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Cablegate: Burma Cyclone: Usaid/Ofda Situation Report #35

O 070801Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY RANGOON
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7879
AMEMBASSY BANGKOK IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU IMMEDIATE
USMISSION GENEVA IMMEDIATE
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE
INFO NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL
ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS RANGOON 000534


AIDAC

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP, PRM, DRL
STATE ALSO PASS TO USAID
AID/W FOR DCHA/FFP AND DCHA/OTI
AID/W FOR DCHA/OFDA KLUU, ACONVERY, RTHAYER
BANGKOK FOR DCHA/OFDA WBERGER AND TROGERS
KATHMANDU FOR DCHA/OFDA SMCINTYRE AND MROGERS
USMISSION GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
USMISSION USUN FOR FSHANKS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID SENV KSCA TBIO VM EAGR PREF
SUBJECT: BURMA CYCLONE: USAID/OFDA SITUATION REPORT #35

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. On July 3, Post-Nargis Joint Assessment (PONJA) and Government of
Burma (GOB) representatives attended a "sounding session" to consult
on the Village Tract Assessment preliminary findings. As of June
30, the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) had completed phase I of the
early recovery Basic Services Package (BSP), reaching 250 villages.
On June 30, the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) received notification
from the GOB of a definitive ban on the cash transfer program in
Rangoon Division, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA). As a result, WFP has
discontinued all cash transfers to cyclone-affected individuals for
the purchase of food. The ban will not impact ongoing or planned
cash-for-work programs. From July 1 to 3, a USAID Office of U.S.
Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) disaster specialist and two
staff from the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon conducted a general needs
assessment and review of USAID/OFDA implementing partner programs in
Bogale Township, Irrawaddy Delta. The protection cluster has
established 58 functioning child-friendly spaces in Rangoon Division
and 74 in Irrawaddy Division. According to the logistics cluster,
the 1,828 metric tons (MT) of cargo in Bangkok awaiting transport to
Rangoon is sufficient to maintain cluster air operations through the
previously announced August 10 end date. The cluster will help
organizations arrange surface and sea transportation after logistics
cluster cease. End Summary.

------------------------------
HUMANITARIAN SITUATION
------------------------------

2. On July 3, PONJA and GOB representatives attended a "sounding
session" to consult on the Village Tract Assessment preliminary
findings. GOB decision makers had not attended the first
presentation on June 24. As of June 30, the UNDP had completed
phase I of the early recovery BSP, reaching 250 villages identified
as the most vulnerable and a total of 23,973 households, or an
estimated 113,000 individuals. BSP activities include clearing
ponds, providing shelter, and clearing debris from community spaces,
such as footpaths, schools, and monastery compounds. UNDP will
conduct a comprehensive follow-up in all 250 villages, including
assessments of monsoon planting, community works programs, future
needs planning, and ongoing support of Self Reliance Groups.

3. On June 30, WFP received notification from the GOB of a
definitive ban on the cash transfer program in Rangoon Division,
according to OCHA. As a result, WFP has discontinued all cash
transfers to cyclone-affected individuals for the purchase of food.
The ban will not impact ongoing or planned cash-for-work programs.
In response to the ban on cash transfers, WFP plans to initiate a
short-term food assistance program, targeting 200,000 beneficiaries
in Rangoon Division.

As of July 3, the food cluster had delivered 18,703 MT of food
assistance to affected areas, of which 14,564 MT had been
distributed. The market assessment survey, conducted by WFP and
cooperating partners, concluded on July 6 after covering 35 markets
across 21 townships in Irrawaddy Delta. WFP subsequently undertook
commodity price monitoring to provide further context to the market
survey assessment findings. WFP has scheduled additional
assessments, including a Food and Nutrition Survey conducted jointly
with the U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) from July to August.


