Myanmar: ACF Convoys Deliver Aid to Hard-Hit Bogalay
Five days after Cyclone Nargis slammed into Myanmar’s southern delta the human toll continues to climb while conditions deteriorate dramatically on the ground. The international humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger / Action Contre la Faim (ACF) has responded by sending a convoy from Yangon loaded with emergency equipment and materials for Bogalay after surveys indicated massive needs in the area.
Yangon: Immense Needs in the Capital
While efforts to clear debris from the streets of Yangon are ongoing and slow progress is being made getting the central water supply back into operation, other difficulties are surfacing. “One of the major problems is access to fuel. People are afraid there’s going to be a massive shortage. Of only two refineries that existed in Burma, one has been completely destroyed and the other is damaged. We’re seeing endless queues in front of petrol [gas] stations,” says Felix Léger, Action Against Hunger’s Country Director in Myanmar. “The other problem is access to basic supplies. People are trying to stock up at small shops. There are still some supplies left but at ever increasing prices.”
This dramatic rise in food prices comes at a time when heightened global food prices were already causing hardship in Myanmar, and prospects are especially bad as cyclone Nargis largely destroyed the region known as the “rice basket of the country.” International food aid must be doubled to prevent further insecurity and shortages.
Bogalay: ACF Delivers First Convoy of Assistance from Yangon
The township of Bogolay is thought to have been one of the most effected areas; some 10,000 people are thought to have died here. The region’s population were already living in precarious conditions prior to the disaster: surveys carried out by Action Against Hunger this past February found that 80% of the region’s water points were inadequate in terms of quality and quantity and nearly 70% of the population had no access to clean water.
Action Against Hunger sent its first convoy of aid this morning from Yangon to Bogalay to provide vital support to the affected populations. Action Against Hunger’s trucks are transporting a range of emergency relief supplies, including 10 tons of rice and water purification tablets, which will ensure distributions of 25,000 food rations. A second convoy is being prepared in Yangon and will include cooking kits (pots, pans), hygiene kits, tarpaulins and equipment for the provision of drinking water.
Action Against Hunger plans to scale up their convoys of aid as additional supplies and reinforcements arrive in country. Insufficient supplies of gasoline alone could be major constraint on relief efforts: “If the difficulties with getting petrol persist, the risk is that this will restrict our movements and our capacity to act,” according to Mr. Léger. For the moment, Action Against Hunger’s teams in Burma are mobilizing all resources while counting on the arrival of additional supplies. ACF has 10 emergency response experts on standby awaiting visas to supplement our teams on the ground; as more assistance is allowed in the country ACF will ramp up its efforts to reach the devastated south as well, as emergency supplies are ready to be deployed.
Action Against Hunger has worked in Myanmar since 1994 and currently intervenes in Rakhine and Kayah states with nutrition, water, sanitation, and hygiene activities, and food security programs. A team of 21 international staff and more than 300 national staff are currently mobilized in response to Cyclone Nargis.