and are suffering under severe weather conditions due to a lack of sustainable shelter," Bishow Parajuli, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, confirmed.

 

More than 700,000 homes were destroyed or damaged, creating what could easily be described as the greatest shelter needs at any one time since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

 

Although emergency shelter relief efforts were well funded - reaching around 95 percent of those affected - early recovery or transitional shelter needs have been sidelined.

 

An amount of US$150 million was requested for shelter repair and reconstruction under the Post Nargis Recovery Plan (PONREPP) - a three-year recovery strategy running to 2011 - but only US$50 million has been received.

 

Of the 360,000 homes the government estimates were destroyed outright, the international community and its partners have rebuilt just 24,000, while the government, largely through the private sector in designated areas of the Ayeyarwady Delta, has built another 10,000.

 

"This is horrifically low," David Evans, UN-HABITAT acting country director, told IRIN, describing the international response to date as less than 7 percent of the actual needs.

 

"I would expect this to be around 40 to 50 percent at this point," Evans said, estimating the cost of an individual home at about $700. 

  










Of Of Kan Seik's 193 homes, 192 were destroyed by Nargis, leaving residents such as 35-year-old Daw Thin Thin Kyi and her three children no choice but to rebuild with whatever they could find around them

Contributor/IRIN
Of Of Kan Seik's 193 homes, 192 were destroyed by Nargis, leaving residents such as 35-year-old Daw Thin Thin Kyi and her three children no choice but to rebuild with whatever they could find around them...
http://www.irinnews.org/photo.aspx
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Shelter issues and land rights frustrate resettlement
Of Of Kan Seik's 193 homes, 192 were destroyed by Nargis, leaving residents such as 35-year-old Daw Thin Thin Kyi and her three children no choice but to rebuild with whatever they could find around them...


Photo: Contributor/IRIN
Daw Thin Thin Kyi and her three children outside their home in Kan Seik, Dedaye Township. Thousands of cyclone survivors like her rebuilt their own homes without any international assistance

Building initiative

 

About 209,000 families have rebuilt their own homes alone over the past year, UN-HABITAT estimates - largely through informal means.

 

In the tiny village of Kan Seik, a seaside community in Myanmar's badly affected Dedaye Township, dozens of ramshackle homes have been hastily rebuilt from the storm's debris.

 

Most are flimsy and it is only a matter of time before the winds take them again.

 

Of Kan Seik's 193 homes, 192 were destroyed by Nargis, leaving residents such as 35-year-old Daw Thin Thin Kyi and her three children no choice but to rebuild with whatever they could find around them.

 

While on the surface, life in the Twanty Township, just 80km southwest of Yangon, appears to have returned to normal, life at the village level has yet to recover.

 

About half the homes in the 220 villages that comprise Twanty were destroyed or badly affected.

 

And while typically a family of five would have lived in an area of 10 sqm before Nargis, many today live in less than half that.

 

"Most people were unable to rebuild to pre-Nargis levels," Ne Myo, a programme officer for CARE International, said, citing the inevitable financial constraints of rebuilding for this largely landless population.



"There is no work here," said 33-year-old Bibi San, outside her home in Talaot Htaw, a village of just 1,600. Her husband earns barely $1 a day as a casual labourer.

 

While happy to have put a roof back over her head, she laments the arrival of this year's monsoon rains as well as her rising debt burden. "When it rains, the water pours in. Sometimes the children get ill," the mother of two said.

 

But Bibi San could also be described as lucky. As part of the self-recovery group - accounting for almost 60 percent of all destroyed homes - at least she is not one of the 450,000 cyclone survivors still unassisted.

 

"If they could have helped themselves, they would have been part of the self-recovery group, rather than live in the atrocious conditions they live in now," Evans said of this group, some of whom are living with nothing more than a piece of plastic over their heads almost 15 months after the disaster.

 

"Unfortunately, we know we're not going to get to them and the agencies have no funding," Evans said, noting that it would take a minimum of $50 million to assist them.

 

More than 140,000 people were killed and another 2.4 million affected by Cyclone Nargis, which swept across southern Myanmar and the Ayeyarwady Delta in May 2008.

 

contributor/ds/mw

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

Share this article
Join the discussion

Hundreds of thousands of readers trust The New Humanitarian each month for quality journalism that contributes to more effective, accountable, and inclusive ways to improve the lives of people affected by crises.

Our award-winning stories inform policymakers and humanitarians, demand accountability and transparency from those meant to help people in need, and provide a platform for conversation and discussion with and among affected and marginalised people.

We’re able to continue doing this thanks to the support of our donors and readers like you who believe in the power of independent journalism. These contributions help keep our journalism free and accessible to all.

Show your support as we build the future of news media by becoming a member of The New Humanitarian. 

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.

Join