The following is taken from a report written by a friend who recently came back from the parts of Burma hit by Cyclone Nargis:
“Arriving in Rangoon after two decades away, it’s sad to see how the country hasn’t changed for the better for most people with the exception of few “well-connected citizens.” Weapons traders, gemtraders, good exporters and drugtraders are the well-to-do in New Burma. Tayza and the likes may be living in 150,000+ square foot castles with 20 cars parked outfront (including 2 humvees, a yellow Lamborghini, a red Ferrari, a black Cadilliac Escalade, a Mercedes S class, amongst many others). Our modest hotel in the central Rangoon witness many street kids, homeless people barely struggling to make it through the day. The pothole-ridden roads of the capital and broken down sidewalks are obvious examples of the nonexistent infrastructure. Justice Building is over taken by trees growing out of it’s clock tower, and the clock is broken. The state of justice from Burma is apparent by looking at the chief justice building. Hotels are given electricity for the illusion of a normalcy for the tourist. Most citizens of Burma rarely experience continuously sustained electricity for more than a few hours every few days.
Strategic coordination amongst UN agencies, international agencies and local NGOs and CBO group seem to be lacking. Due to UN and NGO’s close affiliation with military regime and USDA (kyant-phut), many smaller local CBOs are hesitant to work in ways that would make them well known.
Some villages located close range of Yangon/Laputta, where many NGOs are based out of, seem to get repeated donations while harder to reach areas such as Ngaputaw doesn’t see regular aid.
Distribution of aid is not transparent. Many villagers including monks in the Ngaputaw township is taught to say to the junta leadership “we got rice, we got condensed milk,” even when they didn’t receive the aid nor the aid received was not from the government.
Many companies and government officials are making money from the Nargis related foreign donations. Companies are getting contracts from government/UN/ASEAN body charging $500-600 per hut that they are building in cyclone ravaged areas when we talked to local CBOs that confirm that it should not cost more than $150 per hut. Building of these over-charged huts are done with forced labor. Another community based organization had built 75 huts for $150 each, but was being pushed out by the new rules of SPDC on cracking down the donor sources and by high costs imposed by big NGOs. This group has enough funding to continue to build another a thousand huts, however they are being pushed out slowly with new rules every week.
Clean water is not a problem for cyclone survivors at the moment. Due to heavy rain, rain water is the most efficient clean water accessible to most people. It will be something to be of concern when the rainy season is over.
For families where head of household is a single mother, there are no financial assistance coming to them to restart their lives. Farming and fishing supplies provided by NGOs is not enough to go around at the moment that providing some startup seed money to these families for a small business of paan stand or small home made food stand, etc….”
Working with small community based organizations, they were able to deliver resources donated to purchase food for 13 villages, provide a water reservoir that 13 villages can access, pay costs for medicine and transportation for medical teams for four weeks, provide roofing for a monastery/community center, and pay the salary for a teacher for 9 months in a community where there would otherwise be no school.
To those who have donated to World Aid, Inc., (or any other group helping with needs in Burma!), thank you. Your donations do make a difference to those needing some help.