After the initial phase of an emergency, World Vision looks to what the needs of the community are to determine the next stage of recovery. What’s the best use of the available materials? What are the specific needs of the community? What do community members say are the most important? Today, World Vision is addressing these concerns in Myanmar.
When Cyclone Nargis ripped through Myanmar, it destroyed a road built and paid for by villagers. World Vision has implemented a ‘food for work’ program, helping to rebuild the road while providing food to struggling families.
Back before Cyclone Nargis struck, coconut and rice farmers living a few hours’ boat ride from Pyapon city centre had recognised that improving access to a commercial jetty would enable them to sell their crops for higher prices in bigger markets. One small road could help change the economic future of their village.
Through hard work and determination, the villagers found the money to pay for the road. Building it was a slow process but one that made progress. The road was half completed when Nargis cruelly destroyed it - in what seemed like minutes.
World Vision started a ‘food for work’ program to assist the village. Often introduced after a disaster, ‘food for work’ assists communities that are still struggling to feed their loved ones, often due to a lack of income opportunities. When a villager signs up, he or she takes home pre-determined amounts of rice while they help rebuild roads, bridges and buildings badly needed to strengthen the community.
Community leader Mr Khine says 60% of the people in his village were out of work after the cyclone. “Our people farm rice, coconuts, bananas and flowers,” Mr Khine explains. “The next planting season starts in June so many people are unemployed right now.”
World Vision’s Field Coordinator, Adino, says ”The food for work program is aimed at helping the poorest of the poor...we’ve introduced the program so people can provide for their families until more jobs open up with the coming planting season.”
The brick road is not only a means for economic development after the cyclone, but also an opportunity to provide greater protection for children from neighbouring villages, who presently have to wade across chest-deep rivers to attend school in the morning.
Mr Khine is confident the road will be completed, and hopeful that it will be soon, to help villagers transport and sell grain from the next harvest. Here, with infrastructure in place to support people in their efforts to return to daily working life, the survivors of Cyclone Nargis can take the next step in their recovery.