Eleven years ago today, Myanmar experienced the worst natural disaster in its recorded history as Cyclone Nargis, generating winds of over 200 kph and torrential rainfall, took the lives of some 138,000 people.
The military government of the time declared Irrawaddy, Yangon and Bago regions, along with Mon and Karen states, as disaster areas. The Irrawaddy Delta bore the brunt of the disaster, with over 2 million people affected, including more than 100,000 fatalities.
While the cyclone caused catastrophic destruction, the situation was worsened by the government’s failure to undertake real-time search and rescue operations, and its decision to restrict international aid.
While rehabilitation programs were launched, many Irrawaddy Delta residents left their hometowns to make a living in other parts of the country, as the industry that provided their major livelihood, fishing, was destroyed by the cyclone. More than a decade on, many families are still struggling to put the nightmare behind them.