Victims of cyclone Giri regain livelihoods

monsoon paddy
In Myanmar, monsoon paddy cultivation is vulnerable to natural disasters such as cyclones. The EU-UNDP partnership support farmers affected by cyclones to regain their livelihoods.

Myanmar is vulnerable to natural disasters and humanitarian crises. On Oct. 22, 2010, in the western coastal state of Rakhine, Cyclone Giri left 45 people dead and affected some 260,000.

"The cyclone destroyed all of my farmland” said U Maung Han, a paddy-farmer from Tha Yet Chaung Village, Pauktaw Township in Rakhine State. His paddies, bearing mature seed-heads of rice, became submerged under water. U Maung Han and his family had to collect the scattered grains in the field.

Highlights

  • Over 5,000 cyclone-affected families (24,000 people) were trained and received financial and technical support for improving their situation by buying seeds, fertilizers, tools and small livestock such as pig, poultry, goat and duck
  • 500 carpenters were trained to build houses for cyclone-affected families
  • Almost 2,800 families (16,800 people) were helped with improved housing
  • In U Maung Han's village, paddy yields increased by at least 25 percent

When the monsoon season started in 2011, they again prepared to cultivate their paddies. But the low quality seed, ruined ditches, salt-contaminated soil, and less people to help them with the labour, proved to be big challenges.

U Maung Han had to borrow 7 baskets of paddy-seed from his friend to sow his land. But he knew that a majority of low quality paddy seed will not thrive in salt-polluted soil. Therefore, he needed to sow the same land three times. Unfortunately, his seeds were only sufficient for sowing twice. "I didn’t have any idea how to cultivate paddy in my field without enough seed.” Being very poor, it was difficult to struggle for his family. U Maung Han’s other livelihoods – clay-pot making and fishing, only helped little.  

To help cyclone-affected farmers like U Maung Han and other affected families, UNDP implemented an emergency and early recovery initiative with the financial support of the European Union. Over 5,000 families (24,000 people) were trained and received financial and technical support for improving their situation by buying seeds, fertilizers, tools and small livestock such as pig, poultry, goat and duck. The initiative enabled training 500 carpenters to build houses for cyclone-affected families and provided materials for the construction. In total, almost 2,800 families (16,800 people) were helped with improved housing.

In U Maung Han’s village alone, 39 farmers were supported to buy fertilizer and paddy-seed. “In addition to the financial support, farmers were also trained to enhance their knowledge on farming techniques that enable them to increase paddy yield by at least 25 per cent,” said Daw Nyo Nyo Thun, Area Project Manager.

After harvesting, U Maung Han could save 78 baskets of paddy for family consumption and 39 baskets to pay back his loan.  This year he doesn't need to worry about paddy seed. "I am very happy that I now have adequate paddy not only for my family to eat but also for next cultivation season to plant. I am going to expand paddy cultivation in the coming season."

Source: UNDP Myanmar

UNDP-EU help countries recover from natural disasters

The UNDP-EU partnership supports countries in being better prepared for natural disasters such as earthquakes, landslides, avalanches, floods, storms, hurricanes and tsunamis. We also work with countries in preparing for the effects of climate change. After a disaster, we support countries and communities with recovery and with "building back better".

Read more about the partnership in Crisis Prevention & Recovery