December 14, 2016

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LIFT, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation help flood victims reclaim livelihoods

A Tat Lan, cash-for-work labourer from Yoe Sa Nwin village works to repair the village embankment following recent floods in Myanmar.  Photo: International Rescue Committee
A Tat Lan, cash-for-work labourer from Yoe Sa Nwin village works to repair the village embankment following recent floods in Myanmar.
Photo: International Rescue Committee

HUNDREDS of residents in Rakhine State whose livelihoods were destroyed by recent floods are reclaiming their means of income thanks to financial support from The Livelihood and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, according to a press release issued yesterday.
The Tat Lan programme is funded by LIFT, with US$214,000 allocated to support flood recovery efforts. In 68 villages in Minbya and Myebon, where 26,162 acres of paddy plantations were damaged or destroyed, 1,600 baskets of fast-growing paddy seeds were distributed to farmers.
A social protection, cash–for-work project will also involve 3,967 landless, casual workers, who lost their paddy related employment due to the natural disaster. LIFT has restored 24 sources of fresh water for villages and rebuilt 2.5 miles of damaged embankments ahead of the planting of the emergency-relief paddy seeds.
A donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has provided nets and crab traps to more than 400 small-scale fishermen in 42 villages, whose fishing equipment was washed away in the floods. Another 300 vulnerable households have been given gardening training, seeds and gardening tools to help replace lost income. The floods destroyed vegetable seedlings that were expected to be a source of income for primarily female-headed households. Tat Lan is encouraging local communities to grow a wider variety of vegetables to improve community access to nutritious food, as well to boost livelihoods, stated the press release.
The majority of villagers in the development programme earn less than $1.25 a day. When they lose their fragile means of income these people are forced to borrow from money lenders just to buy daily necessities, said the International Rescue Committee’s Country Director Ralf Thill.
“Debt cripples these communities. We are grateful for all the support we receive as it allows us to help people to reclaim their livelihoods,” said Mr Thill.
IRC’s Tat Lan Coordinator in Myebon, Cherry Soe, said she was moved by the villagers’ appreciation.
“Farmers told me they cried when they looked out at their ruined fields. Then their eyes filled with tears of appreciation when they received a basket of paddy seed to replant their acres. I felt emotional myself when I saw their tears, and I felt proud to be on Tat Lan’s IRC team,” she said.

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