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Myanmar: “The water level rose above my head”

By Naw Phoebe, Save the Children Myanmar

In a crowded sports stadium-turned-evacuation camp in Hpa-An, Myanmar, Win Zaw Oo, just nine days old, sleeps soundly on some floor mats, wrapped in blankets. Three days of continuous rain in late July this year forced Win Zaw Oo’s family to flee their home in the south-eastern state of Kayin as water inundated their neighbourhood and home.

The camp houses some 300 households, or 1449 people. It is crowded, and ventilation is poor. In the spot that Win Zaw Oo’s family are living in, his mother sits beside her child, resting from her childbirth.

Daw San Kyi, Win Zaw Oo’s grandmother, now takes charge of preparing food for her family. She recounts the flooding in her home: “The water level rose above my head. We arrived here four days ago now. I don’t know how long we will be here but I think we have to stay until the water has gone.”

This isn’t the first time the family has been flooded out of their home. Last year Daw San Kyi tells me, they had to stay for 22 days.

An estimated 24,449 people were displaced by the floods. Villages in the townships of Hpa-An, Hlaingbwe, Kawkareik, Kya Inn Seik Kyi and Myawaddy have been affected, and currently 79 IDP evacuation sites house affected families.

Presently, families in the camp are receiving food rations from the state government and drinking water from private donors. Water for other use is drawn from a nearby well, and a few vendors have set up small stores inside the building selling snacks, groceries and vegetables to families. The government has also set up a clinic in the camp equipped with a doctor, some nurses and medicine.

“Each person receives rice (two condensed milk tins’ worth), an egg, and instant noodles per day,” said Daw San Kyi. “Families take turns to cook for themselves. Now, I am waiting for the fire pot to cook meals for my family.” The makeshift cooking space in the camp is shared by all families, and there are only ten latrines for the entire population.

Save the Children is currently running long-term programmes in the five affected townships. This puts us in a good place to respond to the flooding and distribute household kits to the most affected households, and this is what we are planning to do.

Win Zaw Oo may be so tiny she is easy

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