Over 100 northern Rakhine homes at risk from river erosion

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July 16

Over one hundred dwellings from two villages within the northern Rakhine State township of Maungdaw require relocation in the wake of erosion to the banks of the Pyonema River.

Continual downpours from the beginning of July saw four and five homes, from Mingyi and Kyeinkyaung villages respectively, forced to relocate from the collapsing banks of the Pyonema River. Residents report that villagers from over a hundred homes are currently in danger of suffering a similar fate.

“The collapsing of the river bank gets worse by the year. People have had to take down their homes and relocate them in an area out of potential harm’s way from the river. Data [of such relocations] have been complied and will be presented to the township administrator. The main points we’ve planned to present are the matters of anti-riverbank erosion defenses and land for relocation of dwellings.” said U Aung Kyaw Thein, administrator of Mingyi village.

In the last decade, over 500 households from six northern Maungdaw villages, together with more than a 100 acres of farmland, have fallen victim to riverbank erosion. To such an extent was the severity of the erosion that the entire Na Ta La village of Myawady had to be relocated, according to local village administrators.

“The collapsing of land into the river means there’s no farmland left to work. I want Hluttaw MPs and relevant government departments to come and inspect what’s going on.” said Ko Chan Thein Aung, a resident of Mingyi village.

Villagers have expressed that if no anti-erosion defense walls are built, if no efforts are made to mitigate the force of  the annual erosion, the police station and electricity sub-stations which sit at the back of Mingyi and Kyeinchaung villages could be swept away by the river within the next three to four years.

More than 30 households had to be relocated back in 2012, while current heavy rains have reportedly seen between 20-30 feet of land collapse into the local river.