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Myanmar Post-Nargis Recovery and Preparedness Plan Prioritized Action Plan
In May 2008, Myanmar faced its most devastating natural disaster on record when Cyclone Nargis struck the Ayeyarwady Delta. The 200 km/hr winds, heavy rains and 12-foot storm surge caused shattering losses. More than 140 000 people died and 95 percent of homes in the Delta were destroyed.
The storm displaced 800 000 people and severely affected 2.4 million. Although damage was widespread across all sectors, agriculture was hardest hit. Nargis caused unprecedented damage to the country’s main agricultural production area – known as Myanmar’s rice granary and one of the most diversified fishing regions in the world. Fields were submerged and productive assets lost when farmers were at the final stages of harvesting their paddy and just prior to the main monsoon planting season. Food and seed stocks were destroyed, as were vital sources of food and income for landless families, such as fishing, livestock production, forestry resources, backyard gardening, as well as on-farm labour.
These losses were suffered by a great portion of the country’s most vulnerable families. The Delta has the highest concentration of poor households engaged in agriculture and up to 89 percent of the population depends on the sector for its livelihood. Despite the substantial efforts made to-date, far too many families have not received the support they need to recover.
Agriculture remained one of the least funded sectors throughout the Nargis response, from the Myanmar Tropical Cyclone Nargis Flash Appeal of 9 May 2008 and its revision on 10 July 2009, to the needs underscored in the Post-Nargis Recovery and Preparedness Plan (PONREPP), a three-year strategy framework endorsed by the Tripartite Core Group (TCG) in December 2008.
In response to the gaps and outstanding critical needs impeding recovery in the Delta, the TCG further elaborated a Prioritized Action Plan within the framework of the PONREPP. The Plan, based on the findings of the July 2009 Post-Nargis Periodic Review II, identifies priority actions to be undertaken through to July 2010 in the sectors of Education, Health, Livelihoods, Shelter, and Water Sanitation and Hygiene, with funding requirements of USD 103.56 million.
Challenges facing livelihoods
The lack of agricultural inputs remains a key impediment to food security and livelihood recovery in the Delta. If critical recovery needs remain unaddressed, families will become increasingly vulnerable and hard-won gains may be lost. According to the Post-Nargis Periodic Review II, only 7 percent of affected households (out of 2 931 surveyed in May 2009) had received fisheries, crops or livestock inputs. The survey further revealed the following key findings:
- Nearly one-third of households continue to consider crop items or inputs as a pressing need.
- The monsoon paddy planted was 13 percent less than Pre-Nargis levels due to lack of seeds, fertilizer and land preparation inputs.
- Eight percent reported pigs or poultry as a critical need.
- Over 30 percent noted fishing gear/ boats among most pressing needs.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) set up an Emergency and Rehabilitation Coordination Unit in Yangon immediately following the cyclone. Even with critical funding shortages, FAO successfully built technical capacity, delivered inputs and provided coordination support as the lead of the Agriculture Cluster, then as the chair (with Pact as co-chair) of the Delta Livelihood Recovery Working Group to coordinate the livelihood response to Cyclone Nargis. In collaboration with the World Food Programme, FAO is also co-chairing the country-wide Thematic Group on Food Security and Agriculture. FAO, together with Pact, led the formulation of the Livelihoods component of the PONREPP Prioritized Action Plan, for which funding needs amount to USD 40 million. Of this total, FAO seeks an estimated USD 20.5 million for immediate support to activities under the livelihood outcomes 1-4 to:
- provide critical inputs and promote technology transfer in time for the 2010 monsoon planting season;
- build better boats and replace fishing gear essential to Delta livelihoods;
- provide veterinary training, support mobile animal health clinics and restore the livestock population; and
- continue coordination support through livelihoods response mapping and improving synergies among partners to avoid duplication of efforts and ensure cost-effective assistance.