Burma to start disaster warning system

Burma will capitalise on developments in its domestic internet system to better prepare the country for possible future natural disasters.

A foundation run by former meteorology department chief Tun Lwin is being set up to tackle Burma’s poor monitoring system. Ecodep will open a centre in Irrawaddy division, where tens of thousands of people lost their lives in 2008’s Cyclone Nargis.

“We will mainly [distribute] information via the internet – now there are big towns with internet access in the [Irrawaddy] region, such as Bogale and Phyarpon,” he said. Staff would be trained in how to use the internet, and warnings would be distributed to fishermen and farmers via bodies like the Fisheries Association and the Rice Association.

“Our aim is to provide swift and solid information for grassroots people while using language that they can understand and offering them advice.”

Tun Lwin hasn’t had an easy relationship with the Burmese government – following Cyclone Nargis, which left up to 140,000 people dead, he resigned his post.

Authorities claimed he had failed at his job of providing warning of natural disasters, but he says he told the government of the impending disaster several days in advance, and that they sought to use him as a scapegoat to cover their own ineptitude.

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