Hundreds of villagers have been living in temporary shelters underneath and near Mandalay’s Yadanarpon Bridge since August, after flooding made their homes unliveable, they told The Myanmar Times last week.
Most of those displaced said they had been shifted to new villages in 2001 to make way for the construction of the bridge. However, the land given to them as compensation is on a floodplain so they have to leave their homes each rainy season, creating both economic hardship and health problems, they said.
The floodwater is likely to leave them stuck in their temporary homes for another two months, they said.
“We moved from our villages and have been staying here [in temporary huts] for the past month-and-a-half,” said Daw Mya Mya, 55, from Padanmyar village. “We moved to Padanmyar in 2001, we were given that land as compensation after losing our homes in Kwaeson ward because of the bridge. I don’t think we’ll ever have the chance to move somewhere better.”
Ma Nay Chi Moe, a 24-year-old housewife, said most of the 150 households in Padanmyar village had been forced to relocate this rainy season.
“After the flooding recedes we normally suffer from illness and need to repair our houses again. We also faced some flooding problems when we stayed in Kwaeson ward but here is much more difficult for us. People in the [three] villages to the east of Padanmyar, near the Mandalay-Sagaing Road, have it even worse than us,” she said.
More than 200 households from those three villages, which are known as Shwe Lay, left their homes in August.
Most previously earned a living from making bamboo products, such as matting and walls for bamboo homes, but are now labourers.
“Our villages are also on the floodplain. We were moved there from along Strand Road, near Yadanarpon Bridge, in 2001. We get overflow from both the Ayeyarwady River and also Dokhtawaddy River, which is to the south. The water level is up over the roof of our homes,” labourers U Soe Maw and U Tin Maung Myint said.
“No officials told us not to stay beside the road. We normally get some free healthcare support after the flooding but not enough and we don’t get any other help.”
Meanwhile, the water level of the Ayeyarwady River at Water Guard Station 1, near Mayanchan jetty in Chanayetharsan township, was 1218cm on September 1, still below the warning level of 1260cm, and had declined to 1084cm by October 5.