Building safer, more resilient communities in Myanmar

Desiree Buitenbos | 10 months ago | « back

When a disaster strikes, preparedness can be the difference between life and death.

That’s why Plan International emphasizes disaster risk management training in many of the countries where we work. With the right emergency response skills, countless lives can be saved and communities can mitigate the shock natural disasters often cause children and their families.

Within the past year, the small Southeast Asian country of Myanmar has experienced the devastating effects of Cyclone Komen, and a series of unseasonal weather phenomena brought on by the strongest El Nino on record. And now, experts predict that the coming La Nina will bring strong winds and rains to regions already facing food and water shortages.

To mitigate the impending risk and create a safer future for families in Myanmar, Plan International is working with communities to help them become more resilient to the impact of changing weather patterns, which can cause floods and disrupt food supplies. Part of this program includes training children to become risk management leaders.

Two girls walk past destroyed rice paddies

Widespread flooding caused by Cyclone Komen affected nearly one million people and destroyed 1.2 million acres of rice fields.

Children in charge of saving lives

Soe Min Htun is one of 1,000 students currently participating in Plan International’s School Disaster Management Committees across the Rakhine State – a region in Myanmar frequently affected by natural disasters. These student-led committees are responsible for raising an alarm if disaster strikes or if one is on the horizon.

“When there’s a disaster, we ring a bell three times and tell people to evacuate using the megaphone,” says Soe Min Htun, adding that his school is ready if floods occur.

“We have a school evacuation plan and we know if a flood happens we need to move to the monastery, which is located on higher ground. We also have to help people with a disability to get to safety, as they can’t move as fast as other people.”

group of students carrying a stretcher

Students are taught first aid as part of their evacuation training

Along with first aid and search and rescue training, Soe Min Htun and his classmates are also learning how to cultivate their own vegetable garden and nursery which will mitigate the impact of food shortages – especially since the location of the Rakhine State makes it susceptible to the effects of climate change.

“After joining the School Disaster Management Committee, we understand more about climate change adaptation and how we can mitigate it in our community.”

group of students smiling in nursery

Soe Min Htun (centre) and his classmates have learned how to grow vegetables and maintain their school nursery

Safer, more resilient communities for all

Thanks to your generous donations, Plan International has established 70 School Disaster Management Committees across the Rakhine State. These committees have helped 1,000 children learn to identify threats to their safety, mitigate risks during a disaster, and boost resilience after a disaster strikes.

“We are ready if a disaster occurs,” says Soe Min Htun, adding that committee members are encouraged to pass along their life-saving emergency training to peers and family members.

children with evacuation map


You can help save lives too

Plan International has the experience and infrastructure to respond quickly in times of crisis. By supporting our Emergency Fund, you are helping us save lives and provide safe spaces, water, food, shelter and support to children affected by such disasters as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, famine or conflict.

Help children in emergencies!

Desiree Buitenbos | 10 months ago | « back

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