------------------------------
U.S. GOVERNMENT RESPONSE
------------------------------

5. A team of USAID/OFDA disaster specialists remains in Burma
monitoring the humanitarian situation, meeting with humanitarian
partners, coordinating USAID/OFDA humanitarian assistance, and
implementing the USAID/OFDA transition from emergency response to
early recovery. From July 1 to 3, a USAID/OFDA disaster specialist
and two staff from the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon conducted a general
needs assessment and review of USAID/OFDA implementing partner
programs in Bogale Township, Irrawaddy Delta, the results of which
will be outlined in a forthcoming cable.

-----------
PROTECTION
-----------

6. The U.N. Protection Cluster continues to create child-friendly
spaces in villages and temporary settlements to promote protective
environments. The cluster has established 58 functioning
child-friendly spaces in Rangoon Division and 74 in Irrawaddy
Division.

7. The Women's Protection Technical Working Group has established
terms of reference, agreeing to develop a strategy to integrate
women's protection programs across all clusters. The working group
is also developing advocacy tools, resources for partners and
clusters, and a strategy to engage with and build on the experiences
of local non-governmental organizations. In addition, the cluster
plans to provide technical support to the GOB Department of Social
Welfare, Relief, and Resettlement to develop a National Plan of
Action on Women.

8. USAID/OFDA is supporting two humanitarian organizations to
provide safe and protected environments for vulnerable populations
affected by the cyclone. World Vision is working with affected
children in Bogale Township, while UNICEF is co-coordinating the
protection of women and children cluster and implementing
activities, including establishing child-friendly spaces, family
tracing and reunification, and community-based psychosocial care.

----------
LOGISTICS
----------

9. To date, the logistics cluster helicopters have conducted 466
flights reaching 89 remote locations. The five helicopters can
operate only while existing fuel supplies remain, however, as WFP
has not received permission from the GOB to place fuel bladders at
the logistics hubs. Therefore, helicopters operate for
approximately half a day before returning to Rangoon. WFP continues
to work with the GOB to obtain the proper clearance for stationing
the fuel bladders at the logistics hubs. The logistics cluster is
planning to extend the contract on the helicopters through July 14.

10. WFP notes that passenger transport via the helicopters continues
to run smoothly and encourages organizations to continue to submit
passenger transport requests as early as possible. The logistics
cluster prioritizes personnel accompanying or planning to distribute
the cargo. The helicopter operations manager requested at the July
1 meeting that organizations make every effort to correctly identify
the weight and volume of cargo reserved for helicopter flights.

11. According to the logistics cluster, the 1,828 MT of cargo in
Bangkok awaiting transport to Rangoon is sufficient to maintain
cluster air operations through the previously announced August 10
end date. However, a USAID/OFDA disaster specialist in Rangoon
noted from discussions with the logistics cluster that the contracts
for the two aircraft constituting the airbridge from Bangkok to
Rangoon are currently scheduled to expire on July 21 and 23, though
additional funding may be available to extend operations to the end
of the month. The logistics cluster plans to arrange sea and
surface transportation for any of the 1,828 MT of cargo still
remaining in Bangkok after the aircraft contracts expire, whether on
July 21 and 23 or at the end of the month. The logistics cluster is
currently utilizing 60 percent of the funding originally pledged in
support of the special operations appeal, which covers 90 days of
operations.

12. According to USAID/OFDA disaster specialists, at the July 1 and
2 cluster meetings in Bangkok and Rangoon, respectively, cluster
lead representatives encouraged humanitarian organizations to begin
to arrange alternative transportation methods. Due to airbridge
capacity restraints through the August 10 end date, the cluster is
not accepting additional Cargo Movement Requests (CMRs) from
humanitarian organizations. However, the logistics cluster indicated
readiness to accept additional CMRs on an emergency, case-by-case
basis to assist organizations unable to secure alternative
transportation for critical or time-sensitive cargo scheduled to
arrive in Bangkok in the near future. Cluster partners also intend
to assist organizations in arranging non-cluster sea and surface
transportation after the cluster logistics system closes down on
August 10. The cluster lead also noted WFP's intention to make
storage assets, including the cluster warehouse in Rangoon,
available to humanitarian organizations after cluster operations
cease.

VILLAROSA

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