Myanmar: Cyclone-proof shelters help communities
|Students exit a UNDP-built cyclone-proof shelter,|
Pyin Kanu Kone Village, Labutta Township.
Seven multistory steel and brick shelters will serve as many as 20,000 residents of Bogalay and Labutta townships containing the five villages that bore the heaviest impact from Nargis.
The cyclone claimed the lives of an estimated 140,000 people, flattening the fragile wooden houses inhabited by the majority of the Delta’s population and wiping out the livelihoods of 2.4 million.
“The need for vulnerable communities like those in Ayeryawady to have a first line of defense against natural disasters was clear in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis,” said Bishow Parajuli, UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative.
“Thanks to the support of our partners in funding and constructing the shelters, we've been able to help strengthen the resilience of these communities and help raise their level of readiness for the next disaster,” said Parajuli.
The shelters were built in the five villages of Ma Gu-5, Set Kyun and Pyin Boe Gyi, Kyar Chaung and Pyin Ka Nu Kone, with US$2.1 million in funds contributed by the Government of Denmark, European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO), and other donors.
Outside the period when cyclonic systems or heavy rainfall affect the region, mostly during the months of the southwest monsoon from June to September, the shelters can be used as public buildings, for school classes and community meetings.
“The shelters are part of an important system to help vulnerable communities maintain and rehearse their preparedness for disasters,” said Christophe Reltien, head of the European Commission’s Myanmar Humanitarian Office. “The system includes early warning, evacuation, search and rescue, and first aid.”
UNDP’s Disaster Risk Reduction programme has also supported more than 500 Delta communities to set up village committees to conduct training and assist with disaster alerting and first aid facilities and to build footpaths, bridges and piers for regular access and for evacuation during disasters.
Committee members include representatives from self-reliance groups, teachers and village elders who were instrumental in organizing village residents to use the near-complete shelters when Cyclone Giri made landfall last October.
Alex Nyi Nyi Aung
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