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Cyclone survivors still struggling to rebuild

world Updated: Apr 30, 2009 23:48 IST
Aung Hla Tun
Aung Hla Tun
Reuters
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A year after Cyclone Nargis battered army-ruled Myanmar, killing nearly 140,000 people, paddy fields remain bare and tens of thousands of survivors live in makeshift shelters.

“Everybody lives on food handouts and most of us don’t have decent shelter or a job,” Ba Thin, 72, said, pointing to the bamboo, thatch and tarpaulin huts lining the road through his village near Bogalay, an area devastated by the May 2-3 storm.

Around Da Nyin Phyu village, where only 100 of its 800 residents survived, paddy fields have yet to fully recover from the 4 metre wall of water surged through the fertile Irrawaddy Delta. Ba Thin blamed the salinated soil for ruining the main rice crop in the area, leaving farmers with crippling debts. “Without help, almost all of us will not be able to grow anything in the coming crop season,” he said.

“The biggest problem for the people is they haven’t been able to maintain an income flow,” Chris Kaye, country director for the World Food Programme, said.

Aid groups estimate at least 500,000 survivors, including 200,000 children, are still living in makeshift shelters.