Upgrade cyclone shelters for minimizing loss of life and property

As THE monsoon season approaches in Myanmar, it brings with it strong winds, storms, and squalls, necessitating safe shelters for the population during these disaster periods. To address this need, 121 cyclone shelters have been constructed in the Ayeyawady Region, capable of accommodating over 6,000 residents during emergencies. This initiative gained momentum following the devastating impact of Cyclone Nargis in 2008, which highlighted the critical need for such facilities.


In the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis, which severely affected parts of lower Myanmar, both government bodies and various or­ganizations, including charities and well-wishers, have played pivotal roles in establishing cyclone shelters. These shelters are designed for dual purposes. Under normal circumstances, they serve as venues for social, health, and religious activities. However, in the event of a cyclone, these buildings transform into vital safe havens for residents, sig­nificantly reducing the risk of loss of life and property.


Cyclone shelters are es­sential for residents, particu­larly those living in valleys and plains, where the impact of storms can be devastating. During fair weather, these structures are utilized as schools and community cen­tres, maximizing their utility as public buildings. The dual functionality ensures that the shelters are well-integrated into the daily lives of the com­munity while also being ready for emergencies.


The sudden onset of storms, often accompanied by high seawater waves, can cause severe damage as the waves sweep inland and then recede. Cyclone shelters, strategically located in storm-prone areas, provide critical protection and safe accommo­dation for residents during such events.


Since Cyclone Nargis, a total of 248 cyclone shelters have been built across Myanmar. However, this number remains insufficient for the densely populated coastal regions. The significant loss of life during Nargis was attributed mainly to the inadequate number of shelters and the lack of safety measures in disaster-prone areas. That underscores the urgent need for the construction of additional cyclone shelters in these regions to ensure the safety of the populace.


In comparison, Bangladesh has constructed over 14,000 cyclone shelters, capable of accommodating approximately 2.5 million people. Despite this substantial effort, the shelters still fall short of the needs of its 35 million coastal residents. At present, global warming leads to the outbreak of unexpected cyclones. As such, the construction and upgrade of cyclone shelters play a crucial role in minimizing loss of life and property in natural disasters. As Myanmar is one of the countries facing severe impacts of natural disasters, it is necessary to build more and more quality cyclone shelters across the nation.