Zaw Tint is the Livelihoods Programme Coordinator for the Myanmar Red Cross Society in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state.

He has overseen a Red Cross livelihoods programme to distribute cash grants to more than 3000 people in communities affected by flooding, cyclical violence and population movement, including in the villages of Kyauk Tan Chay, Min Hla and Myint Nar.

“The aim of the programme was to support flood affected communities in areas that have been impacted by cyclical violence and population movement, by boosting people’s livelihoods.

We coordinated with the government to select villages that were most in need.

In each village a committee was formed of community members to help manage the process. We shared the criteria for receiving the grants, and community members and the village committees worked together to choose who would receive the money.

Priority consideration was given to female headed households, people with young babies, older people and people with disabilities.

We then trained the people who had been selected to make a business proposal, so they could put together a plan of what they wanted to do with the grant; how much they would need, what their expenditure and profit would be.

A final Household Economic Security assessment was carried out of the households who had put forward business proposals.

By combining the results of the assessment and the evaluation of the business plans, a final list of people to receive the grants was drawn up and publicly displayed in the village.

After the list had been on display for a couple of weeks, we then had a community meeting and feedback session. There were very few complaints from people, mostly they were happy about the process that had been followed, and after that we were able to go ahead with distributing the grants.

Most of the proposals were to support weaving, agriculture and livestock – including rice and vegetable farming and the rearing of chickens and oxen – and small grocery businesses.  One year on from the grants being distributed, we think we have seen pretty good success.  The ox farming has been particularly successful, with the small calves people bought a year ago now grown up and starting to produce young of their own. The weaving has been successful too with one lady saying she makes about US$100 profit per month now.

Most of the businesses we supported are in a stable condition, but some are continuing to expand with people buying additional weaving machines. Those who have been successful are able to use the additional money they are making to buy enough food and to cover living costs for their families. The additional earnings have also enabled people to pay off debts so they can continue their livelihoods without these hanging over them.”