Riverbank erosion leaves families homeless

Riverbank erosion leaves families homeless

Families living on a roadside in Sagaing Division’s Kalewa Township after their riverbank houses were condemned say authorities have failed to provide them with alternative housing.

Ten homes in Kyaw Zin village, which sits at the confluence of the Chindwin and Myittha rivers in upper Burma, have been evacuated after they had been destabilised by erosion. Five more are in need of urgent relocation.

“At the moment, we are struggling to move as we have nowhere to go after dismantling our houses,” said one man whose home is on the brink of collapse.

“It is pretty much confirmed that I have to move my house. But I haven’t yet done that as I don’t know where to go. For now, I’m just using sticks to prop up my house.”

In July and August, torrential downpours and a surge of rainwater from the nearby Chin mountain range pounded Kalewa, located within the greater Kale district. The area was among the worst hit as Burma suffered a flood disaster that claimed over one hundred lives, and temporarily displaced about 1.7 million people.

In Kyaw Zin, flood-wrought erosion has created gaping cracks in the streets of the riverside village, which now threaten to swallow homes.

Despite the danger, the villagers said that they not yet received any assistance from the government or civil societies. Those who already have evacuated from the riverbank are now settling on the roadside, saying they have nowhere else to go.

“We have a lot of problems,” said resident Kyaw Zaw Win, who is refusing to move.

“We already have difficulty sustaining ourselves as we have nine kids and making income has not been easy. As we have nowhere else to go, we just have to living here despite risks of erosion.”

A village administration official said that local authorities are aware of the situation and are considering the options for resettlement.

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“For the moment, there has been no official resettlement as the government is yet to provide new land plots for the evacuees. But there is a plan in place. We are discussing about new locations,” said Myo Win.

Myo Win says that residents of the roughly 170 homes that make up Kyaw Zin village have thus far been among the lucky ones, as this is the first time that they have been forced to move as a result of this year’s deadly flood disaster. The World Food Programme has opened an office in Kale district, where it plans to continue to distribute food rations up until mid-2016. The Myanmar Red Cross is also continuing activities in Kale, where permanent housing has not yet been provided for many of the thousands that were initially displaced in the area.

 

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