May- June – Early Recovery Programmes

MBEAN inaugurated its early recovery programmes during the third week of May, after two weeks of extensive food and non-food distribution programme, covering 35,000 survivals in 44 villages. From 23 May to 30 June, MBEAN rehabilitated 22 village ponds in 22 different villages, repaired a 9-mile long dyke in Dedaye area, distributing hand-tillers, fertilizer, seeds and diesel to 46 farmers and distributed stationery to 5,003 primary, middle and secondary school students from 28 government schools and 2 monastic schools. MBEAN also continued to distribute rice in Dedaye area.

Pond Rehabilitation

We have rehabilitated 22 ponds in 22 villages in 6 village tracts in Kungyangone and Dedaye township. Not only did we provide necessary equipment such as shovels, lime bags and diesel, but we also provided food to village volunteers.

Repairing a 9-mile long Dyke

There are thirteen village tracts on the easternmost island of Dedaye. To the south of these villages, there exists bay of Mattaban, to the East and North is Toe River and to the west is Thandi River. A dyke is needed to prevent salt-water intrusion, and in 1960s, the government built part of the existing one, while the villages completed it to 9.5 mile long, 8 ft high and 16 ft wide. This dyke prevented more than 7,000 acres of paddy fields in our focus village tracts, namely Sukalat, Shan Kan, Tamatagaw, Mayan West, Taw Chite, and Kyondat.

Tidal waves during the cyclone broke the dyke in 17 different places, flooding thousands of acres of fields. Much salt-water is now subsided, but from damaged and broken places, salt-water keeps flowing into paddy fields, making it impossible to till the lands and sow the seeds. Villagers approached us, asking for assistance for this daunting task, and after many discussions with them and after getting a promise from them that they would contribute to this task, we started the repairing process on 1 June.

Expected completion date of this process is July 17, and the last 4,000 ft of the broken part is being repaired since 12 July, using as many as 100 village volunteers. The local irrigation department repaired the parts built by the government and the villagers repaired the rest. Tides are at their highest during the fourth week of July, and the process will finish in time to help prevent salt water intrusion to paddy fields, which by then, will see young and thriving paddy shoots.

Assisting farmers in Tawku

During the early weeks of Nargis relief operation, we met 256 families from Tawku village in the relief camp in Kungyangone Township, where we distributed emergency food items. Among those 256 families, 46 of them have their own farm lands. Other families are wage-earners, dependent on landed families. Supporting landed families to revive their rice farming can indirectly benefit all the other wage-earners working on those lands.

MBEAN volunteers visited Tawku village to collect data at the end of June and starting 1 July, MBEAN plans to provide need-based assistance to this small farming community.

Stationery Distribution

Stationery Distribution We have learned after many discussions with survivors that the best way for cyclone-stricken children to return to normalcy is to help them get back on their daily routine as quickly as possible. Since June coincides the opening season of all schools throughout the country, we have decided to provide stationery to school children, while UNICEF and Save the Children concentrate on repairing schools. We provided 6 exercise books, 4 pencils, 1 ruler and 1 eraser each to primary school students, 6 exercise books, 2 pens, 1 ruler and 1 eraser each to middle school students and 6 exercise books, 2 pens, 1 ruler and 1 eraser each to secondary or high school students. In total, we provided 30,018 exercise books, 20,012 pencils and pens, 5,003 rulers and 5,003 erasers.

Myanmar is a hotspot for environmentalists

Myanmar has long been a stronghold of bio-diversity in Asia. The rainforests of Myanmar are amongst the most impressive in the world, matched only by the Congo, India and Brazil.

Bordered by the Malay Peninsula, the subcontinent of India and the Southeast Asian mainland, it’s little wonder that Myanmar is now considered an iconic location for environmentalists.

Coral reefs, pristine rivers and home to nearly 90% of the region’s bird species have given Myanmar a rich and diversified environment. Environmentalists look at the nearly 40,000 Gurney’s Pitta thriving in Myanmar and compare the situation to Thailand – across the border – where numbers of this magnificent bird have become marginal.

Although Myanmar’s militarist regime has been heavily criticised, it has brought some unintended protection to its environment. Without the extreme development experienced by some of its neighbors, Myanmar has been spared some of the environmental damage brought about by rapid change.

Now with a more open political environment, investors are eager to take advantage of numerous natural attractions and resources. Critics worry that Myanmar’s weak conservation laws and the need for overseas investment will leave it open to environmental damage beyond its ability to cope.

Years of military rule have left Myamar isolated in the international community but the military’s grip is lessening, and reforms instituted by Thien Sien – Myanmar’s president – offer some hope for the future. Pro-democratic candidates have been allowed to stand for parliament and overseas companies are beginning to consider Myanmar as an investment option.

Already investors are looking at opportunities in Myanmar including tourism, property and rubber plantations. Neighbouring countries such as Malaysia and Singapore have been quick to take advantage but European and U.S. investors are prevented from establishing businesses in Myanmar because of an existing embargo, but this may be reviewed in the future.

As Myanmar becomes a more open society rapid expansion will significantly add to the potential for environmental damage. The view of the International Rivers Network, a US based think tank is that industry will move at a rate that is unsustainable for the environment; its spokesperson Pianporn Deetes maintains that environmental protections are not keeping up with development.

The New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society says that Myanmar’s abundant resources could quickly become a problem as the country develops and makes progress. Its spokesman Robert J Tizard claims the natural resources in Myanmar are huge compared to surrounding countries.