Thousands of cyclone victims still need housing

Apr 30, 2009 (DVB), More attention should be focused on the thousands of families still without proper housing one year after cyclone Nargis, say aid organizations who claim cyclone victims still need almost US$700 million in aid.

The Association of South East Nations, the United Nations and the Burmese government say that a total of $US690 million is needed from the international community over the next three years to restore the lives of those affected by the cyclone.

United Nations Revised Appeal has said that the total amount of funds raised over the last year was $US315 million, more than $US150 million short of the required $US477 million.

Richard Horsey, Burma analyst and former liaison officer with the International Labour Organisation in Rangoon, who recently visited the cyclone-hit Irrawaddy delta, points out that many people still live in emergency shelters built immediately after the catastrophe.

"When we talk about year two and year three, we are talking about recovery, not emergency assistance. And that is much more politically sensitive," he said.

"If we can’t get these communities back on their feet, living in decent houses and able to support themselves, they will go hungry."

According to international aid agency Oxfam, hundreds of thousands of people are also facing the prospect of being trapped in debt with little prospect of securing further credit or loan.

"One of the many impacts of Cyclone Nargis was that it destroyed almost an entire harvest that farmers and fishermen had already borrowed against before the cyclone hit," said Claire Light, Oxfam Country Director for Burma.

"That has meant many families defaulted on those loans, and haven't been able to access enough credit since to get back on their feet."

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) this year aims to provide shelter for 13,000 families before the monsoon rains.

The UN Development Programme has estimated that joint achievements in the affected area over the last year have provided food aid to one million people, education support to half a million children and over 900,000 health consultations.

Also, 50,000 latrines have been constructed in the area and 4000 metric tons of rice seeds have been distributed.

The cyclone last May is thought to have killed around 140,000 people, and affected some 2.4 million people. Almost one million acres of farmland were ruined.

Reporting by Rosalie Smith

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