Cash assistance lets villagers priorities their own needs

Monday, August 17, 2015 - 04:24

Article and Photos By Cole Landfried

ActionAid has distributed cash assistance to the most vulnerable flood affected villagers we work with in the Dry Zone. Each household received 15,000 Kyat, which they could spend according to their own needs and priorities.

On August 7th, 51 of the most vulnerable families from Shar Pin Kine village (Pakokku Township, Magway Region) received cash assistance. Aung Kyaw Thin, a 32 year old farmer, is among those displaced, along with his wife and two children, one of whom is disabled. They relocated to a monastery near Ywar Thit village nine days ago, when their home was completely submerged by the flood waters.

After receiving cash assistance, Aung Kyaw Thin elected to use the funds to purchase a number goods necessary to make his family’s life more comfortable. 

“I used the funds to purchase soap, washing powder, toothpaste, mosquito coils, and medicine to treat skin irritation.I was also able to purchase enough rice and vegetables to last three days. The money has been very useful for my family in a difficult situation,” he says.

Other families are utilising the funds they received in different ways. Some have elected to use the funds right away, while others hope to put their allocations to repairing their homes when the flood waters recede.

Ma Nwe, a 42 year old mother from the village, said: “I am saving the money, I haven’t spent it yet. Yesterday we received rice from an individual donor in the local area, which should last us three days. So in four days, I plan to go to the market and use the money to purchase 10 baskets of rice, which will last my family for two weeks.”

Ma Nwe is divorced, with no husband to help support her three children. The cash assistance will help her provide for her family as she waits for the flood waters to recede, after which she hopes to return to her village, get her affairs in order, and resume her work as a casual labourer.

“It is good to have these funds for when the rice runs out,” she says.

The following day, 106 of the most vulnerable families from Let Pan Kyun village (Pakokku Township, Magway region) received cash assistance.

Hla Win Shen, 33, runs a small farm with her mother and elder sister. She is among the 30 farmers who lost their crops when the flood water destroyed the village’s 50 acres of farmland. She is also among the many farmers who brought their cows, which are crucial for small-hold farmers like Hla Win Shen, to their temporary location at Bei Gyi village. The cows fill the village, occupying any extra space in yards, alleys and monastery grounds, and are in constant need of fodder.

File 30758Hla Win Shen meets with ActionAid staff at her temporary home in Bei Gyi village

Hla Win Shen elected to use her funds to purchase 50 baskets of cow feed.The cash assistance, Hla Win Shen says, fills a critical gap for farmers like herself, allowing them to maintain assets that will be crucial to their livelihoods after the waters recede.

“I bought cow feed because the other aid we received focused only on the people of the village.  This money allows us to take care of our livestock as well,” she says.

Nwe Kyi, a 56 yer old casual laborer, has been living in a temporary shelter in Bei Gyi for 12 days. Her two elder sisters were unable to relocate and remain in the village, where their house is only half flooded.

“I haven’t bought anything yet, but when I go back home I plan to buy a boat. The funds I received are not quite enough, but I will be able to combine the money with some of my savings to make the purchase.”

“When the flood came to our village, we urgently needed boats, but we didn’t have enough.  We had to hire boats at great expense. This will help us be prepared in the future.”

Over the past three weeks, floods of an unprecedented scale have killed over 100 in Myanmar and severely affected over one million. ActionAid has been on the ground in Magway and Sagaing regions throughout the disaster, performing critical needs assessments in affected villages and delivering material aid, along with cash assistance as affected villagers attempt to recover from the disaster.