LONDON, Sept 3 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Floods in Myanmar caused by heavy monsoon rains and a cyclone have destroyed crops and killed livestock and will cause food shortages if aid is not provided, though funding so far is inadequate, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said.
Some 1.6 million people have been affected and more than 100 killed since June, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.
Cyclone Komen, which hit Myanmar at the end of July, worsened the damage caused by the unusually heavy monsoon rains, and floodwaters have inundated a total of 1.4 million acres of farmland, the FAO said on Thursday.
The floods and landslides across the country have destroyed 972,000 acres of standing crops and 36,000 acres of fish and shrimp ponds, and drowned 20,000 cattle, it said.
“Now that the water is receding, we need to act swiftly to help rural communities get back on their feet, providing them with seeds, equipment and other support they need”, Bui Thi Lan, the FAO representative in Myanmar, said in a statement.
Twelve of Myanmar’s 14 provinces have been affected by the flooding, and 385,000 households have been internally displaced.
Relief efforts have been hindered by damage to vital infrastructure such as bridges, roads and railways.
The reformist government has responded to the crisis much more swiftly than the preceding military government, which delayed international aid efforts following the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis in 2008.
The FAO said it aimed to provide rice and other winter crops to be planted at the start of the dry season in October, and planned to help farmers keep their cattle alive and rebuild infrastructure.
But Lan said U.N. agencies were reporting inadequate funding for the crisis and this was making their work difficult.
“It is stunning that this emergency is widely being underestimated by global media and international donors,” she said.
So far $24 million has been provided for the flood response, according to the Financial Tracking Service, which estimates $75.5 million will be needed to address the needs of over 580,000 people in the next five months.
Four of the worst hit provinces have also experienced ethnic tension since 2012, resulting in 660,000 people being internally displaced and therefore more vulnerable to the weather. (Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, editing by Tim Pearce. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)