Income-generating livestock distribution enables rural families to recover after devastating floods

Income-generating livestock distribution enables rural families to recover after devastating floods

10/03/2016

Like so many communities in rural Myanmar, the 114 families in Tha Koar village depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. The village is in central Rakhine state, one of the six states or regions worst affected by the floods that swept through Myanmar between July and October 2015.

In this village alone, nearly one-third of the houses were destroyed in the floods, 45 buffalo and cows were killed and 90 percent of the paddy crop was wiped out. The paddy was replanted after the disaster, but by then it was late in the season and the ground was covered in mud, so the staple crop will be smaller than hoped. Many stored seeds were damaged in the floods and farmers now lack draught power because so many animals were lost. As a result, families also fear their winter vegetable crop might be reduced by two-thirds, compared to a normal year.

Six months after the floods, nearly one-fifth of the community's farmland can still not be cultivated because it is covered with logs left by the floodwaters. Farmers have been steadily cutting up the logs by hand for use as firewood, but progress is slow. The village's drinking water supply was also damaged. Before the floods, FAO had given either chickens, goats or pigs to a total of 50 vulnerable households in the village, thanks to the generous support of the French Government under a year-long project to improve food security and livelihoods for conflict-affected communities.

However, the pigs and goats were lost in the floods and only a few chickens survived. In response, with the on-going support of the French Government, FAO returned to Tha Koar village after the floods to again provide 32 affected households with five chickens each. Village chairman Maung Phyu Chay, 36, said the chickens would help poorer families with income generation.

"We were very happy to receive the replacement chickens for flood-affected farmers," he said. "We are grateful to FAO and to the French Government." Daw Mah Taung Sein, 60, lives with her two daughters, aged 39 and 42 years, and her two-year-old grandson. She received five chickens from FAO, with the support of the French Government, after the floods. "We have two acres (0.8 hectares), for paddy rice production but more than half of that was destroyed in the floods and now can't be used because it's covered in soil and rocks," she said.

"The floods caused problems for food security. For the first couple of weeks after the floods, we were only eating half the normal amount of food."Daw Taung Sein described her plans for generating income from the chickens funded by the French Government. "I will take care of the chickens and rear them for income generation," she said."First I will try to breed more chickens and then I will sell them in the local market. I could get 10 000 kyat (around USD 7.70) for a large chicken.

"From the money I receive for the FAO chickens and other chickens I breed from them, I could purchase enough paddy seed to replant my two acres (0.8 hectares) during next year's monsoon season.That would produce enough rice to feed my household for six months."