Myanmar floods: HelpAge responding to families affected


By Edward Knight

At least 300 family kits have been provided by HelpAge International to five camps for internally displaced people in the Magway region in west Myanmar.

"Older people are particularly vulnerable during disasters and are often left out of emergency responses," said Anne-Laure Hallaire, Deputy Country Director at HelpAge International Myanmar.

"They have very specific needs: they're less mobile, may need special diets, can feel isolated and distressed, and may find it difficult to access sanitation facilities."

Older people in Pwint Phyu Camp in the wake of the 2015 Myanmar floods Older people in Pwint Phyu Camp in the wake of the 2015 Myanmar floods (c) Phyu Sin Thant Lu/HelpAge International

The floods

Heavy rainfall in the wake of Cyclone Komen on 30 July added to the monsoon floods in Myanmar, also known as Burma, resulting in 96 deaths and affecting more than 589,000 people.

More than 122,200 households have been displaced and floods have reportedly damaged 520,000 acres of farmland, posing a long-term risk to food supplies.

HelpAge's support

HelpAge has been working in Pwint Phyu, Minbu District, along with 35 volunteers from the National Older People's Federation and National Ageing Networks, helping families in Magway, which was declared a disaster zone on 31 July. There are currently no other humanitarian organisations active in the vicinity.

Loading bottled water to distribute to those affected by Myanmar floods Loading bottled water to distribute to those affected by Myanmar floods (c) Phyu Sin Thant Lu/HelpAge International

HelpAge has also been working with the Department of Social Welfare and Department of Rural Development.

One resident, Daw Hla San, 50, fled Kyaung Su village with her family to a nearby camp.

"When we arrived here first, we could not buy anything to eat and had to depend on what we brought from home. Here in the camp, the biggest challenge is taking care of the older people and children as there's not enough space to sleep inside the building. I've only slept for two nights out of the last six. But we have been provided with rice, cooking oil, purified water, instant noodles, dry-fish and potatoes."

In the Pwint Phyu township, 195 out of 205 villages have been affected, with 147 completely flooded. Approximately 25,597 households have also been impacted and 19 temporary evacuation shelters have been set up as of 5 August to shelter those who can't return home.

HelpAge in Myanmar

Myanmar has a population of 54 million people, the 25th largest in the world, with 8.9% aged 60 and over. HelpAge International has been working in the country since 2003 and established a country office there in 2008. We responded to Cyclone Nargis that year by implementing an emergency relief programme focused on distribution of food and non-food items and the provision of healthcare. At present, we have nine projects in seven regions across the country.

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