15 July 2020 - Source: Global New Light of Myanmar - With flood season on the horizon, local authorities are preparing to face the dual challenge of COVID-19 and floods in their respective regions.
The swollen Ayeyawady River inaundated low-lying areas in Myitkyina and Waigmaw in Kachin State on 11 July, forcing the people in these areas to shelter at relief camps.
The situation has rang alarm bells and brough into focus the need to carry out flood preparedness in lower Myanmar which experiences floods every year.
We are confident that we can reduce the impacts from the dual challenges: floods and COVID-19 through our well preparedness.
Every year, floods have forced the displaced people to seek refuge in makeship shelters and monasteries where social distancing is practically impossible.
If you are living in flood-prone areas, preparedness for both floods and COVID-19 is worth considering. There is a risk of COVID-19 spreading in crowded areas.
Our preparations and preparedness for floods during the period of the COVID-19 crisis must take into account the quarantine facilities, along with aid for Stay-At-Home programmes, prevention and containment measures against the COVID-19 disease at shelters, and more.
Besides, readiness for providing daily access to clean water for the displaced people and providing the displced people with information on safety measures against the novel coronavirus are worth considering for tackling the dual challenges.
If the floods occur, we would face the daunting task of managing the floods with the complexities of COVID-19. However, we must continue to diligently make preparations for these possible situations, which are predictable.
It is worth noting that the current pandemic is changing the way we do business, and managing a possible flood will be no exception,
To address the risks of coronavirus in the camps, we would like to urge civil societies, local NGOs and UN agencies to stand in solidarity with the people in IDP camps and local authorities bracing for the possibility of rising waters amid the COVID-19 crisis.
It is clear that all of us can only be safe if we ensure that everyone is kept safe, because COVID-19 disease does not discriminate.
We must make every effort to ensure that the flood season does not exacerbate the current spreading of the COVID-19 virus throughout the country.