Donate ▸

Bringing abundance back to the land of temples

Myanmar, October 4, 2012

Share this story:
  • tumblr
  • pinterest
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Benny Manser/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Mrauk U Township was the capital of Myanmar's Rakhine state in ancient times. Today in this land of ornate temples, more than 60% of households don’t have enough food to last throughout the year. Photo: Benny Manser/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Benny Manser/Mercy Corps  </span>
    The region’s irregular rainfall, frequent drought and vulnerability to flooding and cyclones frequently disrupts food production. Meager harvests force people to go entire days without eating; adults sacrifice meals so their children can eat. Photo: Benny Manser/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Benny Manser/Mercy Corps  </span>
    “In the rainy season, we grow beans, but we don’t have enough to eat,” said one local villager who struggles to feed her family. “This is due to a lack of water and the ground is not too good.” Photo: Benny Manser/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Benny Manser/Mercy Corps  </span>
    In 2011, Mercy Corps implemented a food security program here to help almost 9,000 vulnerable farmers and casual laborers. The plan also focused on overall health by improving sanitation and access to clean water. Photo: Benny Manser/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Benny Manser/Mercy Corps  </span>
    We teamed up with a local partner and conducted community meetings and evaluations in 20 villages to assess their food security. In each, we helped the community groups identify and prioritize their own needs. Photo: Benny Manser/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Benny Manser/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Previously, many villagers had been hesitant to ask the government for help for fear of being rejected. Group leaders like program officer Soe San Tun worked to dispel that concern and show villagers how to be their own advocates. Photo: Benny Manser/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Benny Manser/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Hunger is not the only threat here. Poor sanitation puts many at risk for waterborne diseases. In Mg Shwe Kan village, one mother of six children said, “Our toilet is outside in the open.” After learning about her options for help, her family was able to obtain a grant to build a sanitary latrine close to home. Photo: Benny Manser/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Benny Manser/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Farmers are also receiving loans at low interest rates so that they can start up small businesses. U Yin Tun Shwe started a demonstration plot with new vegetables like cucumber, bitter gourd and ladyfingers, which he hopes to sell. Photo: Benny Manser/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Benny Manser/Mercy Corps  </span>
    A larger, regional action plan included building roads to connect villages to markets so people could more easily sell their goods. The construction also provided local villagers with jobs. Photo: Benny Manser/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Benny Manser/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Local villagers working on road renovation projects are paid and have a break from 2pm-6pm. Ma now makes enough money from working on road renovations to invest in her new snack-selling business on the side. Photo: Benny Manser/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Benny Manser/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Daw Oo Win Kyi believes that the road construction has improved her business. She said, “As a vendor, I can go and sell vegetables easily.” Photo: Benny Manser/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Benny Manser/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Like many of these projects, the road construction will help numerous aspects of community life. Mg San Win said, “Farmers and laborers can arrive at work in time and farmers can easily trade crops such as rice.” In addition, children will have a safer walk to the village school, pictured in the background. Photo: Benny Manser/Mercy Corps

Many families in Myanmar’s Northern Rakhine state don’t have enough to eat during the year. Unpredictable weather patterns have plagued small farmers and disrupted their productivity.

In response, Mercy Corps has taken action to not only help vulnerable farmers grow more durable crops, but to address concerns relating to water and sanitation. While working to improve health on an individual level, our teams also focused on strengthening community groups and local infrastructure so the villages will continue to thrive on their own.