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Aid Delivery In Myanmar Still A Challenge, UN Says

Aid Delivery In Burma/Myanmar Still A Challenge, United Nations Says

5 August 2008 - Three months after Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar, delivery of sufficient relief and early recovery assistance remains a challenge, particularly in hard-to-reach areas of the affected Ayeyarwady Delta, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

"We have seen significant progress being made in the affected areas as a result of the coordinated efforts of local and international humanitarian actors. However, much more urgently needs to be done in remote areas where affected communities are still living in dire conditions," the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, Daniel Baker, said today.

With the loss of up to 85 per cent of seed stocks and some 50 per cent of buffalos in cyclone-affected areas, the rapid provision of paddy farming inputs in time for the monsoon planting season remains critical, OCHA says.

While agriculture is a key area, since it affects both food security and livelihoods, it remains the least funded sector in the UN's revised appeal, with an unmet requirement of $51 million.

To date, more than 25,600 tons of food assistance has been delivered to affected areas, reaching some 684,000 cyclone-affected people.

However, OCHA says there is an urgent need to supply food to some 924,000 vulnerable individuals on a systematic basis over the next nine months.

Just over half of the estimated 488,000 affected households have received some kind of shelter assistance, including plastic sheets, toolkits and other essential non-food items. In addition, many more households have used local materials to rebuild their homes, but there will be a longer-term need to build safer and more permanent housing.

Although no major outbreaks of diseases have been reported, risk factors continue to be present. Around 75 per cent of health facilities in the Delta were damaged or destroyed and will need to be restored.

To reduce the risk of water-borne diseases, interventions are still needed to provide an adequate supply of safe water for local populations. Over the last three months, 800 ponds have been cleaned and pans and pipes to construct more than 14,000 latrines have been distributed. But these efforts will need to be stepped up since approximately 1.8 million severely affected people don't have access to a continuous supply of safe water.

Meanwhile, efforts are ongoing to repair more than 900 schools, and to establish more than 400 temporary safe learning spaces for up to 60,000 children. Relief workers are also distributing essential learning materials to 140,000 girls and boys, and providing supplies to more than 600 schools. To date 254 Child Friendly Spaces are also functioning, providing protection and psychosocial support to children.

OCHA says the cooperation between the Government of Myanmar, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the UN has laid the ground for these concerted relief and early recovery efforts.

"Aid workers now have access to cyclone-affected areas and an objective joint assessment of the ongoing relief and recovery needs has been completed. With these conditions now met, we look forward to the international community following their commitments to continue providing urgently needed assistance," Mr. Baker added.

ENDS

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