Emergency response to COVID-19 has impacted internal migrants in Shwe Pyi Thar Township

Published: Sep 26, 2022 Reading time: 4 minutes
Emergency response to COVID-19 has impacted internal migrants in Shwe Pyi Thar Township
© CDA

The global COVID-19 pandemic and political instability have negatively impacted the people of Myanmar in many aspects, especially internal migrant workers and their families who are vulnerable during this hard time. The Shwe Pyi Thar township has been more susceptible to labor exploitation and poor health and nutritional conditions.

To support the COVID-19 emergency humanitarian response, People in Need (PIN), Helvetas Myanmar, and four consortium partners: Community Development Association (CDA), Medical Action Myanmar (MAM), Solidarity Trade Union Myanmar (STUM), and Myanmar Private TVET Association (MPTA) provided cash and food-based assistance to migrant workers and vulnerable households in Shwe Pyi Thar township between April 2021 and March 2022.

Aimed to reduce the vulnerabilities of internal migrants and fulfil their basic needs, PIN and our consortium partners targeted the most vulnerable people based on the circumstances, which included vulnerable households of women-headed families, pregnant and lactating women, women with children under five years, and their families. We also considered dismissed workers and workers who were not fully paid.

To cover the challenges of financial problems during the pandemic and political instability in the region, Ma Nwe Nwe Htun, PIN’s consortium coordinator for the Aye Chan Thaw Ein project, explains, “with the consortium partners approaches, PIN, in collaboration with Helvetas Myanmar provided emergency assistance to migrant workers and vulnerable families in Shwe Pyi Thar township. We distributed cash and food-based assistance from April 2021 to March 2022. We faced many challenges during the implementation process; however, we reached 4,470 beneficiaries with 500 food packages and 262.2 million kyats for this assistance.”

A total of 500 vulnerable households received food packages, including fifteen kg of fortified rice, two litres of vegetable oil, 1.6 kg of potatoes, 500 g of iodised salt, 1.6 kg of chickpeas, 1.6 kg of onions, three pieces of soap and 15,000 kyats of cash assistance.

Ko Win Htut Thein, a Project Manager with the group Community Development Association (CDA), expressed his gratitude to PIN and LIFT for funding the provision of cash and food-based assistance at the community level. “With this emergency response, CDA targeted women-headed households in wards 1, 21, 23 and 24 in Shwe Pyi Thar township through the provision of cash and food packages. Women and elderly people are the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 and politically instability situation. Some of them find it hard to get a job during the socio-economic instability because of the factory closures and age limitations.”

He added, “we faced many challenges during the pandemic. One of them was getting access to the targeted populations due to restrictions by the local authorities and the Ministry of Health. However, our CDA team and local authorities supported us in many ways in implementing our activities. In total, CDA provided 500 vulnerable households with food packages and 300 households with cash assistance during this hard time.”

Daw Aye Nyein, a 65-year-old, who received cash and food-based assistance under the Aye Chan Thaw Ein project, says. “Thanks to CDA and its donors for providing us with food and cash assistance. With this support, we can go for two or three weeks without considering our income. I have eight family members, most of whom have had no permanent jobs or incomes since the second wave of COVID-19. I save the money for use only for emergency family matters.”

Despite the pandemic and political turmoil that hit the country, dismissed workers and workers who were not fully paid must face various challenges with their families and day-to-day lives. MPTA and STUM provided cash assistance to 2,760 migrants, especially dismissed workers and their families, to fulfil their basic needs and rental fees for their accommodation. Otherwise, money was allocated to accessing healthcare services and medicines for family members needing medical attention.

The economic consequences of COVID-19 and factory closures have intensely affected migrant workers and their families. Medical Action Myanmar (MAM) promoted and facilitated access to healthcare services and other related activities of nutrition, childcare, and good hygiene practices with its Health Educators (HE) under the ACTE project. In addition, MAM provided COVID-19 emergency assistance to 910 pregnant and lactating women and women with children under five years with cash assistance.

Ma Win Pa Pa (*name changed), living in Shwe Pyi Thar township with four family members, says, “I am a mother of an 11-month-old boy with lower limb deformities in severe conditions. MAM and its Health Educators team helped us by providing free healthcare services for my son and transferred him to the hospital for further treatment. And also, I received 50,000 kyats as emergency response assistance. I used the money for my child’s medication and bought nutritious foods to feed my son. I am thankful to ACTE project and MAM for this support during the COVID-19 pandemic. I wish we could also get more financial support in the future.”

The Aye Chan Thaw Ein project has had an important role in empowering labour migrants and aiming to reduce the vulnerabilities of internal migrants and sustainable livelihoods of poor households by helping people to reach their full economic potential, with financial support from Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT).

Author: Sone AyePyae, Communication officer for Myanmar

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