Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Govt, civil society to collaborate in providing flood aid

Relief workers from the government are teaming up with local civil society organisations to ensure the most effective spending of emergency funding. Nearly one-quarter of 1 million people are now receiving government assistance after being driven from their homes by flooding.

The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement will collaborate with civil society to avoid waste in allocating its natural disaster fund of nearly K17 billion (US$14.4 million), said Union Minister U Win Myat Aye following a meeting yesterday between the ministry and civil society groups in upper Myanmar.

“Our main concern is to provide food for families in the flooded areas. We are now providing rice, canned sardines and instant noodles for 230,000 flood victims, spending K60 to K70 million a day. The government has enough funding to continue to provide food until the people can return home.”

More than K2 billion of the fund, originally set at K20 billion, has already been spent on providing water to dry zones afflicted by the El Niño weather phenomenon.

“We’re still expanding our services to people who need help,” said the minister.

U Win Myat Aye’s ministry needs the help of civil society because its own staff are too few, he said. “The government and civil society need to work together in providing aid to flood victims. They can combine the strengths of our respective organisations to offer more effective services,” he said.

And by drawing on civil society’s local knowledge, the government can be sure of getting aid to all affected populations, while avoiding duplication.

Civil society representatives who attended yesterday’s meeting said they were ready to work with the government, but were finding it hard to come up with precise figures for those in need.

The Department of Social Welfare says the most-affected areas are in Kachin State and Sagaing, Magwe, Mandalay, Ayeyarwady and Bago regions. More than 300,000 people are at risk of being driven from their homes by floodwaters.

In January, a report to parliament said barely over one-tenth of the K100 billion emergency fund under the president’s control was utilised during last year’s severe floods. In his report to the Speaker of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, then-president U Thein Sein said he had disbursed just K12.81 billion of the K100 billion fund, of which the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation had spent nearly K8 billion.

Translation by Thiri Min Htun