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Natural disasters are occurring with greater frequency and intensity around the world. In the last four months alone a series of earthquakes have hit Nepal and Myanmar is currently facing the devastation wrought by flooding and landslides triggered by Cyclone Komen and further exacerbated by monsoon rains in 12 of its 14 States and Regions. Almost 1.5 million people across the country have been affected by the disaster since mid-July. Global economic losses from natural disasters are now around $300 billion annually, and are projected to increase dramatically. Humanitarian crises halt or even reverse development progress, meaning that millions of the world’s most vulnerable people get left behind. Never has there been a stronger need for commitment to humanitarian action.

This commitment has recently been witnessed in many of the flood affected areas of Myanmar, where volunteers from UNFPA’s Youth Information Corner Programme (YIC) have been on the frontline of the emergency rapid response. Ko Win Tin Aung’s, a YIC volunteer, house is only accessible by boat and many of the other volunteer’s own homes are under water, yet they have been assisting local authorities to provide relief and hope to survivors of the floods. 

The Sarmalauk Village YIC team travelled to Ohn Pin Su Village with Daw Yu Myat Mun of UNFPA. On board was precious cargo; 50 UNFPA Dignity Kits for vulnerable women and girls in flood affected communities. Dignity Kits contain essential items for female hygiene and safety, including sanitary pads, underwear and other hygiene related items, and protect the integrity of women and girls by reducing their vulnerability to gender-based violence in times of crises. During the boat trip the team could see the devastation caused by the floods which had swollen the Ban Hlang River, flooding houses and farmland. Upon arrival the team witnessed first-hand the destruction, yet steadfast resilience of the local community as they pulled together to build a flood defence to avoid potential flooding to houses in low lying areas. YIC volunteers enthusiastically joined in with this task. 

As the team went further into the village they visited the local primary school, which is being used as a temporary site for a mobile health clinic. At the clinic YIC volunteers provide information about reproductive health, as well as distribute Dignity Kits. By 21st August it is estimated that a total of 2,000 Dignity Kits will have been distributed in the most affected 7 States and Regions of Myanmar. An additional 12,000 Dignity Kits are in the pipeline for distribution to affected communities in the coming weeks. Daw Phoo Ngun is currently 6 months pregnant and lost everything in the floods. She said: “When we saw the youth volunteers coming into our village, we were very happy. We have never received this kind of assistance before. They have helped us as much as they can, and we really appreciate it.” 

To see a film of the humanitarian response to the floods in Myanmar please visit here.