Update from Myanmar!
…I haven’t written for a while, but things are still live and kicking here in Myanmar and activities in the Delta just got busier for the logistics teams!
I have had more time in Yangon over the last few months – it has been interesting to visit suppliers and work more closely with all the programme coordination from here.
One visit to a local printing supplier downtown highlighted the family business orientation of so many traders here, even in the largest city in the country. Traders often work in more than one area – these printers also traded other goods for their customers. I was intrigued that high quality paper was still imported from other countries and not made in Myanmar itself.
I managed to get onto the Helicopter for a field trip to our Delta Offices called Laputta and Thingankone. The World Food Programme Helicopter was quite a bit faster than the over night boat journeys and bumpy car rides that I have experienced on all of my previous trips. As the rains have started the rice paddy fields have started to fill and the Delta looked very wet from the sky.
In Laputta our office is on the river front. During my last visit to Laputta the front was busy with goods being loaded on and off boats from small jetties…this time I was amazed to see not only even more hussle and bussle but also many more market stalls along the river. These were here before Nargis and had been washed away…only now being rebuilt and in full swing! In Thingankone new concrete floors have been made in some warehouses and preparations for livelihood stock such as harvesting tools were all in order.
The monsoon season means that it does rain here most days. In the field it is quite a challenge keeping all stock dry as it is moved on and off boats to our warehouses…I can only imagine how difficult it must have been this time last year after Cyclone Nargis. Putting up a warehouse tent in the rain and transporting bags of rice to the villages must have been logistical brain-teasers to say the least!
A boat ride away from Thingankone is a base where we are doing Water and Sanitation activities from. When we visited the base the team had just got back from training on how to build a slow sand water filter in the villages nearby. The mechanical water treatment plants are not being used anymore since the dry season is over and people are collecting rainwater. The new water filters will be more sustainable and easy for the villages to maintain compared to the mechanical machines used for the first dry season after the cyclone. Even over a year on there are still clean water shortages in the Delta.
The last few weeks have been busy for logistics as the teams have taken over responsibility for all the transport, generators and keeping asset registers. These tasks were under the Administration team previously but there are structural changes happening throughout the teams here as the Emergency and Development work starts to combine. It is an exciting challenge for all the field teams as well as here in Yangon to learn new skills and have more responsibility.