In the past year, humanitarian assistance to Burma has been primarily focused on victims of Cyclone Nargis, which struck the Irrawaddy delta on May 2, 2008. Though the initial delivery of assistance was hampered by government obstruction, the aid programs that have since developed in the delta have benefited from an ease of operations unseen in other parts of the country. Relief work in the delta is progressing smoothly, but attempts to expand access to the rest of the country are struggling. Nonetheless, to capitalize on the existing gains, the U.S. should provide significant funding for programs throughout the country.
Operations Inside the Delta
Since June 2008, international aid organizations have expanded their operations to an unprecedented level inside Burma in order to respond to emergency needs created by the cyclone. Because of the small number of agencies working in the country prior to the storm, many that did not have emergency experience have modified their operations to provide relief. These changes, combined with the self-reliance of delta residents, have been largely successful in meeting the immediate needs of cyclone victims.
Agricultural production has revived, temporary housing has met the shelter needs of most residents, and income generation programs are beginning to address the economic needs of cyclone victims. In addition, the number of international NGOs in the country has doubled from 40 to almost 80, greatly increasing the capacity to support longer-term stabilization activities. Similarly, there has been a tremendous growth in the formation of local NGOs continue