Myanmar: Cyclone Mocha Flash Appeal, May 2023
This multi-sectoral Flash Appeal targets approximately 1.6 million people affected by cyclone Mocha and its aftermath across five areas of Myanmar – Rakhine, Chin, Sagaing, Magway and Kachin. A total of US$333 million is urgently required for this response plan to address needs in areas in all communities affected by the cyclone and its aftermath.
The cyclone and the flooding that followed hit an area of high pre-existing vulnerability, with large numbers of displaced, returned, stateless and crisisaffected people, who were already targeted for support under the existing 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP). Thus, the financial requirement for this Flash Appeal includes some activities originally costed under the 2023 HRP that can now be pivoted to support people affected by the cyclone. It also identifies completely new or scaled-up activities that will support the cyclone response to the existing HRP target populations, as well as costing support to entirely new people with needs as a result of the disaster across all communities.
Communities and humanitarian responders are now in a race against time to implement the response outlined with the monsoon imminent and hundreds of thousands of people either homeless or living in damaged shelters with limited access to clean water.
A dramatic scale-up of funding is imperative to support the activities outlined given the scale of the disaster and the dire existing funding gap for the HRP (10 per cent funded). The day before the cyclone, the Humanitarian Coordinator initiated a $2m Reserve Allocation under the Myanmar Humanitarian Fund to kick-start procurement of supplies and cash responses to affected people. On 18 May, the Emergency Relief Coordinator also approved a $10m allocation under the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) Rapid Response window to support the Humanitarian Country Team to expand operations.
However, much more support is needed to deliver a disaster response at-scale.
This plan outlines immediate responses to be implemented during the initial months after the cyclone. The HCT may decide to revise this appeal once more information becomes available or may choose to fold these activities into a wider HRP revision at a later date.
Context and Needs Overview
Extremely Severe Cyclone Mocha hit Myanmar’s Rakhine with brutal force on 14 May. One of the strongest cyclones ever recorded in Myanmar, the eye made landfall between Cox’s Bazaar and Kyaukpyu township, approaching the coast with maximum sustained winds of around 250 km/h and wind gusts of up to 305 km/h, before continuing inland and impacting communities with heavy rain and winds on 15 May. This appeal addresses needs generated by the cyclone and its aftermath in communities across five states and regions – Rakhine, Chin, Sagaing, Magway and Kachin.
An estimated 7.9 million people live in areas that experienced winds in excess of 90kmph during the cyclone. Of these, 3.4 million faced very destructive winds of more than 120 kmph, placing them at very high risk given the poor shelters in these locations and their pre-existing vulnerabilities.
Heavy rainfall, storm surge and strong winds associated with the cyclone caused widespread damage across affected locations, including flooding in low-lying areas of Rakhine, particularly in and around the state capital, Sittwe, as well as the townships of Kyauktaw, Maungdaw, Pauktaw,
Ponnagyun, and Rathedaung. Almost all buildings in Sittwe and Rathedaung have suffered damage, leaving hundreds of thousands of people either homeless or living in damaged houses. Significant damage has been suffered by displacement camps, where long houses were left in splinters and access bridges have been washed away. Extensive areas of farming land and coastal areas have been affected, with severe losses of assets that are crucial for the agriculture and fishery sectors. The destruction of the local fishing fleet and heavy loss of agricultural inputs will have serious implications on livelihoods and are likely to see the adoption of negative coping strategies in the months ahead.
As the weather system moved inland into the country’s Northwest and Northeast, continuous heavy rain caused flooding in townships in Magway where the Ayeyarwady River overflowed. In Chin, houses were reportedly damaged or destroyed. In Magway and Sagaing, floodwaters reportedly damaged infrastructure and agricultural fields and washed away livestock and personal belongings. Later, in Waingmaw Township in Kachin, shelters were damaged in Shanjai, which is home to more than 1,000 displaced people, as well as in the Maga Yang/Sha It Yang, Hka Shau, and Pajau/Janmai displacement camps.
Significant damage has been reported to public infrastructure in all affected areas, including hospitals, health centres, banks, schools, bridges, and religious buildings. Water systems, sanitation facilities, water supply infrastructure and latrines have also been affected, reducing access to safe drinking water and basic hygiene services, and increasing the risk of outbreaks of water-borne disease.
Although most markets have re-opened, the soaring prices of basic shelter materials needed for rebuilding, including tarpaulins, metal sheeting, and nails, has made this task unaffordable for most affected people in these very impoverished parts of the country. Food costs have also spiked in many locations, putting a strain on households that were already living on the edge of survival. For example, the price of one kilogram of rice in Mrauk-U township has increased from MMK 1,300 ($0.62) before the cyclone to MMK 1,500 ($0.71) one week after the disaster.
Even prior to the cyclone, the affected areas were characterized by heavy humanitarian needs resulting from years of conflict, displacement, statelessness,
COVID-19, and economic instability. This new disaster has now added a devastating new dimension to the humanitarian situation facing people in the country’s west.
Preparedness and early response
The Myanmar Humanitarian Emergency Response Preparedness Plan was activated at the national and sub-national levels ahead of the cyclone making landfall. Humanitarian organisations ramped up their preparedness efforts, pre-positioned personnel and supplies wherever possible, and disseminated safety messages to affected areas.
Since the cyclone hit, humanitarian personnel have been working to gauge the full impact of the disaster on affected people through a series of field missions and early support where they had permission to start distributions particularly of food, non-food items (NFIs), shelter and hygiene items. Based on discussions in Nay Pyi Taw, a detailed two-week distribution plan will soon be shared for approval, outlining further support that is ready to be provided to across all affected communities in Rakhine and Chin. Efforts are also underway to move more supplies to the impact zone from both Ya ngon and various locations outside the country.
The national Natural Disaster Management Committee was activated in Nay Pyi Taw before the cyclone and local authorities carried out evacuations in high-risk areas. In areas under the control of the State Administration Council (SAC), local authorities deployed personnel to start initiating debris clearance, restore communications and begin distributions.
The ASEAN Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA) deployed staff to support the Emergency Operations Centre in Nay Pyi Taw before the cyclone hit. A 14 member ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ERAT) has been deployed to Rakhine to support the response by the Department of Disaster Management (DDM). The first three plane loads of AHA shelter supplies arrived in Myanmar on 21 May and were handed over to DDM for distribution in affected areas. OCHA continues to coordinate closely with AHA on the response.
In areas outside SAC control, various ethnic and resistance groups have been measuring the impact in affected communities and delivering assistance to the extent of their resources and access.
Civil society organizations and religious networks are working to support affected communities.
Communities themselves have also swung into action, clearing debris from blocked roads, and providing shelter to those who have lost their homes.