It has now been more than seven months since torrential rains swept Myanmar, causing severe floods in 12 out of 14 states in July/August 2015.
The flooding destroyed the homes and businesses of thousands in Kalay Township, where ZMF’s microfinance operations are based. Because ZMF works with the poorest members of this community, many of its clients were among the worst affected.
Thanks to those who contributed to ADC’s emergency Givealittle appeal, ZMF staff were well-placed to respond to immediate needs once waters had receded. Care packages containing clothes, rice, cooking oil and other basic necessities were provided to 650 households.
In addition, cash grants were made to 76 families that had lost or suffered significant damage to their homes or businesses.
Andrew Colgan and Zac Colborne’s visit in February this year gave them an opportunity to observe the recovery to date and witness firsthand the remarkable optimism and determination of the people and communities with which ZMF works.
Visible “tide marks” on buildings, sometimes up to eight metres above their heads, provided an eerie indicator of the sheer volume of water that had engulfed the outlying areas of Kalaymyo, especially in Pyinta Village.
We met with a number of clients whose businesses were affected by the flooding, including Myint Za Ni Phu, who runs a home shop and roadside petrol stand together with her sister and parents.
Fortunately, as the floodwaters rose Phu and her family were able to hire a small boat to ferry the stock from their store and some of their valuables to higher ground. Although they lost their house and many of their belongings, they were still able to supply others in the area with essentials like food, candles, washing powder and petrol.
They have also been able to rebuild their home with salvaged materials and the assistance of a government grant scheme.
Phu is currently applying for a job as a public education clerk, and if she is successful she hopes to be able to put some of her income into further expansion of the family business.
The effects of the flooding are still being felt, but despite this, most clients have rebuilt their businesses and started making loan repayments once more. One hundred and eight loans remain “impaired” following the flooding, however staff are confident that a majority of these will ultimately be repaid once the business are back on their feet.
ZMF and their clients remain very grateful to the ADC community for its support at the time of the flooding and during the challenging aftermath.