With Myanmar being one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries in the world, the authorities concerned have been making concerted efforts to mitigate the impact of floods, and cooperation is needed to take a proactive approach in dealing with the risks and also providing aid to flood victims nationwide. Regarding the measures of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief, Resettlement, the following are some excerpts from an interview with Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief, and Resettlement Dr. Win Myat Aye.
Questions: Now that some of the regions and states in the country are being faced with flood hazards, could you elaborate on the process of providing relief and assistance to the flood victims?
Answer: Regarding the flash flooding, the first thing is that they have to move and take shelter at the relief camps. I have found out that the proportion of flood victims and relief camps are not equal, that is overpopulated. The main challenge is the sanitation problems, which are in need of awareness. There are just a few toilets for them, thus we are trying to cope with this problem as much as we can. People will have to take temporary refuge in these camps about a week or ten days. Compared to today’s situation, the water level has been declining in Bago Region. But the water level in Bilin Township is not falling. It was learnt that there were over 18700 flood victims till 28 July, and there were over 20000 on 29 July. There are 17000 victims in Mon State and 6000 victims in Taninthayi Region as well. Efforts are being made to relocate the flood victims in Mon and Kayin states as well as in Bago Region. Camps have been opened in flooded quarters in many places. There are about 14000 flood victims in Kayin State, and there are a total of 42 relief camps in the whole of Bago Region. We are not in a position to shut down the flood camps due to various reasons. Originally, there were 39 relief camps in Mon State, 13 relief camps in Taninthayi Region, and 52 relief camps in Kayin State.
Q: Being a concerned official, what are you planning to do next?
A: As for the National Natural Disaster Management Committee, efforts are being made to provide necessary assistance to those who are in need of help. For instance, cooperation is needed not to break Madauk Dam, and we are determined to respond to it as fast as possible. For instance, Bago and Thanatpin townships had to suffer flooding, besides wind hazards which destroy many roofs of houses in these regions. That’s why we provided what they really needed. We are making attempts to fulfill their requirements relentlessly. As you already know there are many volunteers and social organizations that contributed their voluntary services to the flood-stricken areas. Many social organizations distributed rice packets and drinking water bottles in Nyaunglebin, Pyuntaza, and Peinzalote. The government also provides necessary assistance to the needy.
Moreover, we provide cash assistance to the families that are unable to cook rice on their own. We are also aware of it and we could set up a scheme to provide them with some money, especially to those who are expecting a child, senior citizens and infants.
Q: Could you tell us the emergency contact information for people in the event of an emergency situation?
A: For the television channels, people can readily contact us through 0673404664, 0673404777.
Q: What message would you deliver through to us?
A: What I would like to tell you is that we embrace sufferings of the people. Every country in the globe is projected to experience the effects of climate change and natural disasters. Other countries also have to face such natural disasters. We are making an endeavor to mitigate the impending dangers, and to be ready to respond to them with the most effective ways and means. In case of emergency and crisis, people can contact us, so that we can tackle these hazards as a top priority. As a rule, we are carrying out our duties conscientiously. We strive to perform our services with might and main.
Win Ko Ko Aung