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Feature: Myanmar still needs relief, long-term support 6 months after cyclone Nargis

Yangon, Myanmar (4 November) -- Six months after cyclone Nargis struck, there is a continued need for emergency relief, as well as support for early and long term recovery efforts. 2.4 million people in the Ayeyarwady and Yangon Divisions were severely affected when the cyclone hit their villages.

The efforts on the ground continue with urgency; with cooperation between the Tripartite Core Group (TCG) and humanitarian, development and volunteer organisations, and support by the national and international donors and the private sector. So far, 53.3% of the Revised Flash Appeal of USD 484 million has been raised.

"The TCG and its partners have been able to reach a significant segment of the affected population, in all 37 severely affected townships. Now, children are back in school, people are working again, the rice crop is due for harvesting shortly, and transport and health facilities are again accessible. At the same time, challenges remain," says Chairman of TCG and Deputy Foreign Minister of Myanmar U Kyaw Thu.

Since the cyclone struck, food aid has been delivered to almost 1 million people and over 2,500 schools have received support, benefiting over 500,000 children. 41,000 tons of food have been distributed, benefiting 881,400 affected people.

Over 1.7 million people have been reached by some form of emergency shelter assistance, 460,000 animals have been vaccinated, and almost 9,000 families have gained access to sanitation facilities.

Despite the devastation following Nargis, there has been no significant increase in morbidity and mortality. Health service provision has been made available to the population with a particular focus on preventing disease outbreaks and meeting emergency nutrition problems.

Still, there are isolated areas which have not been fully reached. Many survivors remain vulnerable, especially in terms of continued access to clean water, adequate shelter and restoring livelihoods.

"People in the delta express concern for the next disaster. Developing disaster resilient communities is key priority and this will entail working with national and international partners through Disaster Risk Reduction initiatives across all sectors," says UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, Bishow Parajuli.

The establishment of the TCG in May has played a vital role in facilitating the delivery of assistance, and the role continues. On 19 October, the TCG launched the 'Periodic Review' which aims to review the humanitarian relief and early recovery efforts in cyclone affected areas, and provide unambiguous data for planning future assistance. Early this week, 80 enumerators from the TCG partners, with the active participation from the international and local Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), started compiling information in the field. The outcomes of this first of minimum three such reviews, will be announced in mid December.

"An important aspect of the Periodic Review is to illustrate the transparency of coordination and assistance operations, in addition to providing updates on the actual needs," says Thai Ambassador Bansarn Bunnag, Senior ASEAN member of the TCG.

Under the umbrella of the TCG, the humanitarian community is further cooperating with the Myanmar Government on a Post-Nargis Recovery and Preparedness Plan (PONREPP). This is aimed at identifying the longer-term strategies and activities that are required to ensure that not only will the survivors of cyclone Nargis get back to their normal lives, they will also have an opportunity to improve their standards of living.

This week, a Stakeholder Consultation will take place in Yangon, comprising representatives from the TCG, local and international NGOs and donors. The TCG is committed to ensure that the plan, which covers 2009-2011, will be prepared based on an inclusive, community-focused approach to ensure that the guiding principles of recovery as outlined in the July 2008 Post-Nargis Joint Assessment (PONJA), such as aid effectiveness, transparency and community participation, are adhered to. (ASEANSec) [top]

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