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Food and Water Urgent Priorities After Floods

In hundreds of communities across Rakhine State, floods have disrupted people’s lives, but it is the loss of their rice crop and the destruction of their drinking water that have been some of the greatest challenges. Plan International is currently supporting 32 communities in Rakhine State to recover from floods that devastated the region.

“We didn’t store food and now we are struggling. My rice storage was destroyed during the floods. Not all families lost all of their food stocks, just mine. We store rice underneath our houses, so when the water came, it was one of the first things that washed away,” explains Ma Than Nu, a teacher in Minbya Township.

In Rakhine State, farming is the primary source of income and the floods have come at a critical time for these communities.

Rice crops were just months away from being harvested, and now fields are filled with mud, sand and salty water – conditions that make it almost impossible for rice to grow.

Food shortages have lead to price increases in markets, and floodwaters also washed away animals such as cows and buffalos and with them sources of both food and wealth.

Ponds - the primary sources of drinking water were also flooded, leaving communities at risk of illness and facing water long-term water shortages in a region that is nearing the end of its rainy season.

Plan International’s Rapid Needs Assessment found that in 75% of villages, people had lost their entire supply of food and 78% did not have access to clean drinking water.

Communities are heavily reliant on international organizations and the government, who are currently their only sources of food and water.

A woman in Minbya Township collects some water that remains in her ponds.

According to Myanmar’s Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, more than 658,000 acres of farmland have been destroyed, including 217,246 acres in Rakhine State. Farming equipment has also been destroyed, and this will lead to delays in the recovery process in flood-affected communities.

For Ma Than Nu the recovery process is a worrying one. “At night we can’t sleep because we are worried about our future. Most people here are farmers and the time for planting rice has already passed so we are unsure what will happen in the next few months. We really appreciate Plan International’s help.”

Plan International Myanmar is committed to addressing the humanitarian needs of 580,000 people in 31 villages. Together with the World Food Programme, Plan International will focus on supporting communities that are particularly isolated and will also continue food distributions in Internally Displaced Peoples camps.

To date, Plan International Myanmar has distributed food, clean drinking water, tarpaulins and water purification tablets and have trained communities to how to purify their water, wash their hands and stay healthy during the rainy season.