IOM Builds Shelters for Vulnerable Communities

Following the impact of the flooding in Myanmar caused by cyclone Komen, IOM Myanmar has been involved in building shelters, which are funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO). Rakhine State was one of the regions most severely affected by the floods. IOM engineer Naw Moe Thida Aung was in Rakhine State during the post-flood activities and she describes her experiences in building shelters in the village of Minbya.

“I started working in a village in Minbya, Northern Rakhine State, in November 2015 as a field engineer for IOM. In the village, we have started building houses for nine families who are poor and in need of assistance. These communities struggle every day for their living. The good thing about the village is that they help each other and give to the needy in their community.

“These remote communities suffered the highest numbers of damaged houses and flooded agricultural lands. The most important thing for these families is to live in a house which is safely constructed. During my time there I got to know one of the housewives from the nine families – Ma Phyu Phyu (name changed), who spoke to me about her experiences.

“I learned that Ma Phyu Phyu has to look after her four children and she struggles to meet their daily needs as her husband works far from the village. For the last year, she did not have any contact with her husband at all. Ma Phyu Phyu said she became worried about her husband and had heard that he was sold to work on Thai fishing boats. She mentioned that she also had to borrow about 600,000 MMK (around USD 500) that her husband had used to secure his job. Now, she is facing financial problems and struggles to cover the cost of education and basic needs of her four children.      

“Ma Phyu Phyu sells ‘Mont Ti’ (boiled rice noodles) to get her daily income and only makes around 1,000 MMK profit (90 US cents) to cover the daily needs of the whole family. Sometimes she has to borrow money from others if her daily income is not high enough. For food, she sometimes finds vegetables which grow in the wild.

“She said she feels sad during the rainy season as her roof has holes and the rain makes almost every part of the house wet.

“This year, before the rainy season begins, IOM Myanmar has started building a house for her family with the support of ECHO. She said she is very happy that she is going have a new, safely constructed house in which she does not need to worry about the leaking roof or ask for help from the village, like she did last year.  Ma Phyu Phyu said she is now not worried about finding a new place to live.

“I am happy we can help Ma Phyu Phyu, but I do believe there are other families who also have difficulties getting decent shelters. The houses that we are building now will be a great help to the people who are in need of a safely constructed place to live.”