Vice President U Henry Van Thio presides over coordination meeting on disaster preparedness, possible food shortages

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Vice President U Henry Van Thio presides over the coordination meeting on tackling possible food shortages caused by global climate changes at the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement in Nay Pyi Taw on 18 August 2020. Photo: MNA

Vice President U Henry Van Thio, in his capacity as Chairman of the National Disaster Management Committee, presided over a coordination meeting on tackling possible food shortages caused by severe flood and drought resulting from global climate changes. The meeting was held at the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement.
The Vice President talked about the effects of climate change resulting in natural disasters such as strong winds, floods, severe heat and drought, as well as landslides and soil erosions more frequently in many places.
He also pointed out the deadly soil erosion and landslide cases at the Kyaik Thalan pagoda in Mawlamyine Township in 2018 and at Ma Lat Mountain in Paung Township in 2019 in Mon State; flood caused by damage to the spillway of the dam on Swa Creek in 2018, accident to the embankment of Shwe Gae sluice gate near Amarapura Township in 2020, and the recent landslide incident in Phakant.
While deaths and damages to infrastructure are significant losses for the country, the long term plans must be adopted to address the decline in agricultural products caused by flood and drought, the Vice President added.
He also advised keeping watch on the changing situations of neighbouring countries which could impact on Myanmar because of information, technology, products, employment, culture, economy and politics.
The Vice President said that the COVID-19 pandemic had posed many challenges in the health and economic sectors; it has impacted negatively on the employment situation; and the pandemic has placed a heavy burden on the economy. He added that climate changes could worsen these situations and that proper plans should be adopted to avoid bad experiences resulting from a shortage of food.
Myanmar needs to ensure food self-sufficiency and encourage export of agricultural produce by using agricultural techniques appropriate with climate change, giving technical assistance to farmers, creating local and foreign markets to promote the trade sector and coordinating with relevant ministries to lessen the losses from natural disasters.
He added that Myanmar formed a coordination body in 2018 to assist in the immediate recovery of disaster-affected areas, and that it was being co-chaired by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation.
The Vice President concluded his speech with the remark that success in the agricultural sector could elevate the socio-economic status of the people as 70 per cent of the population live in rural areas.
Union Minister Dr Win Myat Aye, in his capacity as Vice-Chairperson of the National Disaster Management Committee, explained the committee’s works and activities on resolving potential food insecurity caused by climate change, plans to provide social welfare services during natural disasters and using technology in preventive measures and collaborative efforts with other countries.
Committee members Union Ministers Dr Aung Thu, U Thant Sin Maung and Dr Than Myint, explained various matters including food production, food exports, damages caused by natural disasters, preparatory and preventive measures for natural disasters, combatting climate changes, building more dams, using water systematically, promoting trade, keeping food reserves, providing enough electricity, and building more roads and bridges for better transport.
Deputy Ministers U Maung Maung Win and U Soe Aung discussed matters related to planning and finance as well as preparing reports on how to resolve food insecurity caused by floods or droughts.
In his closing remarks, the Vice President said that environmental conservation is very significant for trying to protect natural disasters, including floods and droughts. He highlighted the importance of creating more arable lands to produce more crops, using the farmlands systematically, rainwater harvesting, the need to build more dams, and plans to maintain arable lands in optimum conditions. He said that modern freezing and refrigerated storages should be jointly built by the government and the private sector. He suggested that foods should be exported only if food security is guaranteed in the country. The Vice President concluded that by linking with the MSDP, a “master plan” must be drafted in order that plans to safeguard food security can be continuously and effectively carried out.
The meeting was attended by Union Ministers Dr Aung Thu, U Thant Sin Maung, Dr Than Myint and Dr Win Myat Aye, Deputy Ministers U Maung Maung Win and U Soe Aung, directors-general and officials.—MNA
Translated by Maung Maung Swe

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