Responding to Cyclone Komen in Burma-Myanmar

Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting the relief efforts of the Church of the Province of Myanmar (CPM) in response to widespread flooding caused by heavy monsoons and Cyclone Komen, which swept through the region on July 30. CPM is providing relief through local teams in six dioceses, and plans to support recovery work as the flooding subsides.

Episcopal Relief & Development Press Release

August 13, 2015

Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting the relief efforts of the Church of the Province of Myanmar (CPM) in response to widespread flooding caused by heavy monsoons and Cyclone Komen, which swept through the region on July 30.  The rains that began on July 16 caused landslides in hilly areas and floods throughout much of the country, which worsened as water flowed out of the mountains and reservoirs were opened to prevent dams from breaking. 

According to UN OCHA, as of August 11, more than 1 million people have been affected and over 240,000 households are displaced.  Approximately 687,000 acres (1,100 square miles) of farmland have been damaged, and special equipment is needed to remove water, mud and sand from fields so they can be replanted in order to prevent food shortages.

On August 1, CPM organized a Provincial Relief Committee to coordinate an immediate response in the severely impacted areas of the dioceses of Hpaan, Sittwe, Toungoo, Mandalay, Myitkyina and Yangon, providing drinking water, water purification tablets, one month’s basic food supplies and medicine for 10,000 people staying in shelters or in the upper levels of their homes.

“The flooding in Myanmar at present is spreading speedily and it is difficult for the Provincial staff to travel to all the affected areas. Therefore, we encourage the dioceses to form their local relief team for the implementation of the relief work,” said CPM’s emergency appeal.  “According to our information, there are many teams supporting the flood victims.  CPM has planned to support the victims not only the emergency relief but also for the recovery and rehabilitation support after the emergency work.”

CPM reports that all six dioceses involved in the relief efforts are gathering information on impacted communities using the assessment form from the Pastors and Disasters toolkit, published by Episcopal Relief & Development and a group of international partners in late 2014.  Based on these findings, CPM will determine how to continue with the recovery phase of its response, which includes rehabilitating homes, replanting crops and repairing or improving local water and sanitation systems.

“Our partners in Myanmar are relying on local resources and expertise to the greatest extent possible, for example in purchasing rice for the relief distributions, not only because transportation is difficult now but also to support the local economy,” said Nagulan Nesiah, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Program Officer for Disaster Response and Risk Reduction.  “Later, when it becomes possible to begin rebuilding homes, they will work with a local engineer to design structures that will be more storm resistant in the future.  This asset-based approach is integral to building community resilience, and is a key feature of the Pastors and Disasters toolkit.”

CPM has been organizing and promoting development work in six dioceses for the past ten years, in partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development and others.  Episcopal Relief & Development provides support and technical assistance for programs that alleviate hunger through climate-smart agriculture and create economic opportunities through micro-finance and vocational training.

Please continue to pray for those coping with the worsening floods in Burma-Myanmar.  To support Episcopal Relief & Development’s response after emergencies like Cyclone Komen, please donate to the Disaster Response Fund.

Episcopal Relief & Development works with more than 3 million people in nearly 40 countries worldwide to overcome poverty, hunger and disease through multi-sector programs that utilize local resources and expertise. An independent 501(c)(3) organization, Episcopal Relief & Development works closely with Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners to help communities rebuild after disasters and develop long-term strategies to create a thriving future. In 2014-15, the organization joins Episcopalians and friends in celebrating 75 Years of Healing a Hurting World.

Flooding Cyclone
Flooding Cyclone
Images courtesy of the Church of the Province of Myanmar

Episcopal Relief & Development Web StatementAugust 5, 2015

Episcopal Relief & Development is in contact with the Church of the Province of Myanmar following Cyclone Komen, which made landfall in Bangladesh on July 30 and swept through four countries during the following days.  Heavy monsoon rains in Burma-Myanmar during the month of July caused landslides and flooding, which have now been compounded by rain from Cyclone Komen and the controlled release of water from reservoirs in order to prevent dams from breaking.  The scale of the disaster is expected to increase as rainwater flows out of the mountain regions and collects in low-lying areas not previously impacted by the storm. 

To date, the widespread flooding has displaced an estimated 217,000 people and made it difficult for emergency workers to reach affected areas.  Longer-term concerns include the loss of homes and the disruption of local food supply due to the flooding of up to 1 million acres of farmland.

“My dear brothers and sisters from Anglican Communion,” said The Most Rev. Stephen Than Myint Oo, Primate of the Church of the Province of Myanmar, “please pray for Myanmar and Province of Myanmar which is badly affected by the heavy flood. Within two weeks the flood will cover almost all states and divisions in Myanmar. This flood reminds me of the catastrophe effected by Cyclone Nargis in 2008. We need your prayers and support.”

On August 1, the Church of Myanmar formed a Provincial Relief Committee to assess needs and develop a response plan.  Churches in the impacted areas are providing bags of rice to those in need, and provincial activities in the dioceses of Sittwe, Mandalay and Myitkyina will include food, clean water and medical supplies as well.

“The Church of Myanmar was very involved in the creation and testing of the ‘Pastors and Disasters’ toolkit for disaster management, and they are utilizing those materials in the development of their response to Cyclone Komen,” said Nagulan Nesiah, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Program Officer for Disaster Response and Risk Reduction.  “Please pray for our partners there as they undertake the assessment and rapid relief work that is necessary to limit the scope of this disaster.”

Prayer for Preparedness and Response

O God, our times are in your hand.  In the midst of uncertainty lead us by your never-failing grace as we seek to be agents of healing and hope.  Walk with us through difficult times; watch over us in danger; and give to us a spirit of love and compassion for those who suffer and mourn.  And finally remind us that you have promised never to leave us so that even in the valley of the shadow of death your love may be felt, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN.

— The Rev. Lyndon Harris, from the Episcopal Diocese of New York disaster preparedness plan

To enable Episcopal Relief & Development to respond to disasters like Cyclone Komen in Burma-Myanmar, please donate to the Disaster Response Fund.