Norwegian Development and Environment Minister, Mr. Erik Solheim, this week visited villages being rehabilitated by UN-HABITAT and its partners following the devastation caused by a cyclone two years ago.
Mr. Solheim was accompanied to the Ayeyarwady Delta and Southern Yangon Divisions by the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Bishow Parajuli to see at first hand the impact of disaster risk reduction, and shelter and environment work conducted by UN-HABITAT and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in three villages in Kungyangon and Kyaiklat townships.
Both townships were severely hit by cyclone Nargis. It struck the country on 2 and 3 May 2008, causing wide-spread devastation in the Ayeyarwady Delta and Southern Yangon Divisions claiming an estimated 140,000 lives, and leaving an estimated 2.4 million survivors people faced with flattened homes and crops, damaged lives, and loss of their livelihoods.
Two years after the destruction, many survivors have been able to rebuild their lives and move towards recovery. Villagers in Myit Tan told the Mr. Solheim how they had benefited from assistance in the form of microcredit programmes, disaster risk reduction training and infrastructure and forestry projects.
“Norway is aware of the suffering that you have all experienced. We cannot bring back the dead, but we can do our best to support the living and move towards full recovery for the many people affected by the cyclone,” said Mr. Solheim told them.
“We are here to listen to your stories and get a better understanding of needs and challenges for the future,” said Mr. Solheim, who was later scheduled to meet government and humanitarian officials. He last visited Myanmar in January 2009.
Mr. Parajuli said the cyclone victims in Mynamar would still be rebuilding their lives for years to come: “People we met were still in the process of recovering and are still vulnerable. Further help in housing, school reconstruction and activities that create jobs were some of the needs expressed by the communities. Norway and several other donors have contributed generously to the relief and early recovery."