More than fast emergency aid after cyclone Nargis – arche noVa since ten years in Myanmar

30.05.2018 - 09:56 - Myanmar
Exactly ten years ago. On the 27th April 2008, cyclone Nargis headed towards Myanmar. Vast parts of the Irrawaddy Delta were devastated. Since this disaster arche noVa is active in the South Asian country. We were able to support more than half a million people since then. At the moment we are implementing four projects – in Shan State, Rakhine State, Kayin State and the Irrawaddy Delta region. We stand in close cooperation with the population on-site and local partner organisations in every project.

The political change in Myanmar proceeds only slowly and leaves a vacuum in many places. Additionally there are conflicts and violent confrontations among various groups of the population, shaping the country since decades.

Our program focuses on the most urgent needs of the people. Because of the geographic location and due to climate change, the people in Myanmar have to be alert of extreme weather conditions next to man-made crises. Hurricanes, floodings and also tsunamis especially threaten the Irrawaddy Delta in the South, where then years ago our engagement started.

Shortly after cyclone Nargis devastated the region, a first arche noVa team was on-site. Aid supplies were distributed to families who had lost their possessions as well as their basis of life. There was a lack of everything – also of medical supplies. That is why arche noVa set up two mobile ambulances on boats, the main mean of transport in the delta.

Myanmar is one of the least developed countries in Asia, where especially in the rural areas the need for improved water and sanitary supply is huge and poor hygiene practices lead to diseases.       

Stefan Wetzel – country coordinator arche noVa

To keep the extent of material and human losses in the future as low as possible, only a few months later arche noVa launched a disaster prevention program in 55 communes affected by the cyclone. At the same time we got active in matters of water and sanitary supply. Swamped rain water collection basins were cleaned, new flood-secure rain storages built, at some places deep wells were constructed.

“Cash for work” is part of our program since 2010. This way we hand over our knowledge on construction and restoration of the WASH infrastructure. The people involved receive a small income, their nutritional supply is improved and their self-responsibility is strengthened."

Little by little, other parts of the country moved into focus. In October 2010, heavy flooding brought us to the Northern Rakhine State, in 2013 an earthquake into Shan State. Local coworkers from the first emergency aid team have founded their own NGO in the meantime and are cooperating with us until today. Also other contacts to civil society forces and local organisations were expanded. So it was possible to also work for those people that are suffering from the latent inner-state conflict rising up again and again, like for example in Northern Shan State in 2014.

“After the conflict had made us refugees we did not know how to survive the next day.” - Aye Aye Mu, 2014 in Galaing Palaung camp

Humanitarian aid in Myanmar means for arche noVa since 2013: building bridges. Not only literally while extending ramshackle infrastructure, but also among people. It’s about integrating families expelled in the country, supply of emergency shelters and empowering of accommodating communes in insecure regions.
Our goal is to improve the living conditions of people in long terms. Next to core topics like water and sanitary supply as well as food security, it involves income prospects and disaster prevention.

Read more about arche noVa’s activities in Myanmar in our project descriptions:

Rakhine State

Karen State

Shan State

Irrawaddy Delta