Workers rebuild a cyclone-damaged home in Yangon Pauk in the south-western Irrawaddy Division. Cyclone Nargis, which affected millions of people in 2008, and Cyclone Giri, which affected 260,000 in 2010, have left thousands of people homeless.
Children and women in crisis
The most severe and recent hardships affecting children and women in Myanmar are attributable to cyclones. As the worst natural disaster to ever befall the country,1 the legacy of Cyclone Nargis includes housing devastation, destruction of agricultural land and declining job opportunities for the many labourers who inhabit the delta. Children in hard-to-reach areas continue to suffer from undernutrition and inadequate sanitary facilities. Another cyclone, Giri, hit the impoverished area of Rakhine State in October 2010, affecting at least 260,000 people; more than 100,000 were left homeless and most infrastructure was destroyed in the most severely hit townships. Young children, in particular, have been placed at high risk of undernutrition and disease.
Meeting urgent needs and building resilience in 2011
UNICEF, the cluster lead for nutrition and WASH and co-lead for education, will work together with the Government of Myanmar, other UN agencies and NGOs to focus on assisting the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach children in areas of Rakhine (including Northern Rakhine State), Chin State and the Irrawady Delta. In 2011, UNICEF expects to reach over a million people, including 190,000 women, 380,000 girls and 370,000 boys living in emergency conditions.
- The range of nutritional relief and support will be expanded: 2,400 children with severe acute malnutrition will receive therapeutic feeding, at least 90 per cent of children (from 6–59 months old) will get vitamin A supplements and 60 per cent of pregnant and lactating women will receive the micronutrients essential for maternal well-being and a healthy pregnancy in the targeted hard-to-reach areas.
- Better access to health services for children and women will be experienced at the local level as referral systems and capacity of the primary health staff are improved in under-served and hard-to-reach areas.
- Clean water is key to better health. Around 70,000 families will gain access to satisfactory water and good storage receptacles, and 4,100 families will receive materials to construct and use sanitary latrines.
- Education provides stability in times of crisis. To enhance the resilience of the education sector, in 2010 UNICEF will advocate for improved school infrastructure across the country. To this end, an additional 20 cyclone-resistant schools will be constructed or improved in the delta, and the lack of proper water and sanitation facilities in existing schools structures will also be addressed.
- Vulnerable children from poor families in emergency areas will have access to improved local support and referral networks.
Humanitarian funding at work: Highlights from 2010
In 2010, UNICEF estimated that US$15,899,722 was needed to fund its human-itarian work in Myanmar. As of October 2010, a total of US$3,624,422 had been received, 23 per cent of the goal. Despite the shortfall in funding, UNICEF was able to improve the well-being of women and children affected by the cyclones. Twenty-four health centres were rebuilt to new cyclone-resistant standards; 52,000 households received mosquito nets to stave off malaria. Around 94 per cent of children under age 5 (280,000 children) received vitamin A supplementation; micronutrients were provided to 81,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women. UNICEF met urgent needs for drinking water by providing 7.5 million litres of water for 37,500 people and improved water-storage capabilities for approximately 53,000 families. Nearly 50 schools were rebuilt, and UNICEF helped community groups protect and assist 7,000 vulnerable children.
Funding requirements for 2011
UNICEF is requesting US$9,950,000 for its 2011 plans, about half of the amount requested last year because the level of funds required to restore social infrastructure (schools and rural health centres) is significantly reduced.
More information on achievements of 2010 and the humanitarian action planned for Myanmar in 2011 can be found at www.unicef.org/hac2011 or the country office website at www.unicef.org/myanmar.
1 Tripartite Core Group, ‘Post-Nargis Joint Assessment’, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Government of the Union of Myanmar and United Nations, Jakarta, July 2008, p. 1.