Food aid for Chin State still in question

By Jaiden Coonan
On Thursday, 6 August 2015

The United Nations World Food Program is preparing to bring in much needed aid to the isolated Chin State, yet transportation is making it difficult, as Kalay myo has become an island.

A Member of the WFP’s Emergency Response Team, Johnny told Mizzima that the impoverished state is set to receive 87,904 metric tons of food aid including 2,724 metric tons of High Energy Biscuits.

Chin State Chief Minister, Hong Ngai, was meant to arrive in Kalay myo on August 5 to hold a meeting with the WFP’s emergency response team and Sagaing Region Chief Minister, Tha Aye, but was unable to attend as he was held up in Hakha.

Kalay myo residents predict that roads into Chin State will not open for over a week. Some people are also discussing new roads being built as most routes have been destroyed by landslides.

An ERT member met with Tha Aye, in Kalay myo on August 5 to discuss plans to move the goods into the isolated town which has been surrounded by the worst floods in what locals claim to be over 100 years.

The goods are to be delivered from Monywa to the small township of Kalaywa then speedboats will deliver goods to Kalay myo.

The WFP’s emergency response to Kalay myo started on 2 August with the delivery of 4 metric tons of high-energy biscuits, teamed with an assessment of urgent food needs of at least another 11 tons of food product, ranging from rice to oils, which is on the way.

Aid concerns for Kalaywa’s refugee population isn’t truly known as the government is still updating it’s needs, the population is out of telephone reach.

“Kalaywa is GSM only so it is very hard to contact the people there so the only means of contact at the moment is military radio contact. Information is very difficult at the moment, people have run out of battery on their GSM phones,” said Johnny.

Tha Aye is set to ask the Sagaing Regional Commander of the Tatmadaw for airlifts to move the 15-tone aid package into the flood stricken area, but this is uncertain as military aircraft are in high demand.

“For the recovery effort we have to make an assessment of the people’s needs, there will be an intervention to assist this, once we know, then we can work on a program more responsive to recovery needs,” said Johnny.

Pierre Peron of OCHA in Yangon said that OCHA will coordinate the modelling assessments of recovery needs as per the government’s request. This being the second phase to help assess the damage to farms, tainted wells, and loss of livestock, in order to help the affected population rebuild their lives and livelihoods.

The recovery needs assessment in Kalay myo will begin next week if not sooner, no date has been set.

Kalay myo’s urban refugees total 12,419 as of 3 August  but this number is beginning to drop as people return to homes and begin to remove the thick mud that has washed into their homes.

20,187 refugees call the surrounding villages of Kalay myo home; unfortunately, the wait will be longer for them with dire consequences on their lives. Farming of pulse, peanuts and sunflowers will be delayed this year as some who have ventured out on the plains have discovered that at least 3 feet of mud is below the water, making farming anytime soon impossible.

Kalay myo consists of 19 wards, nine of which are flooded, with 156 villages around Kalay myo’s east side leaving 32,606 people in need of assistance.

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