It has been two months since Cyclone Nargis, which struck Myanmar on May 2, devastating entire communities and killing thousands and destroying the lives of thousands more. Though eight weeks have passed, the needs facing survivors remain critical.
While the disaster has dropped from the media headlines, the suffering of those who survived has not. Thousands of people in the worst affected Irrawaddy Delta area continue to struggle with day-to-day survival and there is a significant shortage of adequate aid and assistance in many areas.
As the people of Myanmar attempt to rebuild their lives and communities, MSF is clear that an urgent need for basic aid, including food, water, shelter and medical supplies, will continue. The delivery of aid in Myanmar remains vitally important.
MSF now has full access to people in the Delta region and over the past weeks MSF teams on the ground have significantly increased their emergency activities and medical coverage to reach survivors who had still not received adequate levels of aid.
MSF teams are working to reach up to 350,000 people with emergency aid in the Delta area. MSF is running both mobile and fixed clinics to reach the greatest numbers of people in the area.
Since the start of its emergency response two months ago, MSF has reached more than 460,000 people through its emergency aid programme, delivered 939 tons of medical and relief supplies and carried out more than 30,000 medical consultations.
CHALLENGES IN THE DELTA
WEATHER: Not only are the current rains a major threat to the health of the population, but are also hinder access to the most isolated communities in the Delta. The rains are very heavy and last for one to two hours. This rain means the survivors have increased exposure to disease because of the damp and cold. In addition, it makes it difficult for people to go about their daily activities - such as farming or fishing - in order to make a living.
During the monsoon season, there are always tropical storms. However, since the cyclone, people have become anxious about bad weather. Boatmen, needed to help carry the MSF supplies and teams to remote areas, often refuse to go out on aid deliveries when weather is bad, fearful that there is another cyclone on the way. This hinders the speed with which MSF can get vital aid to survivors that need it.
LOGISTICS: The scale of this emergency operation is considerable because the Delta is such a large area with so many villages scattered around. A complicated and time-consuming system of large trucks, big boats and small boats are still required to get relief supplies and medical aid to communities in isolated areas.
To access people you have to make your way through a labyrinth of waterways and, once at the destination, many jetties have been destroyed. In certain areas, MSF staff push through thick expanses of mud to access communities. Other areas can only be accessed by walking six hours through the mountains. Logistically it is very difficult to get adequate medical aid and relief supplies into such areas.