Seventeen Delta Townships Still Flooded

By Salai Thant Zin 14 August 2015

PATHEIN — Seventeen townships across the Irrawaddy Delta are still flooded in the wake of the August deluge, with the divisional government estimating that damage to crops, homes and businesses exceeds 18 billion kyats (US$15.4 million).

More than 400,000 people in Irrawaddy Division alone have now been affected by the floods, according to government officials in Pathein. Townships across Pathein, Hinthada and Maubin districts remain inundated.

“We are monitoring the water levels of rivers and creeks in Irrawaddy Division around the clock and making sure embankments are OK. We are also sending relief supplies and rice reserves to flood-hit areas,” said Khin Maung Lay, a divisional government spokesman.

At least 37 relief camps have opened up in Thabaung, one of the hardest hit townships in the delta.

“There are over 7,000 people taking shelter at the camps, while more than 4,000 others have had to build scaffolds inside their homes and live on them,” Thabaung Township administrator Soe Min Htut told The Irrawaddy.

Floods have inundated more than 260,000 acres of rice paddy fields, and over 1,200 schools have been closed indefinitely.

“In the face of the flood crisis, the division government has exempted its ministers from going to their offices and assigned them to supervise relief works in their home areas,” said Khin Maung Lay. “The most important thing is to make sure there are no casualties, the second is to make sure there is no more losses of property and the third is to make immediate relief responses in flooded areas.”

Independent relief workers claimed that the government failed to take prompt actions to handle flood crisis.

On a visit to Irrawaddy Division on Aug. 9, President Thein Sein announced he would donate 300 million kyats ($257,000) from his presidential fund for relief and rehabilitation works, in addition to 10,000 gallons of diesel and 10,000 gallons of petrol.

Members of Burma’s opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) said that government aid had not gone far enough to assist those in need.

“I haven’t seen any helpful assistance by the government to flood victims,” said Thein Tun, chairman of the Thabaung NLD office. “The departments are just transporting the donors to flood-ravaged areas. People have to live on scaffolds as soon as floods come in and if they cannot do that, they have to stay at monasteries.”

Despite the fact that floods are receding in most areas, water remains above the danger level in 10 townships, according to the divisional Department of Meteorology and Hydrology.