Five months after Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar (Burma), people in the impoverished country are still struggling to rebuild their lives. Nargis, a category 4 storm, tore down trees and buildings, destroyed crops and livestock and cut power and communications in the Ayeyarwady Delta region, home to nearly half of the country's population.
At least 77,000 people were killed by the cyclone and 56,000 are still missing. Four thousand schools were flattened or damaged, impacting 500,000 children. Overall, children account for 40% of the hardest hit population and are most likely to die in disease outbreaks.
At this point, an estimated 80 to 90 percent of the total households in the affected area are living in improvised shelter. The rains that have accompanied the monsoon season have intensified the conditions of overcrowding, inappropriate sanitation and scarcity of potable water facing the internally displaced people in Myanmar. There is an ongoing need for food, medical aid and shelter.
ERD is partnering with the Church of the Province of Myanmar (CPM) to provide immediate and long-term relief. Staff from ERD have just returned from a monitoring trip to Myanmar where they observed first-hand the incredible needs in the country and the heroic efforts of CPM to meet these needs.
CPM has conducted eight field visits into the hard-to-reach epicenter of storm damage with relief teams consisting of health workers, pastoral support, logisticians and laborers to clear debris and repair damaged water sources and infrastructure. CPM is providing families with food, water purification kits, sheltering material and household kits that include mosquito nets, blankets and towels, water storage containers, cooking pots and other essentials for daily living.
In the coming months, CPM will launch the rehabilitation phase of recovery, focusing on restoring livelihoods, rebuilding homes and infrastructure and supporting children orphaned by the storm. As more than half a million acres of rice paddy, 38,000 fish and shrimp ponds and 152,000 acres of forest were destroyed, the need for agricultural recovery is extreme.
"CPM's mobilization efforts to reach those most impacted by the cyclone have been incredible," says Nagulan Nesiah, program associate for Asia at ERD. "We look forward to supporting them through the long-term rebuilding phase of the recovery process."
To make a contribution to help people impacted by Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, donate to ERD's "Myanmar & Cyclone Response Fund" online here (http://www.er-d.org), or by calling 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to: Episcopal Relief & Development, "Myanmar & Cyclone Response Fund" PO Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.