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Friday, August 26, 2016

Cash grants an effective way to help in the aftermath of a disaster

In early August 2015, Cyclone Komen triggered severe floods and landslides across 12 states and regions in Myanmar, affecting more than 300,000 people.

More than 1 million acres of farmland was submerged, resulting in food scarcity, loss of livelihoods, destroyed latrine facilities, and contaminated drinking water in affected communities.

In response to the devastation, HOPE International Development Agency (HOPE) collaborated with a long-term partner in Myanmar, Metta Development Organization (Metta), to meet some of the most urgent needs in communities affected by the floods.

In the aftermath of the floods, restoration of latrines was paramount. Without proper latrine facilities, disease spreads quickly, and with severe consequences, as water sources become contaminated.

With HOPE’s support, Metta was able to respond to urgent requests from community leaders in Tamu Township to help construct 142 latrines to replace the ones destroyed by the cyclone. The newly constructed latrines contributed to ensuring the good health and sanitation of 236 families and 2 schools within 4 villages of Tamu Township.

Helping people restore their means of earning a living was another top priority in the crisis response. To do this, HOPE offered small cash grants to families whose livelihoods had been taken by the cyclone. Cash grants are an effective means of support for people affected by natural disasters. The grants maintain dignity and choice for families, as well as support local economies.

With HOPE’s support, 314 families received cash grants ranging from $60 to $150 CAD, enabling them to move out of “survival mode” and take steps to restore their livelihoods. In Tamu Township, families used the grants to establish small businesses raising pigs, or selling fruit and vegetables.

In the agricultural communities of Yay Nan Chaung Township, located on the banks of the Ayeyarwaddy River, families were devastated by the destruction of property and loss of crops and seeds. The main livelihood activity in these communities is agriculture. Families used the cash grants to cover costs related to re-establishing agricultural activities, including rehabilitating soil damaged by flooding and preparing it for cultivation, obtaining seeds, and labour. Families who received grants are now successfully cultivating onions, watercress, chili, and mustard, among other crops.

A year after Cyclone Komen, families living in flood-affected areas are healthier, stronger and more able to care for their own needs, thanks to the joint effort between HOPE, our partner Metta, and the families themselves. With a restored means of earning a living, families are once again providing for themselves, and the new latrines are helping ensure families and their communities stay healthy.