Islamic Relief is building good quality shelters for over 3,400 people in Myanmar left homeless by a powerful and destructive storm in late May

Starting in Sri Lanka as torrential rains, then moving across to Bangladesh and Myanmar as a full-scale cyclone producing sustained winds of 65-70 miles per hour, Cyclone Mora left chaos and devastation in its wake.

In the immediate aftermath of the cyclone, Islamic Relief distributed food to over 14,500 people in Myanmar, as well as 1,050 emergency shelter kits, consisting of tarpaulin, bamboo, binding and water buckets. We also distributed dry food items to thousands of people in Sri Lanka.

Following an assessment in Myanmar to identify early recovery needs, we found that the major concerns were shelter, water and sanitation.

In Myanmar, almost 5,000 houses have been destroyed, with a further 13,595 damaged, and the situation in Rakhine state is especially dire. Hundreds of shelters in the camps housing people displaced by inter-communal conflict – primarily between Buddhists and Muslims – suffered severe damage in the strong winds.

Islamic Relief is now building 77 good quality shelters that will house 3,400 people in Rakhine.

This includes 27 shelters for over 1,000 people in Sittwe camp, where living conditions are particularly poor, and 50 shelters for 2,400 people in nearby camps in coordination with a local partner..

“Homes that were once squalid are now uninhabitable,” says Saba Mahmood, Islamic Relief’s Humanitarian Officer, who visited the camps recently. “The existing shelters were made of flimsy construction materials that came apart during the storm. Now there are 12-13 people cramped in one room because they have lost the roof or walls in other sections of their shelter. We are building new shelters with more robust materials to withstand the region’s tempestuous weather.

“As part of our work, we are also looking to improve the sanitation facilities at the camp. During our visit, we were aghast to find that there were numerous elderly residents defecating inside their own homes because the latrines were pitched so high that they couldn’t access them. These people deserve to live in dignity.”