Diakonia - People change the world
picture of Naw Zar Lo The project has also boosted women’s opportunities to earn an income. Naw Zar Lo is one of them.

She is no longer worried about food

Simple solutions such as growing food on rafts or stilts have enabled villagers in Tha Bawt Gone, Myanmar, to supply themselves with vegetables all year round. Previously they lost out on several weeks of growing due to major flooding during the rainy season.

“Thanks to this technique of allotments on stilts, I’m now able to grow vegetables in the rainy season as well. I’ve managed to grow so much that I’ve even been able to sell some of my harvest. Now I’m thinking of taking on more allotments,” says new grower Naw Zar Lo.

The need to be prepared and prevent severe consequences is increasing as extreme weather becomes more commonplace. This is why Diakonia is working to boost the resilience of communities at risk of being affected by future natural disasters.

Improving gender equality

One important aspect of this preventive work involves improving gender equality in communities, as disasters have a varying impact on people depending on their vulnerability. For example, women in many parts of the world struggle to gain access to information and resources and to get their voices heard. But increasing perspectives in our preventive work reduces this vulnerability. It is for this reason that Diakonia is focusing on empowering women to take on leadership roles both within the family and in their communities.

Raised women's status

In Myanmar it is common for women to be discriminated against, and many consider them to be less important than men. When Diakonia started working in Tha Bawt Gone, the women were mostly responsible for household chores, while the men enjoyed more leading roles. Getting the women involved, and supporting them to participate in the work of identifying the village’s weaknesses and needs meant that the analysis was more comprehensive. It also raised the women’s status in the village.

Growing crops on bamboo rafts

During the rainy season, the Ayeryarwady region, home to Tha Bawt Gone, is under water for several weeks. This has meant that people are unable to grow food for many months of the year. The villagers worked alongside Diakonia’s partner organization to come up with the solution of trying to grow crops on bamboo rafts or stilts. Fourteen families decided to trial the solution immediately, and it was a success. Now the families can grow their own food all year round, and a further five families have decided to adopt the new growing method.

No worries about water levels

“We’ve never grown food during the rainy season before, because the ground gets flooded. But growing on a raft means we no longer need to worry about water levels during the rainy season. We’ve grown plenty of vegetables such as okra, watercress, and edible hibiscus for the whole family,” says one of the growers involved in the project.

The project has also boosted women’s opportunities to earn an income, and given them greater influence in the village.