The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) granted UN-HABITAT a total of $499,904 to assist victims of the cyclone Giri disaster in Myanmar. The Government of Norway did the same. They allocated $1,000,450 for the Rakhine Settlements Support Programme that aims to improve vulnerable Cyclone Giri affected communities with community-driven shelter recovery, supporting the objectives of the Post-Giri Recovery Strategy and Action Plan for Shelter Sector.
After the Cyclone Giri, that affected western part of the Myanmar on October 22, 2010, assistance arrived in the record time, but it covered only the basic needs of the people in the disaster area. The victims of Cyclone Giri remain an extremely needy and vulnerable population, and further urgent aid is needed to assist in sheltering thousands of people that became homeless after the cyclone.
According to the Post-Giri Consolidated Action Plan prepared by the UN and NGOs working in affected townships, at least $57 million are necessary for the realization and implementation of reconstruction projects and programs in Myanmar. Until now however, less than half of the needed funds have been obtained. Some of the most urgent needs are providing adequate shelter for the displaced population.
It costs $13 million to provide basic, temporary housing for the 20,000 families left homeless in the cyclone. There are also many families seeking refuge with their relatives in overcrowded and unsustainable conditions. In addition to those families in need of housing, there are approximately 30,000 families whose homes have been damaged and are in need of repairs, which they have often been unable to undertake due to a lack of funds and materials needed for rebuilding. It should be noted that for $600, one family shelter can be provided in Myanmar and if housing for the 100,000 homeless people is not going to be provided soon, a new humanitarian disaster will occur when the monsoon season begins.
Before the disaster caused by the Cyclone Giri, Myanmar was already suffering from a humanitarian crisis caused by the Cyclone Nargis inMay, 2008. An estimated 140,000 people died and 2.4 million are affected by loss of land, livelihood, shelter, or injuries. Approximately 800,000 homes were destroyed by Cyclone Nargis alone. Out of the $690 million required for the full three year medium term recovery plan, only a third of the necessary resources for reconstruction have been acquired. A severe magnitude 6.8 earthquake that stroked last week a sparsely populated mountain area in the Golden Triangle region of northeastern Myanmar caused a new humanitarian emergency.
Despite generous contributions by donors and ongoing government support for emergency relief in the aftermath of last October’s Cyclone Giri, a significant gap in funding threatens to compromise early and medium-term recovery in the affected areas. Given Myanmar’s vulnerability to cyclones and natural disasters, its years of unresolved humanitarian crises, and extreme poverty with the lowest level of official international development aid, it is essential that the international community keeps supporting recovery and reconstruction activities through projects and programs which have been up to date significantly underfunded.