We used to get a good price
for our fish in the local market, says U Thin Nu, the
44-year old leader of Mya Yar Kone village, a community of
almost 300 people in Myanmars Ayeyarwady delta. I
would like to see regular business come back.
Almost four months after Cyclone Nargis, economic
life is at a standstill in Mya Yar Kone. The village, which
depended for most of its livelihoods on catching fish and
crabs and sending them to the township centre of Labutta,
is still struggling with the after-affects of the storm.
These communities are now well covered
in terms of shelter and emergency relief, said U Htun
Tin, UNDP Township Coordinator in Labutta. But reviving
livelihoods has been more of a challenge.
UNDP staff from Labutta visited Mya Yar Kone
on 24 August to assess the scope of the problem and to discuss
with villagers the best ways the agency could help them revive
local economic life.
UNDP has been actively supporting the village
since soon after the cyclone. Grants have been given to farmers
to hire casual labour so they can plant their crops on time.
Twenty-four households qualified for shelter assistance,
and the entire community has received grants to clean up common
infrastructure such as village ponds.
Now the challenge is to give the community members the support
they need to get long-term income-generating activities off
Grants have also been provided to fishing families for boats
and nets. And UNDP recently introduced the concept of Self-Reliance
Groups (SRGs) to the village.
These groups, which have been successful in creating sustainable
livelihoods in other parts of Myanmar, allow members to start
up small-scale business activities while building up a common
Still, Mya Yar Kone has a long way to go before it is fully
back on its feet. U Than Swe, at 81 the oldest man in the
village, remembers a time when boats from the community regularly
shuttled down the river to Labutta, full of fresh fish and
Now, we need help, he said. We lost almost
everything. We need boats and we need nets.
And one other thing, he added: Can you help us make
our crabs bigger?