Stories of Change

Community members unload relief supplies that arrived by boat.

Partnership for flood response in Myanmar

Our team in Myanmar partners with communities near the town of Maubin in the Ayeyarwady River delta. When disaster struck in a different part of the country, though, we joined the relief effort led by our ACT Alliance partners. 

During a two-week period in August, eight feet of floodwaters wreaked havoc in towns along the Zami River in Myanmar’s Karen state. Our ACT Alliance partner, Karen Baptist Convention, responded by coordinating a relief effort for 400 families. CWS joined the response, focusing on 187 people living in Htee Pa Htaw Hto village. In all villages where the KBC-coordinated response took place, families received a month’s supply of staples, including rice, oil, beans, salt and toiletries. This made it easier to cope with the disaster–this time.

Having relocated from another area of the country about 20 years ago, residents of Htee Pa Htaw Hto and nearby villages experience floods yearly. However, 2019 has been particularly challenging as extreme flooding destroyed farmland. August floodwaters damaged rice storage containers that held a year’s supply of rice. Paddy seeds for transplanting next season died as well. Lime tree orchards, rubber plants and sesame fields sustained heavy damage. As a result, there is much agricultural work needed to rebuild the area. But rebuilding is no unknown to families here.

During the last major flood in 2012, A Phoo Saw (grandfather) Oh Khu led recovery efforts. After a long career as a health assistant, he had retired. Then neighbors elected him as their village leader. So, in reflecting on the past, while appreciating CWS and KBC help, he expressed restrained happiness. “At present, we do not worry for our current basic needs because we received aid. I appreciate the support especially during a crisis like this.” He noted his happiness would be absolute once neighboring families received help, too.

Luckily, the rainy season began to taper off in September and there hasn’t been more flooding in the area. Replanting and agriculture activities can begin in earnest. And while the challenge of replacing the rice for replanting looms large, there is good news in the interim; thanks to the coalition who responded to KBC’s call for support, there have been enough supplies to support 245 people total in Htee Pa Htaw Hto.

Southeast Myanmar is far from Maubin. However, the appeal to help KBC in partnership with other members of the ACT Myanmar Forum for Action by Churches Together was one the CWS Myanmar team could not ignore. As we’ve seen time and again around the world, we stand stronger when we stand together.