THE United Nations said last week there was a “critical
need” for funding to help rebuild the lives of millions
of people in the agriculture sector whose livelihoods were shattered
when cyclone Nargis battered the Ayeyarwady delta last May.
A United Nations statement issued after a meeting of international
donors in Yangon last Thursday said only US$16.3 million had been
provided out of $58.4 million sought for the sector under a UN
Revised Appeal for funding made last July.
This was only 28 percent of the amount sought, making agriculture
the least funded sector under the nine-month-old appeal, said
the statement, issued by the office of the UN resident/humanitarian
coordinator in Myanmar, Mr Bishow Parajuli.
Overall, it said, the appeal had attracted $309 million, or
65 percent of the $477 million needed for relief and recovery
“Cyclone Nargis did not only cause tremendous human suffering.
It also took away the tools people need to make a living, and
hence the opportunity to produce food and secure income to their
families,” the statement said.
“It remains a critical need to provide adequate support,
such as restocking of lost assets and re-establishing of livelihood
opportunities, such as livestock, fishing nets and boats in order
for people in the delta to resume economic activity and be active
participants in the longer-term recovery process,” the statement
It follows a UN report issued a day earlier that said food security
was still a major concern in the delta, Myanmar’s main rice-producing
The report by the World Food Program and Food and Agriculture
Organisation said rice production in cyclone-affected areas of
the delta had fallen to half last year’s output.
However, the report said that overall rice production in the
delta had not been seriously affected because of better yields
in unaffected areas.
The report said output in unaffected areas was forecast to be
close to or better than last year. It said because of favourable
weather and the increased use of better rice seeds, output was
expected to top 21 million tonnes, which was 3 percent below the
previous year but 10 percent above the average of the last five
The WFP’s Myanmar representative, Mr Chris Kaye, said
the decline in rice production in the delta meant that many people
would continue to need assistance.
“For many of those affected by cyclone Nargis, who are
engaged in rebuilding their lives and livelihoods, the limited
delta harvest means they will continue to rely on assistance to
meet their food needs,” he was quoted as saying in the report.
The report, based on a survey by the two UN agencies in the
delta last October and November, stressed the need for seeds,
draught animals, hand tractors and fishing equipment.
The call for more funding for the farm sector came as the Tripartite
Core Group, which oversees the relief operation, is preparing
to release a report next week on a recovery plan for the next
three years that seeks funding of $690 million.
The UN says the report, which includes suggestions on how the
international community could further assist cyclone victims,
has been approved by the government and was due to be released
in Yangon on February 9.
The report is also expected to recommend that the TCG, comprising
representatives from the Myanmar government, the Association of
Southeast Asian Nations and the UN, continue its role for three
years after its mandate expires in July.
Meanwhile, international donors have urged the government to
support an extension of the TCG’s mandate and to continue
to allow foreign aid personnel to provide assistance in the delta.
During a visit to Myanmar in late January, Norway’s International
Development Minister, Mr Erik Solheim, highlighted the need for
continued international assistance for cyclone-affected areas.
“The humanitarian relief and early recovery efforts after
cyclone Nargis have been more successful than expected,”
Mr Solheim said after a trip to the delta.
“What is important now is continued and increased access
for humanitarian workers,” he said.
Mr Solheim was accompanied by his Danish counterpart, Ms Ulla
Toernaes, who said a continuation of the TCG’s role would
be essential during the reconstruction phase.
The UN says the two Nordic countries have contributed nearly
$20 million to its cyclone relief activities.