Yangon/Islamabad/Cologne: The long awaited rainy season has finally arrived, leading to terrible flooding in many countries of South and South East Asia. The situation in Myanmar is especially dramatic, where unusually strong monsoon rains have triggered the most severe flooding for decades and affecting around a million people. In Malteser International’s project regions in and around Sittwe – the capital of the severely affected Rakhine state – however, no dead or wounded were reported thanks to a successful Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) training program for the villagers.
“Our early warning system worked here,” reported Malteser International Country Coordinator in Myanmar, Johannes Kaltenbach, “when we called the villages that have DRR teams trained by us, we found that everybody was already prepared and informed. They either had brought themselves to safety in good time, or been evacuated. The teams were also able to keep us up to date by mobile phone with what aid they needed.” Malteser International has been training the villagers in and around Sittwe in DRR since 2005, as well as creating DRR teams and undertaking training sessions for local officials.
Although they may have survived the disaster relatively unscathed, the people affected by the flooding are now in urgent need of food, drinking water, medication and a roof over their heads. Following a rapid assessment in 80 villages in Rakhine state, Malteser International provided flood relief in Sittwe, as well as in the two northern rural districts of Maungdaw and Buthidaung in collaboration with local partners. In Pakistan, Malteser International is assisting local health officials to deal with flooding in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
In and around Sittwe, Malteser International has provided local residents with essential aid material such as clothing, cooking equipment, water filters, blankets, sleeping mats, mosquito nets and hygiene articles – thanks to financial support from the Swiss embassy. In the coming weeks, food and drinking water will also be distributed to around 10,000 people. Malteser International is active treating the sick and wounded with nine medical teams in Maungdaw and Buthidaung. Malteser International has also begun the process of draining and cleaning reservoirs of drinking water. Around 3,500 affected women will receive kits containing clothing and hygiene articles.
Unusually strong monsoon rains, flooding and landslides have affected millions of people in other South and South East Asian countries. In Pakistan, Malteser International: one of the few international aid organizations working in the especially hard-hit Chitral district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, is supporting local health officials by providing medication, hygiene and baby kits, as well as mosquito nets, water purification tablets, information material and medical personnel. At present, 90% of the district is cut off from the outside world, and many villages are only reachable by helicopter. In Nepal, where Malteser International has been providing emergency relief since the severe earthquake in April, helping the population in the painful process of rebuilding their lives, the monsoon rains have made a bad situation even worse. Countless numbers of people who lost their homes in the earthquake have been left with nothing but tarpaulins for shelter.