Heat Tolerant Animals Provide Lifeline for Vulnerable Communities in Dry Zone
When temperatures soared in the already blazing heat of Myanmar’s Dry Zone, Kyaw Htaing was alarmed for the wellbeing of the piglets he was raising. Without any land to his name, and depending on occasional farm work for making a living, these piglets were the ticket to a better life. Kyaw Htaing was determined to raise healthy pigs, and sell them for a profit.
“I received two piglets in February and once they are six months old, I will be selling them. I hope to earn 400,000 kyats from the sale,” said Kyaw Htaing.
The piglets are a special heat resistant breed, provided to landless labourers as part of a project to help people in Myanmar’s Dry Zone adapt to climate change. Kyaw Htaing is required to pay 135,000 kyats to reimburse the cost of the piglets. Not only piglets, but goats, and chicks were provided to a group of five people in Bone Bweit village, in Shwebo township, one of the five townships where the “Addressing Climate Change Risks on Water Resources and Food Security in the Dry Zone of Myanmar” project is being implemented.
Braving the Heat
In late April and early May, it was getting hotter than usual, with temperatures soaring to 45 degrees Celcius.
“I am glad the rains came and cooled the temperatures. I was worried that my piglets will not survive the heat. Even if they did not survive, I would still have had to reimburse the costs,” said Kyaw Htaing, speaking in mid May.
Another member of the livestock group, Daw Win Htaing received two piglets to raise, but one succumbed to heat in March. She will still need to reimburse 135,000 kyats for the two piglets. She hopes to earn 200,000 kyats when she sells the surviving pig.
The members of the livestock group received basic training on how to raise the animals before they received them. They also benefit from the services of a veterinarian, Dr San Win, who provides advice to the villagers on how to look after their animals.
“When the temperatures get really high, the animals can suffer a heat stroke and die from it. I regularly visit the villagers and check on the health of the animals,” he said.
Daw Tin Mar San is part of the same livestock group. She received 30 chicks which would later grow to become egg laying hens. Before the Thingyan festival (in early April), Daw Tin Mar San was getting 15 – 17 eggs every day. By mid May the egg production fell to one or two per day.
“What I have learnt is that when it is too hot, the chickens do not lay as many eggs. This means I earn less. By August, I have to reimburse the cost of the chicks,” she said, noting that egg laying chicks needed a special feed and special care.
Daw Tin Mar San who used to raise ducks before now realises that raising egg laying chickens is different from raising ducks.
- "The Addressing Climate Change Risks on Water Resources and Food Security in the Dry Zone of Myanmar" is the first project in Myanmar to receive funding from the Adaptation Fund.
- The project benefits more than a quarter of a million people in Myanmar's Dry Zone.
- 11,055 villagers are organised into 2,396 groups that raise animals climate resistant animals in the five project townships.
Focus on Landless Villagers
When the “Addressing Climate Change Risks on Water Resources and Food Security in the Dry Zone of Myanmar” project was designed, particular attention was paid to ensure support for the most vulnerable persons in the community.
Households headed by women, and landless people were identified as a vulnerable part of the community.
“In each of the five townships where the project is being implemented we are providing groups of women and men with the opportunity of raising animals. There are 11,055 villagers organised into 2,396 groups raising animals in Shwebo and Monywa townships in Sagaing Region, Myingyan and Nyaung U townships in Mandalay Region, and Chauk township in Magway Region,” said United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Technical Specialist, Karma Lodey Rapten.
The USD 7.9 million, four-year project, is the first in Myanmar to receive funding from the Adaptation Fund. The project which started in 2015 benefits more than a quarter of a million people by making available continuous freshwater during dry seasons, providing skills and tools for climate-resilient agricultural and livestock practices and climate risk information management. It is being implemented by UNDP in partnership with the Dry Zone Greening Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation.